"‘Welcome to the Eurovision Song Contest, from Baku in Europe!’ greeted star-eyed host Eldar ‘Ell’ Gasimov, the 2011 contest in a duo with Nigar Jamal.
The flamboyant contest was held in a fantastic newly erected Crystal Hall, a shimmering glass and steel building on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The atmosphere and festive mood of kitch glitz and glamour, with outlandish hair-does and exquisite dress codes more than match the glittery exterior of the venue.
During the finals, short video clips introducing contending countries reveal amazing and breathtaking scenery, stunning architecture, both old and new, and portray the country as a modern multi-cultural state. That’s the image Azerbaijan’s government is keen to project to the world through hosting the Eurovision song contest – that the country is secular, progressive and part of Europe.
But behind the curtains of a carefully crafted image, away from the flaunty spectacle, the flashy and ostentatious Crystal Hall, life for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Azeris is far less dazzling as they live in the shadows of a brutal authoritarian regime." - Pink News