- Alternate meaning: The Love Parade, a 1929 film.
Many people from Germany, Poland, and other countries travel to Berlin to take part in the Parade – over a million attended in the years 1997 through 2000 and 800,000 in 2001. Attendance at the 2001 festival was significantly lower because the date of the parade was changed with little advance notice. 2002 and 2003 also saw lower figures, and in 2004 and 2005 the parade was canceled due to funding difficulties.
The Love Parade has roots back to 1989 in the spirit of a changing Europe. It was first celebrated 4 months before the demolition of the Berlin Wall. It was started by the fresh Berlin Underground under the initiative of Matthias Roeingh aka "Dr. Motte". It was held as a political demonstration for peace and international understanding through music, even though it's true intention was probably just to have a party.
Until 1996, the parade was held on the famous Berlin "Ku'damm". Since by then not only the Ku'damm was overcrowded but the streets and even railway tracks near the Ku'damm, too, the parade moved to the "Straße des 17. Juni" which is near the Tiergarten Park in the center of Berlin by the Brandenburg Gate and provided plenty of space. The center of the parade is the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in the middle of the park, and the golden angel atop the column has become a symbol of the parade.
Techno means in this case mainly (Progressive) House, Techno, and Schranz music. Attempts to introduce other music styles, such as hip hop, have failed. Hardcore and Gabber music were part of the parade in early years, but were later removed. They are now celebrated separately on a counter-demonstration called "Fuck Parade".
Anyone who wants to experience Love Parade at the middle weekend of July should be aware of the fact that it is louder and more crowded than most concerts. With its water-cooled sound systems on every truck the parade produces a sound floor of many megawatts. The parade basically lives through those trucks. The trucks usually feature local or important clubs and their DJs. It has become a rule that only trucks are allowed which have sponsors from a techno related field such as clubs, labels or stores. It costs a lot of money to equip a truck. They are usually open on top and feature dancers. Their box-systems are mounted on the side or the rear. There are two tactics to choose from: Follow a truck that features a style that you like or have them all pass you so you can see more.
Love parade is a place to exhibit and enjoy other people's exhibitionist tendencies. Some people enjoy carrying around back-in-the-days toys such as pacifiers or facing masks. But usually the crowd is quite imaginative in terms of clothing (or the lack thereof) and appearance.
One famous picture from the Love Parade is people sitting and dancing on street lanterns, trees, commercial signs, telephone booths and other, which gave the nickname "the greatest amateur circus on earth" to this event. Although it is not allowed, there is probably no better way to see and be seen. However some people used this for special jokes as hanging up things like bycycle locks on trees and poles, but such actions were very rarely. The police of Berlin are usually quite tolerant when it comes to people being just themselves. There haven't been any major incidents in over twelve years of parade history – except the high drug use and people passing out due to dehydration or overheating, the number of injuries as well as the number of crimes is extraordinarily low.
The final of the demonstration is every year the so called "Abschlusskundgebung" which are half-hour sets of the world's leading top DJs such as DJ Rush, DJ Hell, Westbam, Miss Djax, or Chris Liebing. During this time all trucks (usually about 40) are connected to each other and set online to the statue of victory where the Turntables are. This is one of the few chances a DJ can ever have to play for a crowd of about one million people.
With the end of the parade the fun is far from over. Love Parade weekend in Berlin is probably the only time and place worldwide where a whole city is practically turned into a club. Many DJs are booked for one of the huge number of parties that are held before and after the parade. Parties range from clubs with some hundred, mostly exclusive guests to almost raves with several floors and some ten thousand folks. Many people today come to Berlin only for the parties and miss the parade for sleeping reason. Or they enjoy it with other "ravers" in the park right next to the parade route.
There are similar festivals in other cities like Zürich's Street Parade and Love Parades in Newcastle and Vienna. In the fall of 2004, the Love Parade was held in San Francisco, marking its first expansion into North America.
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The Love Parade is a very special case. By German law the state has to pay for security during political demonstrations as well as cleaning up the streets after the demonstration. In case of a commercial event however, the organizer has to pay for all this. For a large event like the Love Parade the costs are quite high: an estimated 300 000 to 400 000 Euro.
The Love Parade was initially held as a "political demonstration" to save costs; however it is organized by two companies set up just for the Love Parade. The name of the demonstration, Love Parade, is a registered trademark and the organizing companies have been busy getting license fees for the use of their name. This not only included merchandise and CDs but also fees for participating clubs, vendors of soft drinks and the like along the streets and even broadcasting fees for the TV stations MTV and Germany's counterpart, VIVA.
Due to this there have been arguments between the organizers and the city of Berlin every year about the status of the Love Parade (and who pays for it). Finally in 2001, the courts ruled that the Love Parade had to be held as commercial event. In 2004, the organizers claimed they do not have the necessary funds anymore to host it again. Since there are numerous other Love Parade-like but commercial events in Germany there are speculations that the funding is not or at least only one reason for the cancellation, the other being the fast dropping number of participants.
List of Love Parades in Berlin
|1989||Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen||150|
|1990||The Future Is Ours||2,000|
|1991||My House Is Your House And Your House Is Mine||6,000|
|1992||The Spirit Makes You Move||15,000|
|1993||The Worldwide Party People Weekend||31,000|
|1994||Love 2 Love||110,000|
|1995||Peace on Earth||280,000|
|1996||We Are One Family||750,000|
|1997||Let the Sun Shine In Your Heart||1,000,000|
|1998||One World One Future||800,000|
|1999||Music Is The Key||1,500,000|
|2000||One World One Loveparade||1,300,000|
|2001||Join the Love Republic||800,000|
Note: The "Participants" figure is the estimate given by the organizers. Police estimates have usually been as much as 30% lower. Accurate counts are not available since entry is free and uncontrolled.
Future of Love Parade
The future of Love Parade in Berlin is quite uncertain. After losing two main sponsors, the organizers announced in April 2005 that Love Parade 2005 has to be canceled because time is too short to find new funding. Since this is the second cancellation in a row and since financing will probably stay a problem only time can tell when, if ever, there will be the next Love Parade.
- Official Site (in German)