Three favourite ABBA fan memories (one was displayed at ABBAWORLD in Melbourne)

I remember when …

after one of our regular jaunts to see ABBA – The Movie with about 150 other cinemagoers at the Valhalla, Glebe, we went back to Sandra and Louise’s place for what ended up as a 12-hour ABBA viewing marathon.

Aussie ABBA fans

We watched endless videos of ABBA in Japan, ABBA in Poland, ABBA in Germany, ABBA in Switzerland, ABBA in the UK … we finally ran out of videos to watch and had to beg Sandra and Louise to let us stay and watch old Countdown specials which featured two seconds of ABBA at the end of each one for 14 weeks when Fernando was Number 1 in the Top Ten.

We couldn’t get enough and none of us were leaving until the last music roll had been played on their antique pianola. Michele, Sandra and Louise were excellent at pianolaing and Money, Money, Money was given new life in a rousing interpretation.

We admired their rare Bjorn and Agnetha dolls, pillows, hat, scrapbooks, magazines and Pekingnese dog named Toby-Bjorn, due to its uncanny resemblance to an ABBA member’s pugnacious squashed-up face.

Louise had whipped up homemade Rocky Road, thus ensuring she’ll be invited to every ABBA fest in the future. The spread included gummi snakes, lollies, dips, fizzy drinks, with frankfurts and sausage rolls for the main course – essential foods for sustaining the marathon effort for viewing endless versions of Thank You For The Music. TC made a special guest star appearance but left early to go to his covetable job of DJing at a remote westie hotel in Pendle Hill.

A minor highlight occurred when I was doing a re-enactment of Agnetha’s incredible bottom wriggle, only to be rudely pushed to one side by Michele (who’d only seen the movie for the first time that day!) saying “No, it’s done like this” as she proceeded to do the best bottom-thrust wriggle ever seen outside of an ABBA concert.

Mark brought his set of ABBA photos imported from overseas and Wazza (a Pink Floyd fan dragged along by Gary) skulked in the corner hogging the Tim Tams.

In the long taxi ride home, Sue revealed her concerns about leaving the iron on at home in a frank warts-and-all conversation.

PS: It was Toby-Bjorn who drooled all over that irreplaceable ABBA magazine – not ME!!!

ABBA vid fest

I remember when …

we held a special dinner party featuring ABBA’s favourite foods and then went to an ABBA disco to mark the visit of Melbourne fan Jill.

There were more logistics to juggle than an ABBA world tour when I dug out Australia’s food doyenne Margaret Fulton’s recipes for ABBA’s favourite food (published in Woman’s Day, March 7, 1977).

I cooked Bjorn’s favourite, Gigot d’Agneau a la Bretonne (a roast leg of lamb with garlic), and Louise created Benny’s Salade Tahitienne (raw fish salad with onion and coconut cream). Mark cooked Agnetha’s fave dish of beef and black bean sauce, and Craig brought along Frida’s, barbecued ribs. Gary brought champagne and Sandra tracked down some authentic Swedish sweets.

Jill was feted like royalty – her fave ABBA track is Thank You For The Music, so I whacked on the Spanish version, which she hadn’t heard before.

We talked while screening the ABBA in Germany TV special (Musikladen) and ABBA – The Story from the Beginning. In a touching moment, using the words printed in the 1994 ABBA fans convention book, we sang along to I’m An A, a short song ABBA sang at their Australian concerts to introduce themselves.

After long discussion, we agreed that Eyes of A Woman was our favourite Agnetha solo album. We listened to Frida’s Swedish version of Fernando and her cover of the Beach Boys’ Wouldn’t It Be Nice, also sung in Swedish!

One of our ABBA dinner parties.

Then Trent and Angus enthralled us by performing their fave Chess songs, particularly I Know Him So Well. We watched Mark’s just-off-the-shelf video of the Thank You For The Music documentary and read Trent’s copy of that book about all of ABBA’s recording sessions. To think that Bjorn first sang The Winner Takes It All in French! What a faux pas!

While this was going on, we were doing my ABBA 160-piece jigsaw puzzle, which took quite a while to force the allegedly “fully interlocking” pieces together.

