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6 Best things the Eurovision Song Contest brings to your city

Since the contest descended on Malmo last week I’ve even learned to see silver and gold lame lining of Eurovision Song Contest 2013.I’ve avoided Eurovision Song Contest for the five years I’ve lived in Scandinavia yet realized that unless you spend the week hiding in your apartment’s bomb shelter ( yes most apartments in Sweden have bomb shelters) you can not hide from it.

1. the GAY!

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The Eurovision is like Cirque du Soleil meets American Idol during Carnival.Granted living in the gay mecca of San Francisco for 11 years informed me about the complexity of the gay world. I understand sexual orientation does not pigeon hole anyone into one thin spectrum of the rainbow flag. The gay community contains many different flavors from macho bears ( google it) to glow stick waving drag queens. Yet after 5 years in Malmo, my wife and I wonder often out loud  “ Where’s the gay?” We pined for the flamboyancy, the glitter, the glow stick waving camp that gay culture brings. Eurovision offers everyone the opportunity to bring on the fabulous.
Pink Limos appear in Malmo the week of the Eurovision Song Contest

Pink Limos appear in Malmo the week of the Eurovision Song Contest

2. Smiles and direct eye contact.

Scandinavians cultural norms dictate avoidance of eye contact and smiling at strangers. (Although staring from a distance is acceptable)While at Kulturen, the cultural museum in Lund, last week a group of boisterous strange looking people approached us, smiling and making direct eye contact. Having acclimated to Scandinavian culture I diverted my eyes, held onto my wallet, and reached for my phone and rang the police. As Gianluca, the Maltese Eurovision entry, introduced himself to my 7-year-old daughter and her friend, signing autographs, taking photos and handing out swag, I phoned the police back to explain we were not being attack but rather ran into a Eurovision contestant. The approaching police sirens in the distance stopped suddenly.

3. Openly gay people

While at Tuesday’s Eurovision semi final I chatted with the man seated next to me.Realizing he was not local I asked what brought him to the contest. “ My boyfriend is one of the choreographers.” He stated ‘Your boyfriend?’ I wondered? Having grown accustomed misreading the standard effeminate, over-groomed straight Swedish guys wearing scarfs in the summer for gay guys, I found it refreshing to meet a normal, openly gay guy. My gaydar recalibrated I felt as if I was back in San Francisco.

4. Swag!

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Remember this is a fan voting based contest. So the charm offensive includes not just meeting, greeting, taking photos and signing autographs but bribing with gifts as well. Thus far my family has acquired CDs, buttons, T-shirts, comic books and free tickets to the semi final. I even know a guy who scored a case of Baileys!

5. Pulse

For all it’s charm Malmo can not compare to San Francisco, New York or  London.Recently while visiting Malmo’s Triangeln shopping center, one of the cities ‘must see!’ destination,  I discovered they close at 5:30 on Saturday night. The announcement blared over the loud speakers in the tone and urgency of an emergency warning for an approaching tsunami. So Eurovision brings the much needed pulse to a city that rolls up its sidewalks by 6 PM on Saturday.

6. Color and Flare

Steven Karwoski embraces the FLARE of Eurovison

Steven Karwoski embraces the FLARE of Eurovison

Malmo’s fashion color palate seems at best inspired by teen-age Goth of the 90s, lots of brown to blacks. Stunning young women layer themselves in frumpy bland clothes dressed like middle aged pensioners in awkward berets- not in a hipster sense of irony way either. Even as a fashion challenged male I know a fashion mess when I see one. ( I look in  the mirror everyday)Eurovision allows one to dress in outrageously colorful outfits without the threat of being institutionalized or offered your own TV show on Sweden’s comedy network ( The latter being moot as they do not have a comedy network)

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