july 2002 love parade, berlin

the love parade is a huge weekend-long techno party, including not only the parade itself—a number of boom-boom dance trucks driving back and forth along the horizontal length of tiergarten—but also a number of affiliated parties at various clubs and locations. the centre is the gold-else, the angel of gold in the center of tiergarten, at der grosser stern, a large roundabout with many roads radiating out, thus "the large star". in the past, attendance has hit 1.5 million, but more recently it has only been a million or so, i am told. i don't yet know what the attendance was today.

i approached from friedrichstraβe s-bahn stop, which was probably not a great choice, but allowed me to come past the bundestag and snap a picture from there. as i came past, the trees came into view, and already the sound of drumbeats was loud enough that had i been a european explorer in the african jungle a century or two ago, the hairs would have risen on the back of my neck and i would have fled instantly.

from here on it only got louder, and more and more crowded. i started nearly at the brandenburger tor, the gate at the east end of tiergarten and walked west towards gold-else. the first thing i came across was a slow but endless procession of buses. the last one was actually taken on my way out of the park but i included it here to show how commercial this whole thing was. there were logos everywhere. like many things, the parade probably started as a celebration of love, and was organized either by a few people at the city, or by some individuals, and from there it got more and more popular until now, when in the commercial '90s and 2000s we have logos everywhere, paying for things, and completely changing the feeling of it.
i was surprised to see how few people were dancing but perhaps it was a bit early. there was lots to see for people-lovers though, and lots to complain about for people-haters. there were lots and lots of drunks and broken bottles *everywhere*, every step of the way, which is over a kilometre probably. there were also lots of plastic bottles, which were probably made exactly for occasions like this and were likely the bottles sold at all the little commercial tents along the way, at outrageous prices, most likely. the drunks were largely extremely well-behaven though. i didn't see a single violent incident. there was a fair amount of posturing, and a lot of beefcakes with no shirts on, but it was all reasonable. i did meet several fun and friendly people, chief of which were the nice couple sitting down. unfortunately the picture is a bit shaken, but you can clearly see the amount of effort the girl put into her look. i loved her hair, these little silver spikes. there was fuzz everywhere, and fuzz too. the cops were very quiet though, and i only once saw a group walking towards some unknown incident with purposeful strides. the cops here are remarkably low-key. they don't seem popular, but i haven't really figured out why yet. but everyone (okay, not everyone) was wearing fuzzy clothes. this shot was really tame compared to some, but i am not so comfortable snapping people-shots yet, so i didn't often grab pictures where i wanted to. there was also lots of flesh, like the two girls. they were quite, err, stunning from in front, but again, i was too shy to just approach. the tops of the lightpoles were removed near the gold-else, but further away there were people on them all the way, hopping and dancing and swaying. there were also a few people who already around 6 o'clock were completely out. this guy here was a basketcase. he looked like he was just about to get up, one arm pushing against the ground, the other grabbing a handful of dirt, but he was quite gone and didn't move. his friends were guarding. i imagine he just keeled straight over onto his face to get into a position like that. i saw one other guy who was not yet out, but his eyes were so gone, and he was swaying like mad, so it was only a question of time. he was barely coherent, and there was only emptiness in his eyes and a stupid grin on his face.
the gold-else is the epicentre (i have been saying that way too much lately) of the party, and it was standing-room only, almost. this roundabout is very large, with huge sidewalks, wide bike paths, and four or five lanes of cars, sandwiched between park stone walls and the massive pillar in the middle, yet it was wall-to-wall people, packed all the way. most were not dancing, but later on as i picked up a magazine at the cornerstore (motorräder aus italien, ie. motorcycles from italy), i saw the gold-else on a tv, and the whole place was even more packed, swaying and dancing and the really popular and famous dj's were beginning to play to fireworks and cheering crowds.
i was warned by two friends that the whole thing was just drunk and idiotic teenagers and broken bottles everywhere. this was true, but there was also another side to it. i am glad i went, but like so many others, i am not sure i would go back. some things only need experiencing once. i think i would prefer a good club by far. better atmosphere, more focused crowd, less idiocy. still, it was neat.