Eurovision final day is quite challenging for me.
No push notifications.
A total media ban.
My group of mates and I avoid finding out who the winner is, until we all get together later that night to watch the broadcast on SBS, a tradition we’ve held for more than 10 years and one that started with all of our families decades before, because it connected them with their homelands.
Mum and Dad migrated to Australia in the very late 1970s from the Portuguese island of Madeira.
The booming steel industry in Wollongong on the New South Wales South Coast, attracted them to what promised to be a better life. In the process though, they left behind their extended family and friends.
It’s easy to forget how hard connecting to Portugal would have been back then. Flights were expensive, as too were international phone calls. FaceTime didn’t exist.
While they were building a new life in Australia, and contributing to the community, they still had deep and fond memories of Portugal. It’s something the Portuguese call “saudade”.
So you can imagine how exciting it would have been, to have access to Portuguese content on radio or television back then, especially on SBS. Eurovision only added to the mix.
We’d all get together at my grandparents place; uncles, aunties, cousins and friends, and watch the spectacle that is Eurovision. There would be lots of food, alcohol (for the adults) and lots of laughter as we’d once again, witness Portugal miss out on a win.
It really was a fun event for our family, and another excuse to get together. So when my friends and I gather to watch Eurovision these days, it’s really about keeping that tradition, which they also experienced with their families, alive - as well as enjoying the event ourselves.
Having Australia in the competition has changed a few things this time round.
Instead of waiting until the late broadcast, we’ll be recording the live broadcast at 5am and watching it at lunchtime. I also tried to get in on the action earlier this year, alluding to the fact I may be representing Australia at the event:
Of course I wasn’t being serious, but yes, I was in a pop band when I was younger!
Long story short, I was picked to be part of a six piece group when I was 17 after I responded to an audition call in the paper. I fit in voice and choreography lessons alongside my university studies, and casual jobs at David Jones and Win News. We had a silent investor who helped fund a 3 song demo. Then I got booted from the group a year later because “my vocal ability wasn’t developing fast enough”.
In other words, I couldn’t, well, can’t sing. It was fun though.
My friends take Eurovision seriously, kind of.
There is way too much food, often themed to match the culinary delights of the host country. There are games.
There is also a scoreboard.
Whoever is closest to guessing the winners gets to host the Eurovision party the following year.
It’s a bit of a challenge, putting aside who we think should win, and picking instead, who we think will win.
Hence, why it’s important that we don’t know the results ahead of the party, which can be a challenge.
You can imagine my shame one year, when I accidentally found out who won… or so I thought.
Mum and Dad came to visit me on Eurovision morning a few years ago. When they knocked on the door, I greeted them and said ‘Remember, don’t tell me who won Eurovision.’
Mum responded by saying, ‘I don’t know who won.’ Dad looked at her and said, ‘It was Russia wasn’t it?’
When I got to the party later that evening, I hung my head in shame, and said I knew the winner. I felt like a total outcast.
In the end, Dad was wrong. It was Sweden that had won. I’m kind of hoping Sweden doesn’t win again this year - I’ve had enough meatballs and Ikea food products.