Germany’s Love Parade yesterday attracted 1.6 million visitors to the unlikely location of Dortmund. For New Zealand readers, I would compare this to having a Love Parade in Papakura. Dortmund is located in the industrial Ruhr area, apparently Europe’s fifth largest ‘urban area’ after Moscow, London, Paris and Madrid. Polish people abound in this coal-mining region, and after WWII the area became home to a large number of Turkish and Italian ‘guest workers’ as well.
The Italian ‘ndrangheta mafia clan have established something of a stronghold there, causing a stir last year with five sensational murders in Duisberg.
Maybe that’s part of why the region agreed to hold three successive Love Parades (last year’s was in Essen, which is also in the Ruhr area), despite the security and sanitation head-aches suffered in its long-time location of Berlin.
The mayor of Dortmund presented this new, upbeat face of Ruhr on TV in a ketchup red t-shirt with some crazy yellow graphic on it, while self-professed ‘stadium minimal’ jock Dubfire rocked the proletariats (‘prols’ as they call them in Deutschland). Then the camera turned to some good-natured grannies who were dancing around in plastic Hawaiian leis. They were probably the cutest thing about the footage. And by the way, ‘stadium minimal’ is probably not such a stretch from the persistent beat of schlager music (Germany’s ‘party pop’ for old people).
It’s hard to imagine now, but for the first couple of years (back in the early ’90s), the Love Parade really was a celebration for music lovers, queers and true freaks (not just office workers in body paint). Even my workmate Wulf confesses to having danced on a speaker stack there in purple leggings. That was just what you did. But things were different. Back then, Moby even had a few OK songs. I can vouch for it: I had one on a mix-cassette from a local radio show in New Zealand. (I didn’t wear leggings but I did copy some gothic purple eye-paint from a story on rave culture in i-D magazine. Hey, I was 13.).
My boss Torsten says the second Love Parade, the one when it rained, was the best. You can imagine the fun to be had, with a straggling crowd of anarchists on ecstasy.
The Love Parade today is far from anarchistic. But musically, it could be worse. Dubfire (once part of US deep house act Deep Dish) is still marginally better than, say Paul Oakenfold or Tiesto.
Needless to say, we didn’t visit the Love Parade, but we did accidentally end up on a train headed to the Love Parade (we were going to nearby Düsseldorf for Japanese groceries). Despite Deutschebahn supposedly adding 500 trains to the networks that day, it was packed, and clouded with smoke of both varieties.
The antics of the techno gangbangers above led the kids sitting next to us to grumble about the ‘azis’ (German for bogans or white trash). ‘C’mon’, I wanted to ask them, ‘Did you really think this was going to be 1.6 million people who are all there because they really, really love Dubfire?’
Who do you think the Spiegel showed photos of in their coverage? Techno gangbangers getting down with the Ruhr area’s Turkish, Italian and Polish Germans in a symbolic act of unity: or ugly girls with bare breasts?
Like Nas said, it ain’t hard to tell
There was only one way to deal with this long, tangled journey, with prolonged stops in Benrath and Leverkusen as the train attendants struggled to get people to mind the closing doors.