No carnival, what can we do now?
For schmalzy pop singer (and department secretary) Eveline Horsch, carnival should be the busiest time of the year with two or three performances a day. Unfortunately, COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works. Horsch, carnival celebrant in heart and soul, certainly misses the party hubbub, but the citizen of Kerkrade is not gloomy. This should not become a lamentation, she emphasises.
“Kirchroa doa junt v’r!”, Eveline Horsch shouts from an open-air stage in the heart of Kerkrade. She starts the refrain of one of her favourite covers: “Atemlos durch die Nacht, bis ein neuer Tag erwacht.” People are singing along and dancing side by side. That was a YouTube video from a year ago. Such a sight is impossible in the year 2021.
Still, her diary is not completely empty. An online performance has been planned for a football club in Kerkrade on carnival Sunday, 14 February. Horsch (“my stage name is Eveline”), during the day a department secretary for Education Development and Research at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, will make her appearance in the canteen together with a number of other artists. Members from the association can party along via a livestream in their own living rooms. “The atmosphere will most likely be completely different. As a schmalzy pop singer, you want to sing together with the audience, creating the mood (stimmung), looking for a connection. We will see how that goes online.”
Schmalzy pop songs – for those who have no idea – she describes as “popular singalong songs”, in the Netherlands and Germany well known as Schlagers. And no, they don’t all necessarily need to be in the Limburg dialect or German language (it can be Que sera sera by Doris Day), but most of the songs are, she says. A selection of her repertoire – covers, but also some of her own songs: Himmelblaue Augen, Du hast mich tausendmal belogen, Ich Liebe das Leben.
Horsch “fell” into that world years ago, she says. She never sang professionally, “only in the shower or the car”. But when she went on stage once “just for the fun of it” and sang Atemlos by the German singer Helene Fischer, she came to really like it. And, not unimportantly, her performance was appreciated. “One thing led to another.” She expanded her repertoire. It went from carnival sessions to family and company parties, performances in retirement homes, a school ball, an Oktoberfest. “You must be thinking: a school ball, what do they like about this? But it was unbelievable, that was just out of this world last year. It gave me so much satisfaction. By the way, I feel the same with retirement homes. The people love it.”
There is some quiet relief that this year is not as busy. “I transferred from Law to FHML in November. A new job like that requires a lot of attention. I could never have combined it with my gigs. On the 11th of the 11th [traditionally the carnival season starts on 11 November], I was at my computer working, ha-ha. I didn’t even think about it. It wasn’t until that evening, when I heard it mentioned on the television, I thought: ‘Oh yes, that was today.”
But honestly, I do miss it. Performing on stage continues to give her a kick. In addition, we immerse ourselves in the Vasteloavend of Kirchroa. “A large group of us walk in the parade, prior to that we spend a weekend in Cologne to attend a session, then ladies’ sessions in our own town, crowning the Prince, getting all kinds of carnival attributes together weeks beforehand.”
But in reality, there is a virus on the loose making people ill, even killing them, she realises. “I’m concerned about that misery. When I hear some of the stories, yes, it makes me sad. Come on, it is not always easy with teenagers in the home, because they are suffering from the lockdown too, but we are healthy, we have a house, I have a permanent job, we can talk to each other at home. When I see how others – those who are self-employed or people in the catering industry – are having such a hard time during all this, I think: ‘I can really call myself lucky’.”