Two years ago, we chatted with Gilad Mandelboim, co-founder of Europhoria. His goal was to bring a bit of Eurovision to the United States.
See the original article HERE
Europhoria is entering its third year. And as sponsors of his first international foray in Sweden at Eurovision 2013, I still have fond memories of hanging out with him at the Euro Fan Café. We wanted to check back in with Gilad to see how he and his event is doing!
ESC UNITED: Remind folks about how Europhoria started.
GILAD: I moved to NYC 4 years ago and I was looking for my little corner of “home” and while risking having the readers experience an “eye-roll” sprain, I’d say Eurovision was always my little corner of “home.”
Growing up in Israel, I’ve experienced this while gathering together and watching it with my family every year as a kid, fighting to stay up late and not fall asleep, witnessing how Dana International’s victory made my home country a more tolerant place to live in, and finally flying to be a part of this mega-event and establishing strong life-lasting friendships. I’ve shared the greatest moments with the most wonderful people.
I wanted to create that home in NYC. I wanted to share this with others, and this is how this journey began. Possibly from a lonely, yet passionate place.
ESC UNITED: So what’s new? How is the third year going so far?
GILAD: Season 3 of Europhoria has been such a wonderful ride. We found the right venue that understands our passion – Pieces Bar. We moved from a Monday night monthly event to a Friday night monthly event. We’re bringing in more people, every month we see new enthusiastic faces of people who know the lyrics, and know the moves. We always have some new Euro-curious who are watching this energetic force of Eurovision fans.
ESC UNITED: What has been the biggest challenge?
GILAD: The biggest challenge was reviving Europhoria after leaving Hardware Bar. Hardware bar was a great partner and a fun bar but we had some trust issues. The fact is, once we decided to leave, they tried to do a Eurovision night with Oscar Loya. At first, I got really upset, then I took a long breath and reminded myself that 6 months ago there were no Eurovision events in NYC and now there might be 2 competing events. This is what I wanted. It’s not about ego. It’s about fun. Finding the right partner took some time, There were events in which I had to DJ, or events in which I found myself spending my own money to produce, but I kept going, as long as I was passionate and learning along the way… you gotta keep on walking, keep on walking 🙂
ESC UNITED: And the biggest pleasant surprise?
GILAD: It was Malmo without a doubt. The event we collaborated with ESC United. I was honored to be a part of the official Euro Fan Cafe for the first time. The venue was amazing. The vibe was sublime. We had close to 500 guests, yet it felt so natural and easy. During the events in NYC, at least the first year, I was always “working the room”. I walked around, talked to people, networked, did PR.
In Malmo, I remember this one moment, I was sitting aside wrapped around a wonderful person I met, watching the event I created evolve by itself, by the fans, I observed their appreciation and felt that I can finally let go, relax and enjoy. It’s going well, I’m not needed. It was home.
ESC UNITED: Tell me about some of the Eurovision artists with whom you have worked!
GILAD: We’ve worked with so many great artists. Annet Artani was such a pro and such a sweetheart. She is so talented. She took it so seriously and gave an amazing performance. I do hope to see her do Eurovision again.
In Copenhagen, Malta’s Firelight were the most wonderful people, so energetic, so down to earth, it was such a pleasure working with the entire Maltese delegation. They had such a busy schedule, yet were so friendly, accessible and kept appreciating and interacting with the fans. Pollaponk was a fun gang too. And as for Chiara, let’s just say we will not be working with her again.
ESC UNITED: So what’s next?
GILAD: Personally or ESC-professionally? ESC-related, first we take NYC, then we take America 🙂
The ultimate goal is to have ESC the next super-bowl of America (eye roll #2), where all the people go out on a Saturday afternoon, meet at a bar, drink and cheer. Even straight people… yes! (they’d go for the drunk girls of course, there’s a value proposition for everybody)
Personally, in ten years I will be going to the annual Eurovision event wherever it may be, with my husband and kids, all dressed up in the cutest Eurovision outfits and having people tell me I haven’t aged at all since this interview.
ESC UNITED: What will help make Eurovision accessible to Americans? Or better yet, what attitude should Americans have towards something such as Eurovision?
GILAD: Many Americans have European background, so while Europeans celebrate their nationality, Americans can celebrate and support their heritage. Furthermore, it’s entertainment, and this country produces and consumes so much entertainment. If the EBU determines the US as a market they want to tap into, they could always form an international jury and have the American public and other countries vote for their favorite song. This may also balance the political voting.
ESC UNITED: Last question. Who’s your favorite entry this year?
GILAD: Favorite 2015 entry: Australia! So happy to have them in. I think the EBU is doing a wonderful job keeping the Eurovision current, ever-changing and adapting to today’s media trends. Today the Eurovision is about more than just music. It’s a reality variety show about storytelling. Conchita told a great story and Australia is also a great add to that story-telling mixture.
You can watch Annet perform her Eurovision entry “Why Angels cry” at Europhoria HERE
ESC United: Thanks Gilad! Best of luck and hope to see you in NYC soon!
Gilad: Thank you! After regaining trust with Hardware bar, we are happy to host our annual viewing party there.
If you’re in New York City during Eurovision, make sure to swing by and join the party! We would like to thank Gilad for talking to us and wish him the best of luck!