As those of you who are friends with me on Facebook will know from the onslaught of photos I have subjected you to recently, I had a Eurovision party last weekend. Eurovision really is one of the highlights of my year. I have loved it’s overly made-up, shiny, happy, disturbing little face ever since I moved to Malta in the early 1990’s. Over there it is kind of a big deal. I remember being in a nightclub around 1996 when they turned the music off so everyone could hear the results – that’s right Usher, pipe the fuck down, it’s is Gina G’s time to shine. On top of all this a good family friend of ours, Mike Spiteri, was Malta’s Eurovision entry for 1995. Yeah you heard me, I actually know someone who has actually sang in the actual Eurovision Song Contest. You might say I am weaved into the very fabric of the establishment, buried so deep I think my balls may have just slipped in.
Mike Spiteri’s Eurovision Performance, 1995 (I have no idea who the man at the very beginning of this clip is, but I want him on me).
Unfortunately, when I am even the slightest bit vocal about my favourite event, I am usually met with one of the following reactions:
- “But it’s shit.”
- “But, no one can sing and the songs are shit.”
- “But it’s so tacky and shit.”
- “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so shit.”
- “It shitter than the actual shit I just took, and that was really shit.”
Or the classic:
- “I stopped watching it when we stopped winning. It’s so political now, it’s not about the music anymore……and it’s also pretty shit.”
“It’s not about the music anymore”?? What has music got to do with any of this? See, the problem here is that people are thinking about the Eurovision like it is some sort of song contest or something. It’s not a song contest. With the obvious exception of Mike Spiteri of course, the songs are generally terrible, often tacky, commonly cheesy and almost always ten years behind regular music. The key to enjoying the experience is letting go of the musical concept. Let it go. Just accept the fact that you will be hearing nothing but shite for three hours straight and I promise you you’ll start to enjoy it for what it is: Essentially The European Championship for girls.
It is about the excitement of watching all of our continental neighbours coming together to compete in a light-hearted and slightly bewildering atmosphere. It is having the opportunity to wave fuck-loads of flags around and pretend to be patriotic. It is the provision of an entertaining environment in which to rip the shit out of any country whose border isn’t in direct contact with ours (i.e. all of them). Do you know how many Nazi jokes were thrown around my living-room the other weekend when Germany came on? Fucking hundreds.
If that’s not entertaining enough for you, then the occasional inappropriate performance should keep you interested. This year, for example, the Ukranian entry consisted of a visibly uncomfortable man suffering from severe gigantism standing awkwardly on stage dressed as the giant from Jack & the Beanstalk. Little bit racist. There was also a lesbian kiss at the end of Finland’s performance, but they weren’t even real lesbians! What’s wrong with hiring lesbians? If you’ve got a lesbiany job to do then it’s only fair to hire some lesbians. They’ve got bills to pay too, you know. In fact, half of the shit that goes on on that stage should not even be allowed. This year alone they violated about fifteen separate human rights laws, how anyone cannot enjoy watching that is beyond me.
And in answer to those who say it is all “political”, I say this:
Denmark won this year. Famously a real heavyweight in the political arena. The problem you have is not with the political nature of the voting, you’re just annoyed that Britain isn’t winning anymore. There’s nothing we can do about that. Like powdered mashed potato and soda-streams, the UK was incredibly popular in the 70’s and 80’s but after a couple of illegal wars we are no longer the top dog. What was once the most powerful and desirable cheerleader in the High School of Europe is now a fat, abusive, self-harming single mum with a drinking problem. It’s time for other countries to have their turn in the spotlight – and if they all want to vote for each other instead of us, that is totally fine by me. I don’t really blame them – and anyway, although the scoreboard may look slightly suspicious in places, the best song does generally always win in the end.
So, as a radical Eurovision extremist, I feel it is my duty to convert the Wogan-denying infidels of the UK. In order to do this, I have been hosting Eurovision Parties most years since 2004. I want to rid the world of its Euro-cynicism one social gathering at a time and it’s working. It’s slow, I mean I think in the last nine years I’ve converted about three people, two of them children, but any progress is good progress. If you’re sitting there thinking that you would like to help the cause by hosting your own Eurovision Party then you, my friend, are in luck because I’m about to get all Pippa Middleton on your ass…
A Handy Eurovision Party Guide
By Jillian Dingwall
You will need:
- Eurovision Scorecards, Sweepstake and Poster (pictured below, download them here)
- Pictures of Terry Wogan
- A Word document containing the flags of all the participating countries
- Party Bags
- Half the contents of your nearest Pound Shop
- A Crown from Burger King
- A packet of Wagon Wheels
- Sausage Rolls
- A shit-ton of alcohol
(Preparation time = 3 days)
T minus 2 days until the party
Today you will have two jobs to do: Sort out the prizes and buy all the drink.
Head to your nearest pound shop where you will find not only your prize bags, but everything you will ever need to put in them. You can award any amount of prizes you want but I usually award them for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Buy literally the most shit things you can find, making sure to include a few items with Union Jacks on them – it looks more professional if you stick to a vague Eurovision theme. This year my prize bags included a Fray Bentos Steak & Kidney Pie for one, a Buck’s Fizz CD, a Justin Bieber watch, a British flag tea-towel and a Union Jack themed cake-decorating kit. Once you have sorted out the main prizes, buy some small party bags, a packet of Wagon Wheels and a couple of large bags of sweets. These will be divided up equally and handed out to each guest to take home at the end of the night. If you’re waiting for an explanation for the necessity of Wagon Wheels then, please. Kill yourself.
