Compass Masthead
EurovisionFeature

Eurovison 2015: Douze points for Australia!

Heather Wallace

There’s a magnet on my fridge that declares “There are no kangaroos in Austria”.

Skippy might not be on hand to chow down on some schnitzel but believe me, this year there are plenty of Australians in Vienna. Thanks to SBS’s tireless commitment to daggy glam rock Australia has been exposed to the wonder that is Eurovision. And now for Eurovison’s 60th anniversary we aren’t just watching the party, we’re COMING to the party!

For the first time, Australia is an official entrant in the competition, and Guy Sebastian will be the one up on stage. I admit I was sceptical at first, thinking maybe there was a typo in Austria’s paperwork. But no, we really have been invited to the party, and we’re going to make the most of it!

Not content to just watch the excitement on screen, I’m on my way to Austria right now, typing this from my seat in a Vienna-bound plane from Heathrow. I’m a Eurovision tragic from way back; every year I go to radio silence the day of the final so I’m not spoilt for watching the broadcast hours later on TV. I first set up a Twitter account just so I could comment, observing Greek austerity measures were evident in the shortness of their entrant’s dress.

I’ve run Eurovison sweeps at my work and hosted parties where everyone brings a different national dish to share. Swedish meatballs and fondue are always popular choices!

And really what’s not to love about Eurovison?

There’s big hair, shiny polyester and more flying glitter than an explosion in a sequin factory. It’s a joy to see which one tries for a modern aesthetic (despite ‘modern’ looking like a 1979 time warp) or a version of traditional national dress. Last year Poland pulled out all the stops and had their all girl-band dressed in short, tight fitting corseted dirndls, singing their little hearts out at butter churns. I’m convinced they were sponsored by the Polish Dairy Commission in an attempt to boost milk sales.

No surprises who these guys I met on the plane are supporting! Who has your vote this year? Do you have a favourite from previous Eurovisions?

No surprises who these guys I met on the plane are supporting! Who has your vote this year? Do you have a favourite from previous Eurovisions?

My favourite in recent years were the singing septuagenarian Russian babushkas, scarves over their heads and holding hands as they shuffled a dance. They might not have won the competition but they won hearts all around the world!

I love that international relations are played out up on stage and through the voting system. Even after all these years I still haven’t quite worked out the voting. Here’s what I know, every country competing casts points, starting with four points and going up to 12 points for the act they consider the best. Points come from telephone votes, and you can’t vote for your own country. It’s here you see centuries old rivalries play out and geo-voting blocks forming.

In the mid 90s, after the fall our the Soviet Union, when so many former USSR countries were at loggerheads, the only country everyone supported was Ireland, leading to them winning a few years in a row. It was in that period that River Dance came to the world’s attention, it was the show stopper act performed in the interval, when host countries showcase their heritage and traditions.

Last year international tensions were running high, as the world watched Russian forces amassing at the Ukraine’s border. The Russian broadcaster announcing the country’s votes was loudly booed. It was a reminder of how Eurovision came about: sixty years ago when the European continent was still struggling with the aftermath of a devastating war, singing was a better way to work out nationalistic conflicts than guns. In its first year seven countries took place, even during the Cold War the continent could come together and the numbers of competing countries has swelled over the decades.

And this year we’re there too, Australia, up there on stage. It makes sense, in the same post-war period migrants from all over Europe brought their culture, language, food and traditions to our shores, transforming us into a vibrant multicultural community. It’s only right we celebrate that! And the over the top style of the show, with its slightly off singing and bright costumes connects to the inner dag in us, in the same way Australia adored the most famous Eurovision winner of all…ABBA!

If you can’t be there in person, don’t fret there are plenty of ways for you to be part of the glitz and glamour. SBS will have their regular broadcast on free to air TV, and if you want to celebrate in public the National Film and Sound Archive and Dendy are hosting parties.

So grab your bedazzler and shoulder pads, tease up your hair and get in touch with your inner glam rocker, come and be part of the fun. For the first time our votes count, so come and be part of the best democratic tradition of all and help Australia decide who will win its 12 points!

Come on Canberra, let’s show these Europeans how to party!

user

Heather Wallace

Heather’s career in arts and heritage PR spans 15 years, with highlights including working for Sean Connery at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and promoting Australia’s World Heritage places. Her blog, Myths and Misadventures, (http://mythsandmisadventures.blogspot.com.au/), is about life lessons we can learn from the Romans. You can follow her on Twitter @Missmythology. More about the Author

CSO Christmas 2016 Bottom LB