“Är ni svensk?”, I was asked by a dark-haired bloke who came up to me at The Flinders Hotel Eurovision Night.
“What?”, I replied, and then soon realised he was speaking to me in Swedish.
“No”, I told him (på svenska), I’m Australian but I’m learning Swedish.
I could understand his confusion, as I was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the word “Sverige”, and was standing next to Louisa’s friend, Andrew who was dressed entirely in blue and yellow/gold, the colours of the Swedish flag.
We continued to chat in Swedish for 5-10 minutes, and I was so incredibly excited, so incredibly happy that I could understand the conversation and respond accordingly. Somehow, all of my troubles with verbs became insignificant as I realised I could actually maintain a basic conversation.
I discovered he was Brazilian by birth, but had lived in Sweden for five years. And did I mention he was cute?
He wasn’t the only Swedish person there for the night, though, as there was another guy in a Swedish t-shirt (I heard him speak, he was German), along with lots of other people with Swedish flags.
“Why is everyone supporting Sweden?”, I was asked by a woman as I walked by to get a drink. Although I was tempted to use the phrase, “because Swedish is the international language of the homosexual. A kind of Esperanto for us all”, I just uttered something brief along the lines of “who else is there to support?”.
And it is about supporting, in the same sense as you support a football team. Not having any recent European heritage (it was 1864 when my ancestor James O’Brien arrived from Ireland), I figure it was always important just to pick a team and stick to them.
My mate Louisa who has attended Eurovision on a couple of occasions noted one significant difference though. If it’s a soccer match and you come across a supporter of a different team, there’s generally an indifference if not outright hostility. But when you go to Eurovision and meet someone from a different “team” you often find yourself putting your arms around them. And if you found their entry this year was crap, you could always find something nice to say about an entry several years ago.
Normally I’d host a Eurovision Party at my place, such as in 2008 and 2007, but this year, we thought we’d do something different. I wrote to a couple of gay venues in town asking if they had planned some kind of Eurovision festivity. The manager of The Flinders wrote back quickly (which was great) saying yes, though I’ve yet to hear anything from the other venues I wrote to.
And so we went along to The Flinders for their Eurovision Night.
Before I discuss the night itself, I thought I’d offer a couple of thoughts on highlight performances from the night…
* Sverige: I’m not sure why but her performance of La Voix lacked a little of the excitement of this year’s Melodifestivalen. Although she wasn’t my preferred Swedish song, I still thought she performed well, though not with the same level of enthusiasm as previously. She was a bit flat. Nonetheless, lots of screams of approval from the audience.
* Grekland: A song written by two Australians and performed by Sakis Rouvas (known throughout the night amongst my friends as “Sakis Mykok”). Memorably, every time he lifted his shirt, the audience at The Flinders was given a glimpse of abs. Very popular amongst the crowd attending.
* Norge: Predictably good and popular, and of course, the overall, clear winner.
* Storbritannien: Quite good, but it’s 2009 not 1985, so I’m not sure if Andrew Lloyd Webber was the right person to deliver a Eurovision hit. I mean, he had Dianne Warren writing the lyrics. And the vocalist was good. But it was all just a little dated in comparison with the rest of the songs competing. In 1985 it might have won…
* Tyskland: Surprisingly good, since Germany normally offers up terrible songs. Memorable. You could sing along. And there was a lot left to your imagination/fantasy by the name of the group which was “Alex Swings, Oscar Sings”. I wish!
* Litauen: I liked it the night before and still do.
* Moldavien: A funky folk dance in costume. Great stuff.
* Ryssland: They really didn’t want to win the contest again, did they?
The swimming pool sequence at the end was alarmingly erotic.
My friend Graeme has described the night as Euroshamble at The Flinders. Graeme always has stronger views on most subjects than I do. And on the Myers-Briggs scale, I’m guessing he’s off the radar on the J (judging) than I am as a virtual “flatliner” on most things.
Still, I thought it was a night which promised a lot, but delivered little. A couple of things here and there would have helped. The drag queen could have done a classic Eurovision number, instead of a generic drag number. They could have had “voting forms” with a prize/ceremony at the end. I don’t understand why Madonna was the music before and after the screening. A few classic Eurovision numbers (and there are many) would have set the scene etc. The half-heartedness of it all was best summed up by the projection of the event onto a wrinkly old tarp, as you’ll see from the attached photograph.
I sense the crowd was mostly interested in Eurovision, though I’m not convinced the organisers were as hard-core. I think they missed an opportunity with this one, as we won’t be returning next year.
Anyway, next year, I’ll be in Oslo.
P.S. The one saving grace for the night? The terrible hosts from the semi-finals who looked like Tom and Nicole were replaced by a rather spunky bloke who looked like he could have been a Baldwin Brother, and some chick who was indistinguishable from any other Eurovision Song Contest. My favourite hosts remain the Greek Will & Grace lookalikes from 2006 as well as Renars Kaupers who co-hosted the competition from Latvia in 2003. He was hillarious in a good way.