Euroshambles at the Flinders

Eurovision on the Poseidon?

Eurovision on the Poseidon?

The cover charge was $5. I would have gladly paid $10 if they’d just given me a warning: “this will be the worst organised shambles of a Eurovision party ever. Rush home immediately and save yourself!” Actually, I’d have paid even $20 for that advice.

Last night we decided to do something different for Eurovision. Normally we have our own party – hosted by the redoubtable James – with our own voting slips and our own competition. This year we decided to try something different. A social club called ‘Gay4Play’ (yes, it really is called that and yes, it does sound very similar to a certain website!) put on their 2nd annual Eurovision Song Contest event at the Flinders Hotel. Perhaps ‘event’ is too strong a term for the shambolic mess we experienced last night.

As you can see from the picture above, the main screen was a tarpaulin suspended from the ceiling. Not a pristine flat tarpaulin – but a wrinkled old wobbly one that made you feel like everyone on screen was in the Poseidon Adventure just as the boat was flipping over!

For the first couple of hours they played the last 20 minutes of Semifinal #2 over and over again. A continuous loop. Half the venue could hear the sound, half couldn’t. It didn’t get much better when the actual final was on.

At least they went to a bit of effort with some flags and such

At least they went to a bit of effort with some flags and such

The evening’s entertainment (okay, again perhaps not an accurate term) began with a drag queen taking to the stage asking inane trivia questions and obviously having no idea of the crowd she was playing to. Sunday night is normally a ‘bears night’ at the Flinders and this doyen of cross-dressing artistry obviously hadn’t twigged that the pub was full of people who were there because of the E U R O V I S I O N S O N G C O N T E S T – not ‘bears night’. Her single spot number? Barbara Streisand ‘Don’t Rain on my Parade.’ Nothing to do with Eurovision, nothing even European.

We had a code word that one of us was to say if the night was going pear shaped and we needed to escape. Unfortunately none of us was prepared to go that far. We endured it – perhaps naively thinking it might get better.

Eurovision & the chip machine

Eurovision & the chip machine

We scouted out locations for the best view. Upstairs was like a mortuary and there was no signal coming through to the television (not connected to the main system apparently). Later there was a signal but very little sound and the Rookwood atmosphere prevailed.

The little back-lounge area seemed our only hope. As you can see above, we settled for a view of Eurovision that competed with the chip machine. There was no sound except that coming in from the shambolic system in the main room.

You could not get a drink without waiting for eons. They had about 2-3 bar staff and a couple of hundred patrons desperately trying to get a drink. It was incredibly frustrating and the service was incredibly slow.

At least they didn't run out of paper towel in the men's loo

At least they didn't run out of paper towel in the men's loo

The most amazing hell was yet to come – the airconditioning. Now I love airconditioning, just love it. But this was cold night and without the airconditioning the temperature inside the venue was just about right. But they insisted on having all of the powerful airconditioning units blasting cold air throughout the venue. We had to put jackets back on and it was literally freezing in parts of the venue. We moved out of one ice zone straight into the another. In the end, we decided to just grin and bear it.

James, Grant and JudgeG early on in the evening

James, Grant and JudgeG early on in the evening

I should point out that Grant was being very patient throughout the whole ordeal. He was the one sceptic when the idea of attending the Gay4Play Eurovision night was floated. But he went along with the majority and gritted his teeth throughout much of the evening. He didn’t leave, he just said ‘never ever again.’ And I knew it wasn’t an idle threat.

What really confused me about the whole thing is that I was organising theme nights at the Flinders in the late 80s/early 90s and they worked fantastically. Everyone in the venue could hear the sound, there were enough staff to serve all patrons efficiently and (even with cigarette smoke back then) the temperature and atmosphere were great. Surely with all the technological improvements in the last decade it shouldn’t be that hard to competently organise something like a Eurovision night in 2009?

There wasn’t even any ‘Eurovision’ music playing before or after the telecast – a Madonna medley came on afterwards. And upstairs in the sort of restaurant/lounge/bar area, some kind of techno/trance music was playing up until the start of the telecast. Does the phrase NFI ring a bell?

Go Sweden!

Go Sweden!

The problem is really this: GayforPlay”s Flinders Hotel Eurovision night is the only game in town. There’s no competition.

There’s been a huge increase in interest from Australians in the ESC over the last few years – particularly this year. James checked with a few other venues but none of them had contemplated doing anything. A night like this would be perfect for downstairs at the Midnight Shift, for example. Or even Palms – with a few TVs or a digital projector and screen placed in a central position. And, being a Sunday night, it would mean a lot of $$$ for the venue that did it properly.

Last night was full of Eurovision tragics – both Aussies and those visiting from overseas/backpacking their way around Oz. They were probably expecting something similar to the kind of Eurovision nights held in venues in London and other major Gay cities in Europe. What they got was a ‘euroshambles.’

At least the final result of the night was a good one: Alexander from Norway put on a wonderful performance and it was fantastic to see his reaction when he won. Not only won but basically demolished the competition. It was sad for us that Sweden did really badly but there were a lot of good songs and performances this year.

Poor Alexander from Norway looked all out of shape on the big tarpaulin!

Poor Alexander from Norway looked all out of shape on the big tarpaulin!



  1. […] friend Graeme has described the night as Euroshamble at The Flinders. Graeme always has stronger views on most subjects than I do. And on the Myers-Briggs scale, […]

  2. A bullet safely dodged by my non-attendance. Nice to see the Flinders delivering their usual standard of customer service.

  3. A lesson learned. Lots of promise, but not much delivered. A couple of things here and there would have helped. The drag queen could have done a classic Eurovision number, instead of a generic drag number. They could have had “voting forms” with a prize/ceremony at the end. I don’t understand why Madonna was the music before and after the screening. A few classic Eurovision numbers (and there are many) would have set the scene etc. I sense the crowd was mostly interested in Eurovision, though I’m not convinced the organisers were as hard-core. By the way… do you think you could email me higher quality pics?

  4. […] I love Eurovision. Okay, I may not be as obsessed with it as some others but I always make a ritual of watching it – semi-finals and all. Usually it involves a party at James’ place (and a couple of times at my place) but this year it was suggested that we try something different and we go to the Eurovision night held at the Flinders Hotel. Well, that was a disaster and Graeme has reported quite fully on that debacle. […]

  5. Alexander looks like he’s beaming up to the Starship Enterprise in that last pic.

  6. Thanks for saying exactly what I was thinking. I just didn’t want to say anything and you’re right, I was gritting my teeth. But I didn’t want to be the killjoy. I’m glad I wasn’t alone.

    A big thumbs down to the Flinders Hotel and Gay4Play. It takes more than a few flags (and many of them were not even European ones at that) to put on a good Eurovision event.

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