Despite its distinctly “euro” sensibility, Eurovision is a global phenomenon with fans all over the world. In the age of video streaming and social media, it has never been easier to follow.
In 2018, we met some Eurovision obsessives to find out how they watch the contest, and what it means to them.
Frank Lochthove, Germany
Mr. Lochthove, 45, recalled how Germany’s hosting the soccer World Cup finals in 2006 had given his country the opportunity to shed a postwar suspicion of flags and national pride to cheer on the national team. But for Mr. Lochthove, the most important competition was the 2010 Eurovision, held in Oslo, which the German singer Lena won. “She managed to cast a spell on the whole audience,” he said.
James Sheen, Britain
Mr. Sheen said he held his first Eurovision party in 1991, and continued to host parties for the next 20 years. Each time, the shindigs grew more elaborate as he added score sheets, themed food, colored spotlights, a sound system and a smoke machine.
In 2011, Mr. Sheen drove to Düsseldorf, Germany, to be in the audience for the first time. While the parties were dear to him, nothing beat the thrill of the real thing, he said.
Maria Bresic, Australia
When Ms. Bresic was growing up in the 1970s in the western suburbs of Sydney, she knew about the Eurovision Song Contest from Croatian-language radio and from her parents’ friends.
Her parents had come from Croatia and the way they watched the contest in the 1980s was influenced by the complicated politics of the Balkans at the time.
“Mum and Dad wouldn’t be interested in watching any of the performances by certain countries,” Ms. Bresic said. When Yugoslavia won the contest in 1989, “my parents were outraged,” she said, because, in their mind, the winning band, Riva, should have been considered Croatian, not Yugoslav.
Ricardo Mohammed, United States
Mr. Mohammed has a singular way of keeping track of time. Asked when he started his Eurovision viewing party at Hardware, a gay bar in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, he replied, “Emmelie de Forest won that year.” (For the uninitiated, that would be 2013.) He also remembered a trip to London, “the year Nicki French represented England” (otherwise known as 2000).
Mr. Mohammed, aka DJ ohRicky, discovered Eurovision as a child in his native Trinidad, via British broadcasts. He said the closest analogy for the contest was Broadway. “Those fans know the statistics, like how many Tonys someone won,” he said. “It’s the same for Eurovision die-hards: They know the last time a country won, who wrote a particular song.”