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Go BackPOPPIN’ THAT LOVE PARADE CHERRY ‘04 - The music prevailed yet again in San Francisco to bring everyone together for a day of celebration of music, culture, diversity, and life.

Posted: 14/10/04 13:09

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Do you remember the first party you have ever been to?  The first time you have   experienced the power of a massive sound system?  Think back and recall the few hours before the actual night.  The excitement and nervousness as it made its way throughout your entire body.  The anxious preparation for what you thought was going to be the best night of your life. 

After a 36 hour drive from Chicago through the never ending Iowa and Nebraska flats, the gently rising Wyoming foothills, the majestic peaks of Utah, and the punishing Nevada desert.  Not to mention the breath taking Yosemite National Park.  We arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday night three days before the “big show”.  Naturally the need to find the bar and wet our whistles overshadowed any kind of reasonable thinking so of we went for a two day journey of bar hopping, club crashing, and general mayhem in California’s most liberal city.  You’ll be happy to know we got it all on film so look for the “Drunken Nerve Love Parade DVD” out soon.  We were shocked to find out that most people in San Francisco had no idea that the famous Love Parade was taking place that weekend.  Nevertheless there was an incredible buzz about the event among the San Francisco industry crowd.  The topics of conversation ranged from Love Parade to Milan beating Glasgow 3-1 and back to Love Parade (cheers lads you were robbed I say).  You could feel the excitement in the air.  Some of San Francisco’s leading production crews have made an enormous effort to support the parade and organize events through the weekend in the Bay Area.  Spundae and Opel led the efforts on their home turf with some massive parties featuring Marco V, Sandra Collins, Hybrid, and D:Fuse along many others.  As the day of the parade approached, the city transformed itself from a scenic haven for poets and painters into a palette of party hungry children of the beat. 

We woke up on Saturday morning at 6:30am to an absolutely perfect day for an outdoor celebration of dance, music, love, and cultural diversity.   Fighting a wicked bender from last night became a second hand issue for one simple reason.  This is the day we all have been waiting for: The first Love Parade in the United States of America.  Concept so daring and free almost seems cynical in a country that is governed by more laws than any other land in the world.  Most likely this could be one of the most intriguing spectacles of our lives.  After a quick packing job we loaded all the artillery on to our “float” and headed down the steep hills of San Francisco to the parade site.  The city seemed strangely deserted and unusually quiet for 11 in the morning.  The parade was set to begin at the corner of Market and Beale streets with the first float leaving at 2 o’clock towards the scenic waterfront Embarcadero where it would drift towards the home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team and finally settle for a day long celebration near one of the SBC Park’s parking lots.  The tension was rising as we approached the line-up area.  I could faintly pick up a lonely bass drum coming from around the corner.  As we made our final turn our eyes rested on what would end up a validation of life on the North American continent.  A street more colorful than Holland’s tulip festival, filled with floats and trucks and mutant vehicles all blasting their favorite grooves over massive sound systems.  Swarms of gyrating bodies were seen at nearly every float.  We settled into our waiting spot and completed final preparations before launching our sound.  Through the crowds we could distinctly see the Love Parade personnel frantically trying to keep control over the ever growing crowd, with their bright yellow t-shirts cutting through the masses with commands from Peter Fraser and Jennifer Manger blasting in their ear pieces.    
It almost seemed like they were always on the verge of going mad and yet they held such incredible control over the entire process.  Around 2 o’clock the moment finally came and the first float turned up their sound system to a respectable level and slowly made its way through a sea of cheering party goers.   All together there were 30 crews out of 200+ that actually applied for a float entry.  Musical tastes ranged from deep and groovy house, to West Coast’s rigid drum ‘n’ bass, to heart pounding techno, and sexy progressive which has a solid backbone in the Bay Area nightlife.  As we made our way down the scenic Embarcadero waterfront, we were accompanied by a mob of bass craving bodies.  San Francisco’s and America’s wild side has definitely showed its face with at least one third of the parades participants being dressed in their favorite costumes.  The themes ranged from bunnies to dominatrix and everything in between.  And of course it wouldn’t be a party without a bunch of naked guys.
After a 2 hour cruise down the waterfront, we arrived at the festival location.  The organizers have really done a fantastic job organizing the entire event with private security, on-duty police officers present, portable bathroom facilities, and most importantly a separate lounge with a bar for the privileged individuals that helped make the “Love” happen in San Francisco.  We parked our monster of a float in the proper spot and stacked all the speakers for an all around sensory overload.  We have had the pleasure of hosting Yoshitoshi’s Recording artists Chris & Kai.  We sat down with Kai over a few shots of Jager and tequila after his late afternoon set to chat about the parade and his reactions.  “I view this effort to bring everyone together as a complete success.  The vibe is absolutely amazing and as a dj I fed of that vibe so much.”  I asked Kai if he thinks the organizers should do it again the following year.  In response he smiled and said “…I predict this is just the beginning and I am thrilled to be here…” 

As the evening approached the temperature dropped dramatically, diving from a very comfortable 24 degrees Celsius to an evening low of 13 degrees.  Needless to say the crowds have dropped in attendance a bit by the end of the festival.  We have gotten different reports on how many people came out for the inaugural United States Love Parade, some say 50K some say 150K.  An average of the two numbers would probably reflect close to how many people were grooving with us that day.  All in all, a success for all involved with no major disasters occurring.  I was lucky enough to speak with the founder and the main visionary of the Love Parade concept Dr. Motte.  After a quick introduction I asked him what his impressions are of the way the organizers and the different dj collectives and all the companies involved came together to make this a legendary event on yet another continent.  “USA is a land where electronic music thrives and fuels the underground.  It was a natural development for the Love Parade to make its debut here as well.  This event was a success because of all the companies involved.  They are the ones that keep this movement alive.  Without them there would be no Love Parade, no Mayday, and there would be no electronic music.” 

An unbelievable end to a day that will be embedded in everyone’s minds for some time I’m sure.  Finally, the U.S. has popped its cherry with a proper electronic dance music festival.  It was an incredible accomplishment for everyone involved and a bright future for the Love Parade in the United States of America.  The music prevailed yet again and managed to bring everyone together for a day of celebration of music, culture, diversity, and life. 
Special thanks to Joshua Smith, Peter Fraser, Jennifer Manger, and the entire Love Parade as well as Rez, Mili Sefic, Chris & Kai, Nosmo from Grayarea, Avex Axiom and all at Nerve Entertainment.  And of course Dr. Motte…..
see you in San Francisco next year


Words by Sebastian Senn