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This is not the beginning of the story, this is me, explaining all of you Americans the fundamental stuff about the Eurovision Song Contest, so you understand when I'm going technical.

I do like Eurovision, I grew up with a big ABBA fan as a mother, maybe not in the levels of my Best Friend, Leonora, who follows up the news year-around, but still I enjoy going to a club and have a party while watching it.

It's celebrated every year in May since 1956. Yes, except this year, what it fucked up lots of plans. We had actual tickets to go see it live in Rotterdam. And as the name says it's an international song contest, where every artist entries defending their country. Since the 2000s it has around 40 participant countries each year. Claire would be in the story representing the United Kingdom, which hasn't had that much luck on the last years, with a bottom position just past year. Not that I can make a joke about it, I'm German, we have had like three Bottoms in the last five years, and we got no points from the public past year too. At least we won once in this century (2010), UK's last victory was in 1997.

Basic rules- Each country sends a song, 3min max, six people max on stage. There's a jury vote and a public vote. Points go 1-8 and then 10 and 12. And you can't vote to your own country from your own country, like I can't vote for Germany, from Germany, but you can if you live somewhere else in Europe. That's why Turkey got so many points from Germany back when they used to participate, we have a huge Turkish population here.

That's called Diaspora vote, when a country gives one of the big points (8-10-12) to another country because they have a big community from the receiving country living in there that votes for their country of origin. Then you have the Bloc Vote, that's when a country votes for another because of their cultural and historical ties, good example, Russia and Belarus, Cyprus and Greece and Sweden and Norway.

There's a couple of ways a country decides their entry to the Contest. Some countries have their own competitions, called National Finals amongst the fans, to select their artist publicly, the biggest one being Sweden's Melodifestivalen. We used to have one, Unser lied fur..., but we scraped it this year for the other most common method, the Internal selection, where the channels just decide who goes indoors with the help of a committee of experts. Claire is going to an Internal. Less work that organize a big final.

There's three shows, two semi-finals and one big final. United Kingdom is automatically qualified for the final as a member of the so called Big 5, the countries who contribute the most money to the EBU (the organisers of Eurovision) as it's Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The last automatic qualifier is the host country, which traditionally is the winner of the last edition (The Netherlands won in Israel, which won in Portugal, which won in Ukraine, which worn in Sweden... you get the drill). I'm thinking in set the story in Cyprus, I wanted them to win a couple years ago. Plus the rehearsals and the events related to the contest the story would happen in around three weeks, enough time for Jamie and Claire to fall in love while some Italian guy is in the background dressed as a gorilla. No, really, it actually happened.

What it takes to the most important thing you must learn about Eurovision, IT'S ****ING CRAZY, but in a really funny way. Every year there's a couple of really crazy entries, with eccentric personalities and costumes, google Lordi or Verka Serduchka, and we, the fans love those idiots to pieces. Also, it's really big in the LGBT community, a cousin of mine and almost every other gay friend I have are big fans too.

I'm using real people who participated on the contest as Claire's competition, because well, it's 40 of them, a lot to create from scratch and also, I can use the songs as a sort of soundtrack for Jamie and Claire to fall in love with. Claire is also using a song that appeared at Sweden's national selection. Leonora is going to take the ducks out of me for that, she's more into the Norwegians than the Swedish, but it also reflects where Claire is at the beginning of the story.

And so I'm leaving you some of the songs I have already selected for the fic. This is Claire's song- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb4Etdp1FbE.

This is quite old compared with the other ones, from the mid-00s while others are from the past five, six years. It comes from Russia, and the guy actually went on to win the Contest a couple of years later with another song- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waYpnAexrUA I'm adding it because the chorus kinda sounds like the book's wedding vows- Flesh of flesh, blood of my blood. Love is carving in the stones.

This one comes from Bulgaria, it actually got the silver medal of its year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCZjiCqEaog

And this is my funny entry of my imaginary year, which actually is the bronze in the same year of the one above. Everyone in the fandom loves this guys. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCZjiCqEaog

Any other questions will be adressed in due time. Hope y'all Americans enjoy the craziest thing at this side of the pond.