It would be almost criminal for us to have a travel blog, live in Stockholm and NOT write about the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. So, how did we – two ordinary citizens of Stockholm – experience the festivities? Not at all, really. Maybe we don’t hang out in the right places.
To all non-Europeans out there, the Eurovision Song Contest is a yearly pan-European singing competition where most European countries (and Australia and Israel, go figure) participate. It’s a huge deal in this part of the world. Some of the greatest European artists (read: ABBA) have the Eurovision Song Contest to thank (at least partly) for their worldwide success. The competition is arranged in whichever country that won it the previous year. And this year all European eyes will focus on Stockholm.
And Sweden has won the competition too many times, apparently. It’s getting expensive. But here we are, yet again. Its an event that is (supposed to be) apolitical (but this can be debated – there seems to be a correlation with good guys vs bad guys). This year there has been at least one scandal including the Armenia, Azerbaijan and the flag of Nagorno-Karabach. Russia has not been too happy about Ukraine’s entry this year, a song about Stalin’s deportation of Tatars from Crimea in 1944. However, it is a place where important issues are taken to the center stage in one way or another, even when politics are left behind. The viewers have witnessed girl-on-girl action, men dressed as women, men with beards, clowns, monsters and people with learning disabilities. Actually this is not a bad thing, as the underlying values are those liberal values that many Europeans are proud of.
And politics usually play a role when it comes to voting; certain countries have a tendency to vote for each other. What used to be simple affair has turned into a complicated circus. Sadly most performances are in English these days. I say sadly, because one of the great things about Europe is its diversity. Fortunately some countries still stick to singing in their own language. As a language lover (especially fond of Slavic languages), I usually support these underdogs.
So, how have we noticed the Eurovision Song Contest 2016?
The voice in the metro trains has changed. Now it’s Petra Mede welcoming people to Eurovision Song Contest. There are some ads on the streets. And the streets seem slightly more crowded than usual. And that’s about it.
Nonetheless, as “true” Europeans, we will be enjoying the show on Saturday. It’s a good day to sit in the sofa, enjoy something tasty to eat, complain about (un)expected points (why on earth do the Nordic countries vote for each other and what’s up with the Balkans?), while appreciating the fact that the reason we are all sitting there is the result of a long
and complex history together. We have learned to live peacefully together. It’s panem et circenses, my friends, panem et circences.