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Eurovision 2000-2014 - a Danish adventure
ESC returns to Copenhagen
It has finally been announced, that the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 will take place in Copenhagen, following Emmelie de Forests victory in MalmÃ¶ - just across the water from Copenhagen - last May. It has been 13 years since the Olsen Brothers won the ESC 2000, which was then also held in Sweden, although a bit farther away in Stockholm.
I remember when Denmark last won
I watched the Eurovision Song Contest 2000 on a small cafÃ© in the Spanish city of Malgrat de Mar, together with my then girlfriend (now my wife). The song contest held special interest to me that year, because JÃ¸rgen - one of the Olsen Brothers - had once been my music teacher in elementary school, and he had often played some of the tunes for us with which he competed in the national selection contests in the 1980s.
Nobody had really expected the two old guys, whose career had topped in the 1970s with a number of hits in Denmark and Germany, to win the ESC, which had by then become more and more about appearances, stage shows and dance rhytms. But as the evening progressed the numbers started adding up, and even the eventual runners-up from Russia gave the brothers a maximum score of 12.
Our hosts at the restaurant in Malgrat had noticed that something special was going on, and so even though it was after hours for them, and we were the only customers in the place, the staff joined us in watching the remainder of the final and offered us hearty congratulations when in the end the Olsen Brothers won by a huge margin with a total score of 195 to Russia's 155.
Following the victory of my old music teacher in Stockholm in 2000, the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Copenhagen in 2001. The venue was Parken Arena, and it was the first time in the history of the contest, that it was being held on such a large scale. The arena could hold up to 35,000 spectators on the evening of the final, dwarfing the previous year's Globen arena in Stockholm, which had "just" 16,000 spectators.
And this time, my girlfriend and I were in the arena itself - not for the actual final, though, but for the dress rehearsal, which had much the same show, but not quite the same intense atmosphere - and with no real voting taking place, of course.
It was quite the experience to watch the show, which we had both followed since we were kids, live. The experience was slightly marred by the awful concept of "the rhyming hosts" - almost everything that was being said by hosts SÃ¸ren Pilmark and Natasja Crone was done in rhyming couplets, which made it sound extremely artificial. This lead long time British ESC commentator Terry Wogan to name them "Dr. Death and the Tooth Fairy".
In the end, Latvia won the ESC in Copenhagen - the third Baltic sea country to win in as many years. Denmark came in an impressive second place with a song that quickly faded from memory.
Fast forward 12 more years almost to the date. Bare-footed teenager Emmelie de Forest walked on stage in MalmÃ¶, just 30 kilometers from Copenhagen, on the other side of Ãresund, the strait separating the Danish island of Zeeland from mainland Sweden.
Although in some ways the anti-thesis of the Olsen Brothers, being young, innocent and unknown, she did much the same thing as they had done by performing an original and atypical ESC song without too many special effects and few dance rhytms. She did go on stage bare footed though, which just contributed to her "innocent" image - in sharp contrast to fx Norway's Margaret Berger who, dressed in leather and accompanied by heavy drum and bass rhytms, performed the suggestive song "I Feed You My Love".
I did not have the pleasure of watching the final this year. I was on a long awaited journey to Scotland, visiting the 18th century home of author and advocate James Boswell (1740-1795) in the countryside near Auchinleck, an hours drive from Glasgow. Having gotten back to my hotel, the Dumfries Arms in Cumnock, I had a few beers with my travelling companion, Hans, and around midnight I checked my smartphone for news. Main story was: Denmark had done it again! Emmelie de Forest had won with her song "Only Teardrops" and the song contest was to be performed in Denmark in 2014. We celebrated by having another beer.
And so, next year the ESC will be held in Denmark, more specifically in Copenhagen, which was announced a few days ago. This time it won't be in Parken but in the old production halls of B&W, a former shipyard and engine manufacturer, which was dissolved in 1980. Their halls on the Refshale island at the tip of the Copenhagen harbour has been mostly silent for several years, but are now about to be redeveloped and put to new use as part of the song contest. They won't hold as large an audience as Parken did, but there may be the possibility of making some related ESC "parties" near the actual show venue, with some sort of interaction going on between the official show and the "satellites". Perhaps even an entire Eurovision Island.
The decision to place the ESC in Copenhagen dragged out for a few months, as a few cities on the Jutland peninsula, Horsens and Herning, threw in their lot as well. Both of them have one interesting venue each, which could be an option if that was the only selection criteria. However, as one blogger pointed out, hotels in the vicinity of Herning can only accomodate about 600 persons at a time, which is by all accounts much too little for a Eurovision Song Contests - I guess it would be difficult even if only the people directly involved in the production should stay there.
So, Copenhagen it is, and we are looking forward to see when the tickets will be released - the entire event will be composed of one final (duh!), two semifinals and six main rehearsals, which are also open to a paying audience, and we have already sort of promised our daughter that we would try to get a ticket for her as well, so. No turning back now.
And finally, my invitation to you is the same as the official slogan of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest: