While attending the World Youth Festival, sponsored by the pro-government Yeni Azerbaycan Partiyasi (New Azerbaijan Party) youth organization Ireli, I had a chance to meet Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Camal, better known as Ell + Nikki, winners of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest hosted in Düsseldorf, Germany. Their victory means Azerbaijan gets to play host to next year’s contest. As a very serious observer of the contest and perhaps most interestingly, the politics surrounding the contest, this was no small thrill.
When Azerbaijan won last May, I was nowhere near Europe or a place to watch the contest, but I knew almost immediately of Azerbaijan’s victory. I had already secured the Fulbright grant to Azerbaijan; my close friends and family who are well aware of my obsession with the Eurovision competition made sure I knew who the victor was. Quite simply, my phone blew up. Several months before I arrived in Baku, I think it was the first sign that I was really on my way to Azerbaijan.
From yesterday’s brief remarks at the opening of the World Youth Festival and the evening concert of “Running Scared” by Ell and Nikki:
The winning song, “Running Scared”:
Party in the Baku!