Love Parade - Berlin
Love Parade - Berlin
Words by Ariel Meadow Stallings
Love Parade is the largest techno gathering in the world. The tradition started 10 years ago with a few hundred ravers and has grown to a million and a half people. That's right: 1.5 million people. Held in downtown Berlin, the parade features dozens of floats, each with its own soundsystem. The floats go up and down a long street (Unter Den Linden), going through Brandenburger Tor, a gate that used to divide East and West Berlin. Love Parade is a massive celebration of techno, the re-unification of Berlin, and all things wacky, tacky, and wild. Wish you could be there? Well, close your eyes and come with me.
Imagine catching a train at 6 am on a Saturday. It's filled with ravers and as it snakes towards Berlin, each station becomes more densely packed with kids sporting "Run Lola Run" hair and Buffalo boots. Imagine arriving in Berlin to find the station screaming with the sound of hundreds of whistles, which were being sold by vendors outside. Unlike American whistlers who go for rhythm (tweet-tweet, tweet-tweet-tweet!), German whistlers go for a long maintained shrill (tweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!).
Now, imagine being stuck in a huge line outside a party. You can hear the music in the distance and everyone is excited, so you know you're somewhere good, but you can't see past the armpits of the person in front of you. Now, imagine that the line you're stuck in is 1.5 million people long, and that you're in that line for NINE HOURS. Imagine that it's hot and sunny. Now imagine that everyone in that line knows a secret... like a secret language perhaps, like German. Imagine the sound thousands of whistles going on and on, screaming in a never-ending tweet. Imagine dogs' heads exploding all over Berlin from that sound.
As for the floats, imagine 40 huge trucks with soundsystems on them, each one decked out to suit the sponsor. People told me it would be commercial, but this was over the top! The Camel float featured men dancing in red G-strings and women dancing in red hotpants. The Fanta float featured men dancing in orange hot pants and women dancing in orange G-strings. Imagine the music pumped from the floats being decent, but imagine the records perpetually skipping as dancers in G-strings and hotpants bump the DJ.
Imagine that every time a float gets within thumping distance (as in, you can feel that hard German techno thump somewhere between your chest and your groin) people throwing their hand in the air, shrilling their whistles, and dancing like concrete has been bad and needs to be punished.
Imagine six miles of ravers, clubbers, acid casualties, and boring people dressed up as freaks-for-a-day. Imagine all these people brought together to enjoy the music they love. Imagine the energy. Imagine the smell of urine in the Tier Garten, the park that surrounds Unter Den Linden.
Imagine the TWO THOUSAND METRIC TONS of garbage the ravers dropped on the street. Imagine that it is just windy enough to blow the garbage all over and fuel a massive trash fire. Imagine 1500 DJs. Imagine the day that beat-freaks take over the streets and eat every pill in a three-country radius. Imagine that the Mayor says it'll happen again next year, despite the fact that many Berliners intentionally go on vacation to avoid the chaos every July.
Imagine the train ride home. Thanks to shedding feather boas on the shoulders of thousands of disco queens, every train station looks like flocks of small, brightly colored birds have been slaughtered there. Imagine whistles still blowing the next morning at stations eight hours out of Berlin.
A million and half techno fans brought together for a day is something you just don't see in America. If you look up "awe-striking" in the dictionary, you should see a picture of Love Parade. It's something every American dancer should experience just to see and feel that many people brought together for one party. The experience made me appreciate the small, relatively underground scene in America. Sure, we have big parties of 25,000 people in California and Florida. But if you imagine 60 of those parties happening all at once in one place, you will understand why, although I'm glad I went, I will never go to Love Parade again.