• Ian Sudjatmiko (second from left) with friends at Eurovision in Vienna in 2015. (Supplied)
It’s like being at a concert of your favourite band multiplied by 10.
Ian Sudjatmiko

3 May 2019 - 8:36 AM  UPDATED 4 Feb 2020 - 9:33 AM

I stumbled across Eurovision in 2001 when I was in year 10 at school. I was channel surfing and saw it on SBS. I’d never heard of it before then but I’ve watched it ever since.

Eurovision is over the top, and I found that quite entertaining. The whole idea of it being limitless and people can do whatever they want. It’s great because you can actually see that in the artists. I’m into it because I like music. It doesn’t have to be in English, I listen to other genres like K Pop and Indonesian music.  

I used to just watch it at home by myself each year, until I realised that a couple of my friends were also fans. So we’d watch it together and throw Eurovision parties. We decided in 2014 that we would all go to Eurovision together—but that was before we knew that Jessica Mauboy would be performing as a guest. Her being there was a sheer coincidence.

It was in Copenhagen that year. Being there in person is like nothing I’ve experienced before. The atmosphere was surreal. It's like being at a concert of your favourite band multiplied by 10. 

People dress up. We wore onesies. I wore a kangaroo onesie and a couple of my friends wore koala onesies – and since then we’ve always worn onesies to Eurovision. Every year I wear the same one, my lucky kangaroo onesie. It’s battle-scarred now, but I’m still going to wear it. I’m just not sure how it’s going to fare in Israel considering the weather.

The Eurovision crowd is a big family. There’s this one guy, I think he’s from Austria, and he dresses up in Baroque style costume, in a vest that kind of looks like a curtain from The Sound Of Music, and we’ve seen him a couple of times. And I’ve made some friends from the UK who I’ve met at a couple of the events.

Eurovision is one of those things that transcends politics. Those discussions are checked at the door when everyone goes into the arena or the fan village. It’s literally about celebrating music.

Everyone has a lot have theories of how songs are going to go in the competition but at the end of the day it’s a free for all and it’s all about that one performance and all about that one night. A lot of people talk about how the competition has become political but at the end of the day, the songs that have won, they were really good songs and they rightly deserved it.

My favourite song of all time was from Armenia in 2016, the song was called ‘LoveWave’ by Ivta Mukuchyan. And when Dami Im performed in Sweden in 2016, we were robbed. A lot of people said to us, “you guys should have won”, but that’s Eurovision. You can’t really predict what is going to happen.

Dami Im was my favourite Australian performer but I also loved seeing Guy Sebastian in Vienna in 2015. Being in the hall as he was singing, holding a large inflatable kangaroo in the crowd, and just dancing to the song was so memorable. I wouldn’t have expected an Australian to actually compete in Eurovision – but it happened.

Even though I flew to Lisbon last year, I missed out on tickets. We tried to buy scalped tickets but couldn’t get any. We still went to the village any way.  The village was great – it was actually really fun. Everyone got really into it, people were singing with the music.

This year, I voted for Electric Fields to represent Australia but Kate Miller-Heidke was my second choice. Even though I was disappointed that Electric Fields didn’t win, Australia decided and I’m backing Kate Miller-Heidke 100 per cent.

The politics around Australia being in Eurovision died down. There’s always going to be that sort of thing, “Australia isn’t in Europe” but neither is Israel. I think by the way we participate in Eurovision, and we’re very serious about it, shows Europe that it isn’t something we’re going to go half-heartedly. It’s something we want to win.

As told to Caitlin Chang.


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