The Eurovision Song Contest held at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin 50 years ago today was the moment Catholic Ireland switched from black and white to colour.
Girls in hot pants were photographed walking down Grafton Street and disporting themselves in the River Club on Bachelors Walk; a riotous after-party went on until 4am in Dublin Castle; and the Cork-born drag queen Danny La Rue held court in the Shelbourne Hotel.
In sharp contrast, the segment between the performances and the voting - the interval that would make Riverdance an international phenomenon two decades later - showed "official Ireland" as a stylised country of comely maidens playing their harps in Bunratty Castle, "real men" on horses out hunting and weather-beaten peasants taking snuff.
The UK's entrant, Clodagh Rodgers, from Warrenpoint in Co Down, was carefully selected with political sensibilities in mind and seemed to straddle the two traditions.
She embodied the new and the old, wearing a pink frilly top with hot pants underneath, telling journalists: "Here I am, a good little Catholic girl representing the United Kingdom in Dublin."
This bizarre competition - the 16th Eurovision - captured the national imagination, because suddenly all these foreigners were milling around Dublin, looking at a country that had changed little in decades. Tony Lyons, RTE's director of publicity, told reporters that many of the foreign journalists and delegates thronging the city "didn't seem aware of our location before getting here", a situation that would change dramatically in the years that followed.
"It was the beano to end all beanos," says songwriter and performer Phil Coulter, from Derry. "I was there because myself and Bill Martin were publishers of Dana's song, All Kinds of Everything, the 1970 winner."
Coulter's Puppet on a String won Eurovision for Britain in 1967 and he followed it with Congratulations (1968), with Cliff Richard taking second place.
"The Eurovision was the biggest event of the year in international music publishing. Now, you wonder if the songwriter is even as important as the hairdresser, or the production director," he laughs.
Monaghan-born Bernadette Ni Ghallchoir, the 23-year-old wife of Irish diplomat Sean O hUiginn, who was based in Berne, Switzerland, was selected to present the event.
While the girls in hot pants got the attention of writers such as Maeve Binchy, Ni Ghallchoir was swathed from chin to toe in a lime-green chiffon dress, designed by the Danish designer Ib Jorgensen.
Apart from her looks and language skills, she had previously been a presenter of the Irish language learning programme Buntus Cainte.
The visiting media and delegates from 18 countries found Dublin relaxed and informal. But the build-up to the night of April 3 did not lack for drama.
Kidnap threats - said to have originated with the IRA - were made against Clodagh Rodgers and there was a much-denied story of a shady Spaniard trying to bribe the British jury.
RTE's running of the show took on a Irish national significance. If it wasn't done right, Ireland faced international disgrace, a prospect that excited a motley crew of protesters, including Sinn Fein, Conradh na Gaeilge and the Irish Women's Liberation Movement.
The theme of their demonstration was "Ireland has nothing to sing about". Some staff in RTE, concerned that the £65,000 budget might affect their redundancy packages, joined the protest.
After a warm-up by floor manager Tadhg de Brun, the curtain lifted on designer Alpho O'Reilly's set of swirling fibreglass Gaelic motifs.
The show began with Colman Pearce conducting the RTE orchestra. Terry Wogan was commentating for BBC Television for the first time, while Noel Andrews - normally a boxing commentator - did the honours for RTE.
Ireland was represented by Angela Farrell, also born in the north, singing One Day Love. The show was directed by Adrian Cronin and Gay Byrne helped to tot up and announce the scores, although he didn't appear on screen.
Bizarrely, the juries didn't have to use all their points, so some gave out fewer than others, something later described as "a glaring anomaly".
But nobody doubted that the winning entry, Un Banc, Un Arbre, Une Rue (A Bench, a Tree, a Street) by French singer Severine, performing for Monaco, was by far the best song in the contest.
Well, almost nobody. Of the members of an unofficial jury put together by the Sunday Independent on the night, only one picked the winner: Fr Michael Cleary. The show ended at 11.45pm; the credits rolling to the tune of Danny Boy.
"Afterwards, there was relief we didn't let the country down," Bernadette Ni Ghallchoir said in a TV documentary entitled Good Evening Europe Agus Anois... an Eurovision! (Good Evening Europe And Now... Eurovision!)
Despite the promise of film roles, the hostess of Ireland's first Eurovision gently faded into the background.
She distinguished herself as a sculptor, while her husband went on to become Irish ambassador to Italy and the United States, before taking up a dangerous job with the British-Irish secretariat in Belfast from 1987 to 1991.