As Campaign's self-appointed nightlife correspondent, I pride myself on my ability to be everywhere. So, when the opportunity arose to attend The 2021 Brit Awards ceremony (which was part of the government's Events Research Programme), I could not turn it down.
Before this, the last event I went to was Defected Records' Glitterbox on 7 March 2020 at Print Works. By this point, the novel coronavirus making its way round the world at rapid speed was the first topic of conversation, and just weeks before, I'd witnessed a deserted Times Square during a trip to New York. However, within the old factory walls of PrintWorks, as Kathy Sledge performed a live rendition of We Are Family and strangers laughed and embraced, it had not registered that these were hugs for a long goodbye because live events were about to close their doors for a year.
To have my pandemic experience neatly sandwiched between Glitterbox and the Brits certainly makes it more palatable. My dedication to going out has seen me endure all the elements in order to sip an Aperol Spritz. So I wasn't fazed by the fact that my ticket to the Brits hinged on multiple Covid tests for research purposes.
On my way to the Brit Awards, I couldn't contain my smile, although the mask works wonders for outwardly appearing nonchalantly cool. My joy was not driven purely by the chance to see Coldplay, but the fact that this event taking place was a big indicator that the industry I hold in the highest regard is on track to open up for summer.
No doubt there will be some people who are reasonably cautious; the virus can have an unpredictable effect on your health but there is also the impact on people's mental health from the lockdowns, which means that many will not be ready for large crowds immediately. But for me it is something I have craved, having only experienced a small taste of it while dining outdoors in the busy streets of Soho. In fact, I already have tickets for five festivals in my arsenal.
I have to say when the show began my eardrums were shocked, having not been exposed to a heavy-duty sound system for a fair while. But like riding a bike, I was quickly back up to speed.
By the time I was watching Dua Lipa perform on stage in the O2 arena, I couldn't help but get lost in the sense of normality. People tightly packed in rows, everyone relaxed, singing, dancing, hugging. Emerging from the past year I have a huge sense of awareness about just how big a gap the loss of live events created in my life. A gap that banana bread and Zoom quiz nights couldn't fill.
Hopefully, in the coming days, the figures continue to show that everything is moving in the right direction, as I plan on being on the dance floor on 21 June.
Image: Dua Lipa performs at 2021 Brit Awards, Getty Images