Das Neue Woodstock: The Love Parade in Berlin, Germany.

The Country of Germany

Figure 1: Map of Germany. (htt://geography.about.com/library/cia/blcgermany.html)

 

Abstract

The Love Parade is an annual celebration held during the summer in Berlin, Germany. Large crowds of people gather to dance in the streets while following DJ's playing techno music from decorated floats. The politically historic city of Berlin is an appropriate location for a cultural celebration that promotes unity. The elements of celebration practiced during the Love Parade express those of rave culture. The diversity of the crowd, style of music and dance, drug use, and the creation of a unified public gathering are all valued by ravers and are the components that form the Love Parade celebration.

Top

 

Figure 2: Crowds from all over the world gather to celebrate in Berlin. (www.loveparade.net)
Figure 3: Examples of the festive costumes. (www.loveparade.net)

Introduction

The annual Love Parade in Berlin, Germany is a celebration that uses music to promote worldwide unity. People from all over the world gather to endorse the use of techno music as a modern political statement of world peace (www.loveparade.net). The Love parade is an expression of the core value of global unity which has emerged from rave culture. I will show how this value is expressed through techno music, dance, drug use, gathering of large crowds, and communitas. All of these are global elements because they are not limited to certain parts of the world and are known across the globe.

Top

Context of Germany

The country of Germany is located in the middle of Europe, sharing borders with several other European nations as well as the coasts of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Germany has several mountain ranges, most notably the Bavarian Alps, located in the southern region of the country (www.destatis.de). The German climate is moderate and varies from city to city and the average temperature is around 9°C (www.destatis.de).

  Germany has experienced a complex political history since the middle of the twentieth century. The current federal government employs both democratic and socialist practices (www.destatis.de). The earliest form of German democracy began when Adolf Hitler's dictatorship ended after World War II in 1949. These events lead to the first Federal Republic of Germany (http://worldfacts.us/Germany.htm). The current Federal Republic of Germany was not established until after the “unification of West Germany and East Germany ” (http://worldfacts.us/Germany.htm) in October of 1990.

  The Love Parade takes place in Berlin, the capital city of Germany. Berlin is located in the state of Brandenburg in the northeastern corner of Germany, bordering the county of Poland (see Figure 1). The city of Berlin exemplifies German history because it was the site of the wall that separated West Germany and East Germany from 1961 until it was torn down on November 9, 1989 (Héon-Klin et al, 2001). Berlin makes an appropriate location for demonstrations of unity because of the distinct divide that literally separated the streets for nearly 30 years.

Top

Origins of The Love Parade

In the summer of 1988, shortly before the Berlin wall came down, a techno music disc jockey named “ Dr. Motte” gathered with 150 of his friends at Kurfürstendamm; a popular shopping district in West Berlin. They played loud techno music and danced in the streets. His idea was to gather people together to share the idea of unity through the sound of techno music. Each year more young people gathered in the streets of Berlin to celebrate techno music until 1995 when the Love Parade was forced to relocate to a larger street named Strasse des 17 Juni because of the overwhelming numbers of participants (Whybrow, 2003). In recent years, the crowd number has totaled over one million people (Borneman et al, 2000). The relocation of the parade is only one example of the many new traditions that emerge each year.

Top

Performance

The Love Parade annually occurs the second weekend in July. The parade begins at 2PM from two distinct and opposite ends of Strasse des 17 Juni. One crowd of people gather at Ernst Reuter Platz and the other begins at Bradenburger Tor and head towards each other until they meet at the Prussian Victory Column at Grosser Stern (Whybrow, 2003). Many clubs and popular businesses decorate floats and hire DJ's to spin and play techno music while the float travels in the procession of the parade (Whybrow, 2003). The number of DJ's on floats has grown drastically to over 250 in the past few years (www.loveparade.net).