Next, head to the supermarket to get booze, stopping at Burger King on the way to steal one of their cardboard crowns. Buy as much beer as you can fit in your car, remembering to make use of the glove-compartment space and gaps underneath the seats. In terms of things that aren’t beer, it’s nice to have a focal point at a party and ours is usually some sort of sangria-punch concoction created by Billy, however this year my friend Alison made Eurovision cocktails which were way better. Finally, do not forget the Jegermeister. When you get home, sit at the dining-room table and prepare all of your party bags whilst listening to your other half tell you how much of a fucking weirdo you are. Make sure to hide the bags in a cupboard so the guests do not find them before the official “reveal”.
T minus one day until the party
I’m not going to sugar-coat this, today will be the most stressful day of your life. Today, not only must you buy all the food, you will also have to do all the printing and decorating.
When you are buying food it is best to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Make sure there are sausage rolls. If I turn up at a party and there are no sausage rolls, that party is dead to me. Don’t be a dick, give the people what they want.
- Any food you buy has to be penetratable and strong enough to hold a toothpick. i.e. no weird pasta or salads.
- Buy toothpicks
It is now time to get down to the business of printing all of our Eurovision paraphernalia. The reason we must leave this job until the last minute is because of the stupid semi-finals (which I would not recommend you watch by the way, it can ruin the surprise). You won’t know which country is participating in the finals until today and the BBC do not update their scorecards until the late afternoon because, you know it’s not like we want a professional, instantaneous service for our fucking license fees or anything.
When the BBC have finally got their act together, print off the following documents IN COLOUR:
- A scorecard for each guest.
- One sweepstake.
- A few posters.
- 3 – 4 copies of your Word document with all of the finalists flags on them (the flags must all be the same size in a 2 x 5 format like in the picture on the left).
- Some nice pictures of Terry Wogan – I prefer to use pictures of him smiling and generally enjoying life, however the one of him on Points of View with the tight trousers and detailed penis outline is equally acceptable.
Take one set of flags and cut them all out, google the shit out of each one to make sure that you know 100% which flag corresponds to which country and then write the country’s name neatly on the back. Set these to one side for now. Cut out another set of flags and, along with your British Entry posters, use them to decorate your living room. Cut out the remaining flags and cellotape them to toothpicks, these will be used to stick into your sausage rolls and mini Cornish pasties, etc. Finally, take all of the photo-frames you have in your living room, remove the boring pictures of your children and replace them with pictures of Terry Wogan. He may not be our commentator anymore but in British Eurovision culture it is seen as a mark of respect to acknowledge him in some small way.
Get up and clean the absolute asshole out of your house. Leave a few things casually lying around, a towel over a radiator or an off-centre cushion on the sofa to present the illusion that you have given your house a quick, casual tidy-up as opposed to spending five hours cleaning the bastard thing. Now get yourself in a shower because you stink and your guests will be arriving at any minute.
Once everyone has turned up and they have been given a drink (or in my case, have poured themselves their own drink because I am a pretty basic hostess), place all of the flags with the country’s names written on them into a hat and pass it around. Depending on how many guests you have, get them to pull out two or three flags each. Write the names of each person and the countries they have drawn into the sweepstake. Put this somewhere where you can’t spill drink on it.
By this time the contest should be just about to start. Make up your Eurovision cocktails and hand them out before explaining how the scoring system works. It’s pretty straight forward really, they must score each country out of 12 depending on how good they think they are. They can go back and change their scores right up until the first results are read out. There is literally no purpose to this, it’s just a way of encouraging debate and people seem to enjoy it.
Top tip: It is helpful to write little notes next to your scores to serve as a reminder, because by about half way through the competition you will be so drunk you will have forgotten what the first acts were like. For example, this year I thought the girl who sang for Russia looked a little bit like those lucky trolls from the 90’s, so I wrote “90’s Troll” next to her score. This really helped me later on when, after my seventh Jegermeister, I was lying face-down in the back garden covered in someone else’s vomit.
After the last performance is over, put the food out while you are waiting for the final scores to be revealed (for the love of God, don’t forget to put the toothpick flags in). The results part of the show is a bit on the lengthy side so if you want to mute the TV and stick some tunes on, go ahead. I prefer to leave it on because the utter nonsense that comes out of each country’s presenter is almost as funny as the performances themselves. Finally, when the winning order is announced, hand out the prizes to the guests who pulled out the corresponding flags (bestowing the Burger King Crown of Victory upon the head of the person in 1st place). When the evening is coming to a close, give a Wagon Wheel Party Bag to everyone else as a thank you for not moaning about how shit the Eurovision is.
So there you have it, a handy guide which if followed correctly, should result in you hosting the greatest Eurovision party ever known to man. It’s a ‘go hard or go home’ kind of affair and there will be times when you may doubt your abilities as a host or even lose faith in the contest altogether, but if you believe in yourself like you believed in Bonnie then you will reap the rewards. Just remember this simple motto: “If you think you have gone too far, go further” and I guarantee you they will be absolutely fizzing at the slit to do it all again next year.