The expression “overwhelming impression” applies easily to a mass gathering such as the Berlin Love Parade. At the 2003 Special Edition there was a feeling of togetherness entirely at odds with images that have dominated tv screens for the early part of this year.
Even the men uniforms with guns seemed to be our brothers with arms. It helped that some of the soldiers were dancing on their trucks and getting their pictures taken with ravers in fluffy boots.
“Love Rules” was the theme. This could sound glib but not when accompanied by the sight of half a million people grooving as the sun went down on Samstag Juli 12.
Space Ibiza was out in front from the off. Our vehicle (shared happily with Radio One) had the honour of leading the cavalcade, and Space resident and local hero Tom Novy the responsibility of firing off the first salvo of beats.
After the first staccato burst the crowd roared, like only a body of several hundred thousand people can. We should be congratulated for making a good first impression, if we do say so ourselves. Our truck was the float of the fit. As we trundled up the Tiergarten the assembled ravers greedily munched up the eye-candy on display. Ogling and being ogled never seemed so natural. Exposed buttocks were particularly fashionable, though just the one (two would be gauche).
Radio One had sent some cute journalists and Fergie, though the babe average was lowered rather by the slightly weary looking (Judge) Julius O’Riordan and Pete Tong
. However they are both fathers and have given many years of service to dance music, so can be forgiven a few stress wrinkles.
Our look may have been striking, but we were also loud. While on top of the truck industry figures and other professional liggers availed themselves of the bounteous booze, the entire lower section was a rank of booming speakers that old school rockers the Who would have coveted.
Under the dj booth the full complement of technical staff required for an important undertaking such as this were working hard. The banks of flashing lights, knobs and faders looked technical enough to fly a shuttle. Actually maybe that’s not such a good comparison, especially as apart from maybe one brief patch of silence the whole kit got along the Tiergarten and back again without burning up on re-entry. We offer our sincere congratulations for such success under testing conditions.
The sun was fitfully scorching, though those feeling the heat were soothed by large cans of shandy thoughtfully provided by Warsteiner. Vodka in blue bottles and Red Bull were also dispensed with gay abandon. As noted by the handy guide provided in the souvenir edition of local mag Raveline, alcohol was unarguably the most popular substance on the menu.
Lubricated and horny with the heat, girls and guys writhed for the benefit of the cameras and the crowd. The Space-Ibiza.com team managed to score one dinner invitation and participated in a lot of frottage. However it was the Love Parade and not the Lech Parade, the one bloke on our float who crossed the boundary was swiftly ejected. In doing so the Space security team displayed a convincing range of neck holds, though it should also be noted the fool in question was spotted alive and well not long after the incident.
It was all remarkably good fun, especially given the potential for carnage. Over the course of the day we saw four people taking a stretcher ride followed by friends at various levels of hysteria.
Media reports stated that while thirty odd people were admitted to hospital, the most serious injuries were sustained by two of the less nimble who fell from lamp posts. Shinnying up a pole is a traditional past time, and the most immediate method to geting what must be an intense contact buzz.
The spirit was somehow lifted by a short rain shower, though this had the unfortunate by-product of making the crowd smell like wet dogs. We were safe from the precipitation underneath a tarpaulin, indeed some thought had gone into catering for all needs and eventualities.
The float even admitted a few refugees late in the day. Tour party leader VooDoo inquired of one rather swarthy inebriated gentlemen “Where is your pass?”
His only reply was “Ich komme aus Uzbekistan!” which, while obviously the wrong answer, was rather endearing all the same. By this stage though the float’s alcohol supplies had been utterly ravaged. We know because we were there when the last bottle of vodka was found and consumed, the only mixer available being a modicum of the aforementioned diluted beer.
It was hard not to feel a little hollow when the wheels eventually stopped turning and we were ushered off. It could be for the last time - the cost of the clean up and the difficulty in finding sponsors are both factors which might prevent the Love Parade from taking place in 2004. Which would be a pity, for many reasons not least humanitarian ones. Part of the proceeds from Love Parade souvenirs will help fund the construction of two rehabilitation centers in Iraq for civilians hurt by mines and in recent fighting.
[center]Many thanks to all those who helped to make this a memorable occasion.
A brief stroll in the Tiergarten
@ Hotel Berlin
A spooky co-incidence?
For southern hemisphere fairies
Radio One cutie
This girl was on the front page of the Berliner Morgenpost the next day