After a short spurt of cleaning up, we headed to the Flinders hotel, which was holding one of its regular ABBA disco nights.

Here, another fan, Sophie joined us, making a stunning entrance at 10.30pm wearing a green feather boa, emerald-coloured jeans, white socks, bright red Wizard-of-Oz-Dorothy shoes and black feathers. And for what must be a rare occurrence in a gay pub, she also attracted the comment of “she has a cute bum” from an admiring male onlooker.

Sandra and Louise were captivating in their white ABBA T-shirts which gleamed under the Flinders’s UV lights. Gary, who usually bundles several breathtaking changes of disco clothes in his car in case anyone else looks more stunning, quickly hit the dancefloor with his flashy audience-pleasing moves.

An attractive blond bloke bragged to me that he’d written to Stig years ago asking if he could meet ABBA. “I only got a meeting with Stig!,” he moaned. “It cost me thousands, and all I got was Stig’s autograph!”

The DJ gave away prizes to those who could answer ABBA trivia questions – we won two out of three.

We hogged the matchbox-sized dance floor all evening and left well after Gimme Gimme Gimme A Man After Midnight blistered off the turntable.

Gary’s ABBA float at Mardi Gras, Sydney

I remember when …

we’d sit around watching ABBA TV specials, such as ABBA’s All Time Greatest Hits. I’d invited several guests to watch it being aired for the first time tonight. There was a high degree of trepidation as we were dreading the thought of truncated song clips and no-name celebrities rabbiting on about how they’d bought ABBA Gold.

I invited ABBA fan James, who celebrates his “big birthdays” when he reaches 33⅓, 45½  and 78, so he can send invites stamped on old records, tap dancing/Madonna obsessive Nick, anarchist party host Nathanwi, socialiser Irene and avid party goer Kate – they’d all turned up straight from afternoon barbecues.

I felt like a complete git cos I was the only one dressed in a Swedish peasant outfit (inspired by my recent appreciation for Carl Larsson’s art), despite Nathanwi promising he’d come in costume. He has a Dress Up Room at home where, if you aren’t dressed up enough at his parties, he takes you into the room for a “makeover”.

I asked Nick if he’d brought the Madonna Gimme Gimme vid, but he’s a mathematician and accidentally taped over it when Kate Bush had come on singing something about Pi.

ABBA float

The TV show’s gimmicky premise was that it had new computer software that could analyse songs and “mathematically prove” which one best fitted a “hit song criterion”. We asked the maths expert Nick, who said this idea was ridiculous. He researches something related to Sudoku puzzles. He said universities often get requests for “a mathematical formula for writing a hit movie” and “other such rubbish”.

I was taping the show because I missed half of it due to chit chat and having to point out who was Frida and Agnetha now (most being confused by Frida having white hair) and answering questions (“Which one’s the recluse?”, “Did they record any solo stuff in Swedish?”) and “cooking” cheese on toast for Irene, who got hungry after the takeaway shops had closed. Nick impressed us, as a non-fan, by knowing the factoid that Super Trouper isn’t on the Australian release of ABBA Gold.

After watching celebs interrupt great ABBA clips with their worthless opinions, and being begged to hit the “Mute” button when Donny Osmond was crowbarred in on some imaginatively spurious premise, we were thrilled with the footage of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell jiving to Dancing Queen. There were a couple of new snippets from Benny and Bjorn.

Finally Mamma Mia was declared the most mathematically perfect song. Then James insisted I play the Sydney ABBA fans convention DVD so the newbies could appreciate the energetic choreography of Tiger, That’s Me and Frida’s frenetic dancing in If It Wasn’t For The Nights.

Conversation turned to Agnetha’s stalker, so I put on the Behind the Blonde vid. The newbies showed empathy for Agnet’s startling love-life choices.

Later on, there was a moment where I was explaining how I’d refused to lend any vintage ABBA T-shirts to friends going to ’70s parties because “they’re too precious”. Irene said: “You’re just like one of those sad obsessed Elvis fans we saw in that film at the Annandale Hotel.”

The evening ended with us deciding to go and see an ABBA tribute band.

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