My Eurovision 2023 Experience

“Do you want to come to Eurovision?” was the invitation I received from friends.

Although I had heard about it, having been around since 1956 I didn’t know much about it. Of course, I knew about Abba winning in 1974 with “Waterloo” as well as other successes such as Buck’s Fizz and Celine Dion. But I had no real understanding of this celebrated competition.

However, not being one to miss an opportunity, the answer was; “Yeah, what are the dates, see you there”.

Trying to get tickets was a challenge., They sell quicker than tickets for an All-Blacks game. But I registered to buy some along with some friends in Sydney.  The sale countdown was on a Tuesday at 1200 UK time.  I set my alarm for 0030 to wake up and join the queue. Despite winning a place in the queue, tickets were sold out when I entered the ticket-buying “room”.  Oh well, we decided we were going anyway.

As luck would have it a friend in Sydney managed to procure some tickets to the live show. The Eurovision Song Contest consists of 2 live semi-finals and then a live final.  We had tickets to the second semi-final which included Australia.

Unfortunately, due to obvious reasons, the winner of the previous competition, Ukraine, was unable to host the show so second-place winners, the UK, took the reins and selected Liverpool as the lucky host city.

We stayed In Manchester.  Accommodation was easier to book (and cheaper) and the bars and pubs were screening the show as well.  I hadn’t realised everyone gets dressed up so  I had to put together an outfit to take with me from NZ which came together remarkably well.

We caught the train for the hour-long trip to Liverpool; People everywhere were dressed up in glittery garments thrown in with a touch of fluoro  We had 2 seated tickets and 1 for the mosh pit.  Being so close to the stage of such a huge show was like nothing I had seen before in NZ. I imagine it is like a final of Idol or Talent etc.

I quickly made some iends with fellow partygoers and celebrators.  The energy was one of “let’s have a good time”. Shedding the last two years of COVID crap.  People were determined to enjoy the night. Each act is about 3 minutes and they certainly varied but were all unique in their own way and the crowd was 110% behind them. Voting was live and, on the app.

Saturday night was the grand final. We had reserved space at a bar which had seating set up and everyone there was dressed up in support of their various favourites (not necessarily from where they come). The support for all the acts was positive and invigorating – a night of high-camp nonsense. We had table service from local drag queens who kept things lively between performances and most people were on their feet for much of the evening.

At the end of the final performances there is a long wait while all the votes are counted. There are votes from the public but also from the “committee” of each participating country. These have a much greater weighting as they award points in order from 12, 10, 8, 7, 6 continuing down to 1.

Following the announcement of this year’s winner – Sweden – there was excitement but also disappointment from many who wanted Finland to win. Acts range from mainstream to alternative, but mostly, everyone is there for a good time after all, the winner gets nothing apart from the country they hail from earning the right to host the next year. Next year, 2024 is the 50-year anniversary of ABBA winning. What a show that will be.?

At the end of the show, we headed out, along Canal Street where the bars were embracing the contest. I had my Aussie and French flags with me, and my home-made cork hat. I was approached at one of the bars by someone wanting to buy them.  Which was great because I didn’t want to take them any further.

So, for something I knew very little about and had no real expectations of, I had the best time with like-minded people.  All of us just simply out for a good time.

I can now say “hand on heart” I am a Eurovision convert and, am now planning to be in Sweden in 2024!

Story and images contributed by Anon

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