Despite the formality of the Swedish Club in Seattle’s West Lake Union, a place where one was welcomed with a spacious foyer and a glistening chandelier, there was nothing but buzzing excitement when it held its Eurovision Watch Party on May 13. The first time event taking in place in eight years, due to conflicts over where to host it, ended up playing out as if they’ve never left.
With a full house on the third floor, along with occasional trips to the bar, people of all ages came over to watch the Eurovision grand final. One person arrived with a “Bejba” shirt, not meaning to vote for Poland but willing to lean into the meme in “Solo”. Another wore a blonde wig and tight pants to represent Conchita and Maneskin, all at once. One woman brought a Lithuanian flag to support Monika Linkyte, another had a Swedish flag to support Loreen.
“Seattle, in a lot of ways, was quite a Scandinavian center–especially Ballard, that was extremely Norwegian, and Swedish, and Icelandic,” Haffi Haff, who was born in the Magnolia district of Seattle to Icelandic parents, said. “And also because Sweden has historically pumped out a lot of really fantastic music–they have won many times.” It reflected in the Nordic cuisine served that afternoon, as well as the desserts, but everyone was all together from across the world. One Swedish woman who lived in Seattle brought her friend from Peru, who was watching her first contest.
A Eurovision fan himself, as well as a singer-songwriter, Haffi Haff also displayed his talents during the interval act of the show. He covered his songs from his Songvakeppnin appearances, as well as Euphoria, 1944, and Waterloo. Always determined to tell his stories through his songwriting, bringing his five friends to his performance in the national final, Haffi Haff demonstrated the same towards everybody.
The atmosphere of the room was hovered up and down depending on the mood, but it never was boring. Loreen’s Tattoo got a high reception across the crowd, only matched by that for Kaarija’s Cha Cha Cha. And it reflected in the end of the voting, with everybody on their toes to see who would win!
“It’s amazing–what a fun and entertaining four hours–at least in the Grand Final. You’ve got points and you’ve got upsets–sometimes it’s going in one direction and sometimes it’s going in another direction–it doesn’t involve any violence, it doesn’t involve any political…It’s just music!” Haffi Haff commented on why people should get engaged with the contest–while the United States had some of the highest voting figures with the Rest of the World Vote, it still has a long way to go in terms of recognition.
While Eurovision ended predictably, with Loreen winning and garnering the seventh trophy for Sweden, it definitely ended with music! With the audience dancing to ABBA songs, and Haffi performing for those who were left, the Swedish Club can be sure to host another viewing party next year.