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I shouldn’t enjoy Eurovision as much as I do. Us Aussies can’t even enter into the contest – the best we can hope for is a guest spot appearance during the semi-finals (see this cringe inducing intro – the song is not too bad). Somehow though, the spectacle of trashy euro-pop and over-the-top theatricals has always been a part of my life and understanding of Europe.
We were a bit overly enthusiastic with our cliche’s. Here you can see a surfboard, footy players, akubra hats and a giant kangaroo bobble head. Maybe a touch too keen!
Being a theater student in Melbourne, watching Eurovision every year was a cult-like event among our group of friends. We would stay up to ridiculous hours, host Eurovision themed parties and enjoy the drama and outrageous performances, while passing expert commentary and awarding our own votes and points to each finalist.
When I first travelled through Europe in 2008 I vividly remember watching Eurovision in a trendy hostel in Lisbon, being so thrilled to have actual Europeans watching it with me – Turkish, French, Belgian and British backpackers crammed into the one television room. This was where I learnt about the political ‘alliances’ and underlying meaning of the way countries voted. Of course the free sangria supplied during viewing meant we were especially enthusiastic about the performances.
So when Eurovision rolled around this year, I had already been primed in the history of the competition and knew the gleeful joy of watching singers perform with acrobats and fake flames in the background. I knew that winning performances were those that had an equal balance of musical talent, over the top costumes and outrageous stage antics. And I love every ridiculous thing about Eurovision.
Just a Romanian Opera singer dressed as Dracula – nothing ridiculous to see here. This was my favourite entrant in 2013!
Not at all ridiculous entry from Poland this year. All about the music.
Circular piano. Wonderfully ridiculous.
I was invited to a fellow Aussie expats place to watch the contest with Margarita’s in hand and fellow Eurovision-enthusiasts. We’d of course seen the Austrian entrant Conchita Wurst in the papers all week in the lead-up to the competition and lots of positive press was hinting she may perform well, but no one was game enough to claim that she would definitely win.
A funny thing happened when the results were being finally being revealed – for what I can safely say is the first time, I was sincerely cheering and screaming for Austria, each time Conchita was awarded a point. It became vital that my adopted country performed well – I had my first real spark of Austrian pride!
Equivalent level of my pride
Of course I’ve seen Austria win medals in the winter olympics and perform well in world skiing championships – but none of those ‘world stage’ events meant anything to me. Eurovision however, was a game I knew. I understood the high-stakes, the glory and the impact that a winning Eurovision contestant meant. So, that night, if you were in the 2nd district you probably heard a mad bunch of Aussies and Expats squealing every time another 12 points was awarded to ‘the Queen of Austria’, Conchita Wurst. We laughed, we held our breath, we may have even teared up a little bit when she was announced as the winner – and my god did we cheer for her!
Conchita winning as a bearded, cross-dressing sultry diva (with a killer tune) was the icing on the cake. Watching her genuine shock and honest acceptance speech made me miss all my LGBT, cross-dressing and theatrical friends from home – I wanted to run out to the nearest gay bar in Vienna and immediately join the wild celebrations!
The best part? Her win means that in 2015, Eurovision is coming to Austria. Whether its in Vienna or the countryside, you can bet your arse I’ll be fighting for tickets to make a lifelong dream of going to Eurovision finally come true!!
The shock and excitement of seeing Eurovision in Austria got to Conchita too…
P.S Not only are we looking forward to Eurovision next year – but I’m now a shameless Conchita fan, we saw her live in Vienna last week and she is, indeed UNSTOPPABLE!! Some home-made videos to give you an idea of just how beloved she is now to Austrians…
[flickr video = https://www.flickr.com/photos/105442395@N05/14311351031/]
This is the crowd of Austrians singing along faithfully to their new Queen
[flickr video = https://www.flickr.com/photos/105442395@N05/14128085320/]
The Queen herself showing us how its done!