Saturday 7 September 2013

Guilty pleasures, or, excuses to visit friends

Everybody has a guilty pleasure - that one thing that is perhaps a little incongruous with their character otherwise, and perhaps just a little bit embarrassing or silly, but they indulge in anyway.

For me, one of those things is Eurovision. I stumbled upon it rather by accident way back in 2002 on my study abroad in St. Petersburg and then rediscovered it after moving back to London in 2004. It's really impossible to explain rationally, but really it's an excuse for each country in Europe (plus some) to put on unabashedly cheesy pop tunes staged with ridiculous back-up dancers and excessive pyrotechnics. Then via a rather complicated voting system, a winner is chosen who then hosts the next year's contest.

Did I mention cheesy? Sometimes cheesy doesn't quite cover it and as far as I can tell the point isn't really to take it seriously, but for each country to compete in a state of self-conscious ridiculousness. Don't believe me? Do a search on youtube for Eurovision and you'll see what I mean.

So, yes it's grand fun and since the advent of twitter the European twitter verse lights up like a Christmas tree for the event. In 2012, Sweden won the contest with actually a pretty cool song and I had quite a lot of fun tweeting back and forth with my fellow US expat friend Shazzer in Sweden on the night.

Then a few months later the Swedes announced that Malmö, not Stockholm, would be the host city for 2013.

Malmö is where Shazzer lives.

Eurovision is usually at the end of May. 

There was a 95% chance that Stephen would have exams at the end of May.


So I booked a cheap flight to Copenhagen (right across the bay and less than an hour's train ride from Malmö). And so off to Eurovision I went! Granted, we didn't manage tickets to the event itself, but I figured it would be fun to enjoy the atmosphere in one of Europe's coolest and lesser known cities and with a good friend who enjoyed the show as much as I would. And grand fun it was!

On that Saturday, the weather dawned sunny, bright and beautiful. The perfect atmosphere for a festival and Malmö had gone all out to make everyone welcome and foster an atmosphere of friendly competition.
Eurovision Collage
After a brief rest and quick sushi supper, we, Shazzer, her lovely wife Dr. Darling and a few local friends, settled in to watch the Grand Final with Shazzer and I live tweeting the event side by side. At which point I learned the hard way that apparently twitter has a daily limit on the number of tweets you can send. . . which I kind of managed to hit with three songs left to go. Oops. 

Despite my personal technological challenges (and suitable warned for next year) we had a wonderfully fun time. Neither of our favourites won, but the winning song takes the contest literally just across the bridge to Copenhagen. Probably the shortest distance between two successive host countries ever. 

Huge thanks to Shazzer for hosting me and letting me tweet alongside her for the evening! And thanks also to Dr. Darling for putting up with our craziness late into the night. Maybe next year?

(As always, the above are only a selection of the photos from the day. You can see the rest over on flickr. Thanks to Shazzer for taking the last picture of me in the square! Not often you guys get photos of me in front of the camera)

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