What’s probably more gay then a pride festival? The European Song Contest [ESC]…cult in Europe and beyond (and if you are not from Europe, or are starting to get confused now… here is a nice introduction). This year was Sweden’s turn to host the contest… and although I didn’t manage to get tickets to the main, main event, I decided to have a go and try “Eurovision Song Contest – The Party”.
On Friday I was therefore seated comfortably in a plane bound for Stockholm… and yes, the plane was full of people going to the ESC. It felt a little like the early morning trains leaving London for Brighton on Brighton Pride day: A wild array of happy gay couples, gay friends and a few straight people wondering where they have just walked into. In our case, the straight contingent was made up of a group of Chinese tourist who seemed suitably confused when half the plane erupted with cheers as the captain welcomed us to the “Eurovision Express” flight.
After some sightseeing on Saturday (yeah, no long party the night before the party), we eventually managed to head off to “The Party”, in an arena next to the official ESC venue. The party is basically a massive viewing event, with a show program leading up to the event… and a dance party afterwards. To say it is massive is probably an understatement: it is massively huge. And yes, it is not strictly speaking a gay party, but I’d guess about half of the guys there were gay.
The evening started at 7:30 with some live acts on stage, right in front of a gigantic television screen…(300m2 screen???). This screen had the rather odd effect that you could watch every detail of the actual contest as it was broadcast live even from the back of the arena… while the actual “warm up acts” appeared positively tiny.
Watching something as camp as Christmas with 15,000 other people is quite an experience… maybe not quite as captivating as the “real” event, but it certainly doesn’t lag far behind. Especially during the voting… including the unexpected/surprising outcome of this years vote (self-disclosure: I’m totally no ESC geek, so I actually had not much of an idea who would perform other than that Russia was the absolute favourite to win).
After the main event was over, the arena basically turned into a pretty camp (as in Eurovision-inspired) club of gigantic proportions… At this time most people had seemingly recuperated from their shock over the outcome – and happily danced the night away. We left at around 3… but it seemed most people were there to stay until the early morning.
Overall… a fun day out… I’m not sure I’ll become such a big fan of Eurovision that I’ll follow it to Kiev next year – but it seems we surely had more fun with our clothes on than these guys …. (sorry I just had to put that probably NSFW link in somewhere).