Despite its sensitivity to the euro, Eurovision is a global phenomenon with fans all over the world. In the age of video streaming and social media, keeping up has never been easier.
In 2018, we caught up with Eurovision obsessives to find out how they view the contest and what it means to them.
Frank Lochthove, Germany
Mr Lochthove, 45, recalled how Germany, hosts of the FIFA World Cup final in 2006, gave his country the chance to shake off a post-war suspicion at the regard to flags and national pride to encourage the national team. But for Mr Lochthove, the most important competition was Eurovision 2010, held in Oslo, which German singer Lena won. She managed to cast a spell over the entire audience, he said.
James Sheen, Great Britain
Mr Sheen said he hosted his first Eurovision party in 1991 and continued to host parties for the next 20 years. Each time, the shindigs became more elaborate as he added score sheets, themed food, colored spotlights, a sound system, and a smoke machine.
In 2011, Mr. Sheen traveled to Düsseldorf, Germany to be in the audience for the first time. Although parties are dear to him, nothing beats 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 heard about the Eurovision Song Contest from the Croatian-language radio and from friends of her parents.
His parents had come from Croatia and the way they viewed the contest in the 1980s was influenced by the complicated politics of the Balkans at the time.
Mum and dad would not be interested in watching performances from certain countries, Ms Bresic said. When Yugoslavia won the contest in 1989, my parents were outraged, she said, because in their minds the winning band, Riva, should have been considered Croatian, not Yugoslav.
Ricardo Mohammed, United States
Mr. Mohammed has a unique way of keeping track of time. When asked when he started his Eurovision viewing party at Materiala gay bar in Hells Kitchen, New York, he replied, Emmelie de Forest won that year. (For the uninitiated, that would be 2013.) He also remembers 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 UK broadcasts. He said the closest analogy for the contest was Broadway. These fans know the stats, like how many Tonys someone has won, he said. It’s the same for Eurovision diehards: they know the last time a country won, who wrote a particular song.
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