Love Parade (2)
The highlight is the Parade itself, which kicks off at 2pm on Saturday. It lasts throughout the evening as the procession of floats, bands, mobile sound systems, dancers, skinheads, ravers and DJ trucks, blasting out their techno beats, move along the Strasse des 17 Juni, which roughly bisects the massive Tiergarten park, slowly making a circuit between the Siegessaule, at the centre of the huge Großer Stern roundabout in the heart of the park, and the Brandenburg Gate at its eastern end. The trucks are sponsored by clubs from Berlin and other major German cities, plus an increasing number of European mega-clubs, and each one carries three or four top-name DJs, cranking out big beats, drum ‘n’ bass, house and techno. The route is so packed with partygoers – a million-plus people getting their rocks off at the same time and in the same place means things can get pretty congested – that the trucks can only go a few miles per hour and are often forced to stop for minutes at a time. At midnight, the trucks leave the Siegessaule and set up shop in (and in front of) the dozens of clubs around the city.
After the Parade
There’s a limit to the tolerance of the non-raving locals of Berlin, and, come midnight, virtually all of the park’s sound systerns are forced to shut down. Then follows a mass exodus to squeeze into the city’s twenty-odd dance clubs that keep the beats pumping all night. If you’re really smart, you’ll have reserved tickets in advance and can avoid the half-mile queues. The obvious recommendation to go wherever Paul van Dyk is playing – well worth seeing on home turf – or Sven
Vath, if you’re into the harder stuff. If you don’t make it inside a club, don’t despair some clubs park their parade floats outside and carry on right there. Even at six in the morning, so long as it’s not raining, you’re likely to have just as many people dancing outside a club as in it.
Christopher Street Day
Although very much a gay-friendly party, the Love Parade isn’t by any means a gay festival. It does usually, however, take place the beginning of Berlin’s Gay Pride week, which culminates in Christopher Street Day (CSD) on the Saturday after the Love Parade. The parade takes its name from New York’s Christopher Street where, in June 1969, police raids on the Stonewall bar led to anti-gay riots. Similar celebrations of gay pride are held all over the world – Berlin’s version started as a small affair in 1979, but after the fall of the Wall has grown steadily into today’s street parade-cum-camival. Its promenade of trucks transports elegant drag queens and fetishistic queers along the Ku’damm through Schoenberg and Kreutzberg and back past Potsdammer Platz, before heading through the Brandenburg gate and finishing up at the Siegessaule. Unlike the Love Parade, CSD still maintains , status as a demonstration, so the sponsorship and corporate backing that frustrates many Love Parade regulars isn’t an issue. The music is diverse, and usually provides something for all tastes; in fact, many of the Berliners who choose to leave town over Love Parade weekend head back for the CSD parade. For more information, see www.csd-berlin.de.