It might be a Song Contest, but Eurovision is more than just the three minutes on stage in front of the world. It’s a contest that brings together people from around the world – Norway’s “share the moment” was pretty close to the mark.
But those people, the fans, each one of them has their own story, a view on Eurovision unique to them. We thought it was time these stories were heard.
Who are you?
Hassan Yusuf (but call me Hass). I’m too old to remember my age, but I’m from a Turkish Cypriot background who has grown up in London aided by the likes of Doctor Who and the Carry On films! I’m a magazine art director by profession.
How did it all start?
I may have watched Sandie Shaw and Cliff Richard, but I clearly remember Lulu coming joint-first. I was hooked from then on. The first record I bought with my pocket money was the UK entry ‘Knock, Knock, Who’s There?’ by Mary Hopkin.
How did you get personally involved with the Song Contest?
My Eurovision connection at the moment is editing and designing Vision magazine for OGAE UK – the UK branch of the international Eurovision fan organisation. Check us out on www.uk.ogae.net and join the club! There are lots of benefits including getting Vision.
I actually got involved with Eurovision fandom quite late on in life. The first convention I went to in 1997 organised by the Eurovision Network club was a bit of an eye-opener! I didn’t realise there were so many fanatics! There were people there who could recite song titles, how many points they scored, etc. I’ve never personally bothered with all that stuff – I just love the contest. The conventions were great, mainly because they introduced me to many great friends.
The Network club ended early this century, so I was persuaded by a friend to join this strange club called ‘OGAE UK’. I admit it was entirely for the wrong reasons – to get a ticket to see Eurovision live in Riga, 2003. But I soon made up for my ulterior motive – as I offered to help out on Vision. OGAE is a fab organization – it’s good for the fans and good for Eurovision. The event is nothing without all those flag-waving OGAE members at the front!
The only bad thing about seeing Eurovision live, is not organising all those parties on the night at home anymore. It was great fun spending the evening with friends watching and voting on all the songs – and even on the appearance of the conductors!
How do you like to celebrate Eurovision?
Well my celebrating never really stops! Vision takes up a lot of my spare time all year round – but during the actual two-week Eurovision period, I’m there from day one going to the first rehearsal, press conference and party! It’s 15 days of hard work but great fun. Writing the daily blog for the website during these weeks is very rewarding.
I do consider myself quite patriotic and have had various Union Jack outfits made for me by a shop in London’s Carnaby Street. I only wear it on two occasions though – at the Welcoming Party and on final night. I may look like a bit of a nutter, but it’s fun getting into the mood of things. And besides, I see it as my duty to promote the UK as much as possible.
Favourite Eurovision moment?
I have to admit, my favourite experience was seeing Turkey win live in Riga in 2003! It was my first Eurovision abroad and I waited since 1975 for Turkey to finally win! For years they just seemed like the whipping horse of Eurovision, but finally they made it!
Coming from an ethnic background can be an advantage. It allows me to support my ethnic country in the semis and the UK in the final. Even though I was happy that Turkey won in 2003, I was peeved that the UK came last. Definitely had mixed emotions that evening.
I like to think that Eurovision brings countries together. In Riga, I was sitting with my friend John Hodgkiss next to an elderly Greek woman. She was having great difficultly waving her Greek flag so we gave her hand! Poor John not only had to put up with her on one side, but I think I deafened him when Turkey won! I look forward to losing my voice once more when the UK wins again!
My other personal wishes are to see a united Cyprus enter the contest and for Portugal to finally win.
Thank you , Hass!
Do you have a Eurovision story to tell? A heartwarming moment that sums up why you became a fan? Or a funny tale of how your life collided with the Song Contest? Then get in touch with us as we continue to ‘Meet the Eurovision fans’