Where To Find London’s Best Eurovision Parties In 2013

Taking place in Malmo, Sweden this Saturday, 18 May, Eurovision 2013 is the 58th incarnation of this celebration of Europe through music.

Although we stopped taking Eurovision seriously in the UK decades ago (you can probably blame Terry Wogan for this change in attitude, as his famously disparaging commentary featured almost every year from 1971 until 2008 when Graham Norton stepped into his well-worn shoes) some of our European neighbours set great store in the competition. Many use it as an opportunity to strengthen regional ties – the constituent countries of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia always give each other the highest scores, for example.

eurovision london 2013The often kitschy songs that feature every year have led to the Eurovision Song Contest becoming very much a part of the gay calendar in the UK – in fact if you really want to experience the sugary fizz of Eurovision in London, the best places to enjoy the spectacle are invariably the city’s gay bars. Of all of the venues putting on Eurovision evenings this year we would recommend the Retro Bar, which you’ll find just off the Strand. Recognised as having a rather more serious focus on music than its contemporaries, you’re bound to find yourself surrounded by the most dedicated and knowledgeable fans if you pop along early on Saturday evening.

If you want a slightly ‘straighter’ experience (although we can’t imagine that it will be macho by any means!), the Roxy Bar & Screen is also having a Eurovision night – there will be themed cocktails and you’re invited to come along dressed as your favourite Eurovision act – we’ll take an educated guess that there could be upwards of twenty Bennys, Bjorns, Agnethas and Anni-Frids coming through the doors…

There’s another odd phenomenon associated with Eurovision – over the years it has become inextricably tied with Schlager music, that particular brand of bouncy, sugary Europop typified by the likes of Germany’s Modern Talking back in the ’80s, and which has now spread as far as the Balkans and Scandinavia. In fact there’s an annual Schlager music festival each year that coincides with Eurovision, Eurofest.  Although they’re holding a big party in the host city of Malmo this year, London doesn’t miss out – an official event is also taking place at another of London’s gay venues, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. They’ve even managed to get a Eurovision act to participate this year – Slovenia’s Omar Naber, who came 12th in the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest with his song ‘Stop’…

We’ll be here cheering along good old Bonnie Tyler of course – good luck Bonnie!

Post-Eurovision, the entertainment charity TheatreMAD is putting on the West End Eurovision show at the Dominion Theatre on 23 May, which will star Katrina Leskanich leading the casts of London’s top ten West End shows as they stage and choregraph previous Eurovision entries. These will be judged by a celebrity panel including Russel Grant, Jodie Prenger and Celebrity Big Brother winner Rylan Clark. tor finalist and Celebrity Big Brother winner Rylan Clark.

The West End Eurovision show is supporting The Make A Different Trust this year, who will get between 95p and £1 for every vote texted in by members of the audience on the night. Last year the show was won by the cast of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber, but my guess is that this year the seasoned dancers of A Chorus Line will probably have it sown up.

You can book tickets for the West End Eurovision show online here.