  Most participants dress themselves in vibrant and provocative costumes. It's very common to see people dressed as if they were going to a club at night; wearing sparkly clothing and lots of glittery makeup and jewelry (see Figure 3). Often these outfits are too provocative and promiscuous to be worn in the daytime and are criticized for their “sheer state of undress” (Whybrow, 2003). Participants gather around each float and dance to the music while following the procession until they reach the Grosser Stern. Here the DJ's arrange the floats into a semicircle around the popular Prussian war memorial, the Prussian Victory Column, and continue to pump heavy bass techno music from their abnormally large and high-powered amplifiers (Borneman et al, 2000). The Prussian Victory Column is located in the middle of a large intersection where the entire city can be seen, allowing an incredible view overlooking the gathering masses during the Love Parade.

  Each Love Parade has a different motto. All of the mottos have to do with unity and peace. Participants from all over the world make banners and signs to carry through the streets as they dance and follow the floats (see Artifact).

Top

Artifact

Figure 4: Banners and Signs used to display the parade motto and themes. (www.loveparade.net)

Top

Interpretation

Top

Prognosis for The Love Parade

In 1988, the Love Parade began in the western corner of Berlin with one DJ and 150 of his peers. Only 15 years later, in 2003, 250 DJ's gathered with over 1.5 million friends and mostly strangers (Whybrow 2003). The number of participants has grown 10,000 times larger in 15 years. The increase in the number of participants has forced the annual celebration to move to another location that can accommodate crowds of this capacity. The popularity of this celebration continues to increase each year as more people come to dance in the streets together.

Top

Conclusion

The global elements of the Love Parade are used to express harmony. The idea of unity can be seen from the style of dance and music that the participants listen to and perform. The use of certain drugs, such as ecstasy, enhances social norms by inhibiting prejudices that normally exist between people. The large crowd at the Love Parade gathers to celebrate their diversity and to unite in peace. The Love Parade is an expression of rave culture which promotes this global unity and peace.

Top

Internet References Cited

    Federal Statistical Office Germany . www.destatis.de/basis/e/wahltxt.htm .   “Elections: Federal Republic of Germany ”. Accessed 21 September 2004 .

               The Federal Statistical Office Germany is a governmental website that                provides the history of the formation of the German government.

    Federal Statistical Office Germany . www.destatis.de/basis/e/geo/geotxt.htm.   “Geography and Climate”. Accessed 21 September 2004 .

               The Federal Statistical Office Germany is a governmental website that                provides the statistical and geographical information about Germany .

    LOVEPARADE.NET. www.loveparade.de/portal/loveparade/history/e_history_start.html   “History”. Accessed 16 September 2004 .

              Loveparade.net is a website supported by the commercial sponsors of                the German Love Parade and provides information about the Love               Parades in Germany and around the world.

    World Facts. http://worldfacts.us/Germany.htm. “Facts about Germany ” Accessed 21   September 2004 .

              This website compiles information from US Governmental   records                and provides data for every recognized country in the world.

Top

Peer-Reviewed References Cited

  • Aaronson, Beatrice

    1999      Dancing Our Way Out of Class through               Funk, Techno or   Rave. Peace Review                 11(2): 231-236.

  • Borneman John, Senders Stefan

              2000      Politics without a Head: Is the “Love Parade” a                            New Form of Political Identification?. Cultural                            Anthropology 15 (2): 294-317.

  • Héon-Klin, Véronique, Sieber, Erika, Huebner, Julia, Fullilove, Mindy Thompson

                         2001      The Influence of Geopolitical Change on the Well-                                         Being of a Population: The    Berlin Wall . American                                    Journal of Public Health 91 (3): 369-374.

  • Hutson, Scott R.

                        2000      The Rave: Sprititual Healing in Modern Western                                        Subcultures.   Anthropological Quarterly 73 (1): 35-49.

  •  Martin, Daniel

                        1999      Power Play and Party Politics: The Significance of Raving.                                   Journal of Popular Culture 32 (4): 77-99.

  • Whybrow, Nicholas

                        2003      Street Scene: Berlin 's Strasse des 17 Juni and the                                            Performance of (Dis)unity. New Theatre Quarterly 19                                        (4):299-317.

Top

Contact Jim Aimers | ©2004 Miami University