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Guys. I know I have said it again and again, and it is a weird thing, but Aussies are super into Eurovision. Like, host parties and watch the live stream with their friends into it. I am one of those tragics. I know that it’s kitschy, I know it’s ridiculous, and I love every sequined, over the top, outrageous minute of it. Even when (or especially when) it’s terrible. Witnessing the Eurovision song contest is one of my strangest lifelong dreams.
Allow me to justify this a little. Longtime readers of the blog will know my love of Eurovision began when I was a theatre kid in Melbourne, surrounded by people equally thrilled by tacky hilarious performance art. The love affair grew during my first trip to Europe in 2008, watching the contest while drinking cheap sangria in a Portuguese hostel surrounded by French, Turkish and British fans. I then spread my addiction while tour guiding by forcing all my passengers to watch Jedward perform as we sat in a Galway pub in 2011. These days I force my long-suffering mister to watch the finals with me, as per the last 3 years – normally while we are in Tirol or after a Saturday night out. Last year when Conchita Wurst won I was surrounded by equally enthusiastic friends and fans. Once Conchita’s win secured Vienna the right to host the final, my destiny became clear …. I had to get tickets to the Eurovision grand final in Vienna in 2015.
It was an audacious dream, sure, but I knew I was up for the challenge. According to the official Eurovision site:
‘Every year an estimated amount of some 180 million viewers watch the Eurovision Song Contest’
I could only assume I was up against at least half of that number of people in trying to get a ticket. But I had a dream – a slightly less noble dream than Martin Luther King’s, sure – but a dream. I HAD to attend Eurovision.
The first release of tickets came in mid-December. We were prepped and ready at our desks with credit cards in hand, hoping to buy online, but disaster struck. The OEtickets website crashed. The phone lines were down. No one on Twitter actually knew who managed to purchase tickets. Thousands of desperate Eurovision fans just like us were competing to attend and 100,000 tickets sold out in under 20 minutes.
— Kris Berry (@kristopherberry) December 15, 2014
We came away empty-handed. Whispers of a second wave release in January soothed the pain, but desperate Facebook pleas and Twitter cries, combined with skyrocketing eBay prices for tickets led to the conclusion – if we were serious about attending there was only one solution. We would have to camp out at the venue the night before tickets went on sale to make sure we did not miss out.
I need to let you know at this point – S hated Eurovision. Had no interest, saw the competition as a joke and was mildly disgusted that I found it so entertaining. I had only ever camped out for event tickets once in my life, I think it was for a U2 concert (I was young and Kanye was supporting so…go figure) and even then the camping had been for fun with my bestie. The fact that S and I came to the mutual decision to sleep for just four hours before setting out to Stadhalle and queuing for 6 hours is a testament to my madness and his dedication to making my lifelong dreams come true. No matter how ridiculous that lifelong dream is. Whatta guy, right?
So we went, we packed snacks and sleeping bags and extra layers. We camped, we made friends with other die-hard fans in the queue, forming an awesome group of solidarity in the wee freezing hours of a Friday morning, waiting for our destiny. After hours of alternately freezing, nipping off for breakfast snacks and chatting with lovely people, the queue finally started moving at 8:30am.
Of course because it’s Austria, the first step we had to take was filling out a form. Then, a tetchy 20 minute wait while we spotted queue jumpers and sudden ring-ins who joined their ‘friends’ at the front of the queue, having skipped the long and cold night of camping out. We left karma to dole out their just deserts and focussed on our mission – tickets or bust.
I can honestly say the final 7 minutes as the queue inched forward were incredibly nerve-racking and my heart was racing. We saw the 20 or so people in front of us receive their tickets, hoping that they wouldn’t sell out before we got there. It may seem silly, but I couldn’t bear the thought of us having tried so hard and waited so long for it to come to nothing*.
Basically, I was like a 12-year-old waiting for a One Direction concert. Overexcited and disproportionately hopeful.
Our smiling counter man was cheery, breezy and friendly – a rarity in Austrian service, but a godsend at this critical point. He efficiently processed our request and after printing the receipt and handing the confirmation paper over, he wished us a great day. Only then did I let my deep breath go – exploding in wild whoop of delight and dancing out of the auditorium while simultaneously jumping all over S in celebration. We had done it – Eurovision Finals tickets. In Vienna, my adopted hometown. In the 60th Anniversary year when Australia will be a guest entrant competing. Dreams really do come true kids….
If you needed further proof of our mania, here’s an allegedly popular tv show (I think the host is dressed as Freddie Mercury??) with about 30 seconds of footage ‘interviewing’ us at about 4am. The time of morning is critical in explaining my hair, Stefan’s lack of response and the overall weirdness of it all: Skip to the 1 minute mark for our Eurovision queuing highlights!
* Extremely #firstworldproblem, yes, but we were pretty sleep deprived at the time and not really thinking straight! Bonus intellectual political article about Eurovision here.