OGAE UK, one of the largest Eurovision fan clubs in Europe, held its annual convention in Manchester over the first weekend in October. With minimal publicity, the event was still a sell-out, such is the nature of the UK fans. A full programme was the order of the day, culminating with the infamous Eurostars competition.
Manchester was again the host city for Eurobash 2011, and 120 delegates made it for a fun-packed day all built around Europe’s favourite musical talent show.
Everything kicked off at 1pm, with a speech by OGAE UK President Paul Marks-Jones. He reminded us that the fan club was continuing to grow, giving the UK a bigger voice in all matters Eurovision. He was followed by the quiz, won by knowing a combination of outfits, cover versions and Eurovision songs with colours in the titles. How many could you name?
Every year, a contest of songs from previous years is put together after a vote by OGAE members during the year. Fourteen songs battled it out, with the tables divided into juries to pick a winner. Romping away with it was the fan favourite This is my life by Euroband.
Also, every year, OGAE invites several guests to give us an insight into Eurovision, tell us some anecdotes, and maybe give us a song. This maybe a different tack from other national OGAE clubs, but it works surprisingly well. First up was SVT supremo Peter Lundin. He first got involved in Eurovision in May 1999 when he got a call from a certain Svante Stockselius who was in Jerusalem at the time. It was Peter’s idea to open the 2000 contest to the paying public, encouraging more fams to attend. He also came up the concept on expanding Sweden’s Melodifestivalen, and taking it around the country, again to increase interest. He got Christer Björkman involved, and wanted to develop it as a celebration of Swedish music, and not necessarily to pick a Eurovision winner. He finished off with telling us a story of when he met the Beatles and accepting a cigarette off Paul McCartney. Fiinally, Peter’s next job was to help cut down the 3,485 entries for Melodifestivalen 2012 to a mere 1,300.
Next to be interviewed were sisters Kate & Jane Robbins. They were two of the girls in the UK’s 1980 representatives Prima Donna. Jane, who was 17 in 1980, has now largely retired from the entertainment industry and is a renowned portrait sculptor. One of her most famous pieces is a bronze statue of the late Linda McCartney in Campbellton, in Scotland – Paul McCartney is their cousin. Kate, on the other hand, is still entertaining some 30 years later. Among her credits are the British TV series Surprise surprise, Robbins, Dinnerladies and Spitting Image. They told us a little about their experience in 1980, meeting Terry Wogan, kissing Johnny Logan (with his ‘renaissance face’), failing A-Levels and subsequent musical careers. Kate had a number 2 hit on the UK charts in 1981 with More than in love.
Finally we were treated to Love City Groove members Stephen ‘Beanz’ Rudden and Paul Hardy. Love City Groove was selected in 1995 in a very contemporary competition for its day. With pop supremo Jonathan King running the show, all songs were previewed on the BBC programme Top of the pops. An appearance on this show was, we were told, the clincher for them to participate. The name of he band and song came one day in the recording studio. It was a ‘biblical sunny day with a lot of love around in the city’. For the contest itself, they thought the song suffered because of the orchestra – Love City Groove isn’t an orchestral song – and they had to wait for the sound of a triangle for the song to start. The band split up son afterwards, until very recently when Beanz called Paul to reform, starting with a 2011 version of the song (see video below). They’ve re-written the rap and given it a fresher feel.
After the break for the evening meal, everyone was back for what has become the highlight for many – Eurostars. For those who don’t know, Eurovision fans perform a song, dressed as who they are supposed to be. The performances are all on Youtube, but among the highlights were Jedward, Azúcar Morena, Stjórnin and Lena Philipsson. All the delegates get to vote for their top three, and while these were being put together, Love City Groove were back to perform the aforementioned 2011 mix of their song, and then sang a song composed 24 hours earlier (video below). The winner was Emily Roberts performing a very credible rendition of Safura’s Drip drop from 2010.
With that out of the way, all the remained was the disco and general mingle till the wee small hours.
We’d like to thank all the organisers of this year’s Bash. As ever, it exceeded expectations and was good to catch up. Eurobash 2012 details will be announced soon, but the advice is to get in early.