Peaceful Switzerland, unforgettable!

There I was, in February 1991, just about to start my studies at the university and with ample time till the first course on the 1st of April. As a good friend of mine had just started university in Montreux, Switzerland, I thought it would be a good idea to combine a nice stay in the Western Alps with a Eurovision Song Contest experience: Swiss TV had announced that they would hold their national selection in Vevey - just next to Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva. Having been a Eurovision Song Contest fan for several years already, I was eager to see what kind of experience it would be to attend such an event live - I didn't know that it would turn out to be an unforgettable memory!

The Swiss selection that year had a lot of interesting names in it, like Daniela Simons who had already represented Switzerland in the 1986 Eurovision Song Contest and coming second and also Carol Rich who had defended the Swiss colours one year later. I arrived just in time for the televised show in the small Vevey venue - and couldn't believe what my ears were hearing!

May I remind you that February 1991 was the crisis month of the first Iraq war? The Swiss organisers had decided that their national finalevent was likely to be a target for the war weapons from Iraq. Almost an hour before the Swiss final started, we were explicitly shown how to prepare ourselves for a hostile attack - with gas masks being readily there for our safety! I did wonder why anyone would want to attack peaceful Vevey, but hey - this was the first time I was faced with this kind of event and little did I know! Of course, nothing happened during the show - despite the fact that beautiful Sandra Simo won it - but it left me wondering if all Eurovision Song Contest events would have safety measures like that. Later, much later, I got to know that it wouldn't be the case and I was somehow disappointed that for my first Eurovision Song Contest that I attended, there weren't any protective gas masks in use anymore... 

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