In 1956 the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) introduced a song contest for the participants. The UK wasn't at that first
contest, but has become a cult institution within our fair isle. Now you can have an excuse for a theme party, and the
good news is that you get more practiced at this every year.
The actual song contest goes on for about 3 hours. Make sure you start the party early so everyone is assembled before the
contest begins, and make sure you have things to keep people entertained before and after the contest.
Before we go on, you should bear in mind if you want proper authenticity, that the European Broadcasting Union is not the same as
the European Union!
General Evening Programme
The evening comprises:
- A buffet, made up of European food from across the continent
- The drinking game
- Fancy dress or 'turns'
- Eurovision music from past years
- ...and of course the Eurovision Song Contest itself!
Decorating the Venue
This is something you can do early on in the day, or even the night before. The party venue needs to be decorated
with Eurovision-style things - we have a large copy of Terry Wogan as The Christ
(kudos to the guy who did that - it's excellent) to put up, as well as a large amount of plastic European bunting.
This is easier than you might think - among the older Eurovision entrants are groups such as Bucks Fizz, Abba, Gina G
Food & Drink
This is a fun bit. For the week or so before, try and source Euro food - markets are good for this, and depending on your area
you will find that places like Marks & Spencer have some interesting "ready-made" party food. I was also
pleasantly surprised to find that Ikea have plenty of shrink-wrap Swedish food which lasts a couple of months.
Remember, the more stereotypical the food is, the more it'll be recognised as from Europe, so apologies if I'm offending the
delicate sensibilities of our mainland counterparts.
So, try these for instance:
- UK: sandwiches in traditional flavours (tuna+cucumber, ham, hard cheese+pickle)
- France: speciality cheese, baguettes, pickled garlic
- Italy: mozzarella, mini pizzas, doughballs, breadsticks, green olives
- Belgium: paté, chocolate
- Sweden: meatballs, gravadlax (that's smoked salmon with mustard and dill sauce)
- Greece: greek salad, souvlaki (mince kebabs), houmous, taramasalata, pitta bread strips, black olives, baklava
- Spain: anchovies, paella (go easy on the saffron!), olives, chorizo, jamon serrano ham
- Holland: mini pancakes usually go down well, especially if you have strawberry or rasperry dipping sauce
- Germany: sausage - lots of it
Try and cater before
the contest starts, so that people can peck at the buffet during the evening. I aim for a 7:30pm serving
time with the contest programme starting at 8pm.
Depending on the weather, it's possible to do a barbeque a bit earlier on in the evening. If the weather is fair then BBQ around 4pm, followed by the Contest at 8pm when people are well oiled.
Nowadays we commence Eurovision at 8pm with a glass of bucks fizz (orange and sparkling wine).
We run our Eurovision party as a fancy-dress-or-forfeit event. This means that:
- Guests must turn up in fancy dress as either:
- A Eurovision act from this year or previous years
- A country of the EBU or part of the European Union
- A host/hostess
- Terry Wogan
- If you do not turn up in fancy dress, you will be required to do a turn. This basically means you must perform
for the pleasure of the (usually rather inebriated) crowd after Eurovision by (for instance) performing a song, a poem,
or some other entertainment.
During the Contest
There is also the TV and sound system to consider - if you have 20 people it's no use having a little 14" telly or a window
in a laptop, so try and wire up the audio to some decent speakers. Bear in mind Radio 2
usually do some sort of simoultaneous broadcast but this is pretty useless if you're watching using digital (Sky/NTL/Freeview)
since the audio is a few seconds out. However, having it on a radio in the kitchen is good too.
Put on Ceefax page 888 (or its digital equivalent) for translations of the weird and wonderful songs sung in a foreign language. The lyrics are
frequently humorous or just really strange, and can often prove a great laugh. Last year the BBC had red-button powered text
commentary as well.
Keep a phone nearby so that during the short break you can register a vote for the best song of the night, your favourite or
just to try and get some votes. People lurching around looking for their phone in a drunken haphazard manner can have all sorts
of devestating consequences so make sure it's near the telly and charged up.
The Drinking Game
Now there's lots of ways you can play this, but there's not really enough repetition etc. in Eurovision and it's
always a lot more fun when you have your own competition as well. Thus I present to you Uncle Colin's version
which has been tried and tested:
To celebrate Terry Wogan's direct and public humiliation of any pathetic entries into the song competition, whilst making
the most of the liquid drink you have in front of you.
- Before the "singing" commences, pick a country from the list of this
years final entrants. You can have the same country as someone else if you
really want (or if there are a lot of people playing), but try not to. Make
sure its well known (or write it down) which country you've opt'd to
- During the actual "singing" performances, you may feel that you're not
likely to win any points, and therefore may wish to either trade country
with someone or just invade their country using your dominating Army and Air
Force. Again, make sure people know (or update the writing area) if you
change country at this stage (people may taunt you or laugh at you for doing
so, this is often encouraged).
- Before the start of the voting, nominate what your drink will be for the
duration of the vote. If you don't drink and/or you have the need to stay
sober during the evening, nominate a soft drink instead. I'm sure everyone
will understand (or, again, possibly may laugh at you).
- During the voting part of the competition, you have to take the following
sips/mouthfuls (depending on drink) depending how many points your country
scores in the vote:
If you're on straight spirits/port, sip. If you're on a mixer+spirits,
mouthful. If you're on beer or cider, mouthful. If you're on lager, leave
the room and don't come back.
- Nil Points: Nothing, you're rubbish.
- 1 to 3 Points: 1 Sip/Mouthful
- 4 to 6 Points: 2 Sips/Mouthfuls
- 7 to 10 Points: 3 Sips/Mouthfuls
- 12 Points: You star, well done for a good song or good political
neighbours along your borders - now, down your drink.
- Should you run out of drink because you're doing really well, or someone
is stealing your supplies, you may opt to change drink with permission of
everyone else. If you find your drinks stack up and you cant keep up (No
names mentioned, Neil), you best find some people who'll help you drink them
in the name of European Friendships and Co-operation.
- If you find by the end of the night, you're sober or you've not had any
drinks at all due to the infamous "nil point", you should hide at the back
of the room and watch everyone fall over (ideal if you have a camera).
Oh, and enjoy the evening :-)