Beards and happiness: Iceland's entry, Pollaponk, came 15th in this year's Eurovision Song Contest (photo: Albin Olsson)
There is no point in going to a Eurovision party intending only to enjoy the song contest ironically. Different rules apply. It is better to start by accepting that by most people's standards it is terrible and trashy and work upwards from there.
Some of those at the party I went to tried to retain some dignity by calling every song by a guitar band good while ridiculing all ruthlessly engineered Scandinavian pop songs, but if you have chosen to go to a Eurovision party there is really no redeeming yourself. My own technique, which is really an elaborate and subtle joke, is to become an expert and bore everyone around me by saying wisely, after every entry, "Of course, they like that sort of thing," while taking assiduous notes.
The problem with a Eurovision party is that because everyone thinks their jokes are the best no one stays quiet long enough to hear any of the songs (some might prefer it that way). The advantage is that if no one appreciates your excellent joke, or at least says "Well done, that was a good joke, A+," you can post it to Twitter.
The vast social media party during Eurovision is one of the best parts of the contest in recent years. There is sincere enthusiasm ("I love #Europe with all my heart!!!"), anger ("SHUT UP AND TELL US YOUR POINTS"), threats ("#bringbackjedward2014"), and even poetry: "People are hiding in their caves/Night is falling on all of us/Darkness in the heart of every European/The final of Eurovision is coming."
An integral part of the Eurovision experience now is the reactions of confused Americans: "Why is everyone tweeting about cheesecake?"; "What is a Eurovision?"; "What is happening Europe are you OK?"; "I hope Australia wins!!" Last year someone called Romania's entry Cezar a "gay dubstep glitter vampire" and got a confused reply from a Romanian girl: "I don't understand, he isn't gay?", which I like to think of as an example of Eurovision bringing Europe closer together. (Whether he was a vampire remains unconfirmed.)
I also enjoyed the international flavour of the post-game despondency: "I was a fool to believe Europe is happy and optimist environment :'(" someone posted when their favourite, Iceland (Twitter: "men dressed as Smarties singing about ending prejudice") didn't score well.
But the best part of Eurovision is the suggestion that underneath it all every country is just slightly at war — as one Tumblr user put it, "4 POINTS?? WE GAVE YOU TWELVE YOU F***ING TRAITOR SEE IF WE ACT AS YOUR ALLY IN THE NEXT WORLD WAR YOU JUDAS SCUM."