E   Love Parade, Please Not Again Berlin Images A Berlin Cultural History

Interactive mapclick a link below to display relevant location markers
Love Parade first route, 1989-1995
Love Parade second route, 1996-2003, 2006
Old Club Mile (approximately 1992-1997)
New Club Mile (approximately 2004-present)
Charlottenberg, pop techno scene
Kreuzberg, techno house scene
Prenzlauer Berg/Spandauer Vorstadt, minimal-electro scene
Friedrichshain, hardcore scene
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    II. Party Architecture

  1. The move of the Love Parade in 1996 represented a fundamental change, indeed a crisis, in techno’s social position. Since the parade had begun in the fortuitous year 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall, it had already symbolically marked the techno scene’s association with a reunited Germany. In the early 1990s, the ferment of change in Berlin created a complicated picture of Berlin techno. A mix of organizations, venues, labels, and EDM styles has ensured a constantly evolving, often contradictory, picture of techno.8 Indeed, to speak of a single techno scene is simplistic, especially for a city like Berlin.9

  2. To try to grasp the stratification of the scene, I would like to point to four historically important wings of Berlin EDM. While I don’t want to hide the fact that this is a kind of shorthand, it nevertheless provides a more complex picture than simply referring to “Berlin techno.” The division of these four scenes reflects interesting organizational and cultural trends of Berlin city districts. It also makes clear that the historical change in Berlin EDM is closely intertwined with the transformation of the urban landscape of East Berlin — above all, the transformation of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, and Friedrichshain:10
    i. The pop techno scene (Charlottenburg: location of labels Low Spirit and Vandit): This scene centers around Berlin’s two most famous EDM stars: Westbam and Paul van Dyk, and their respective labels Low Spirit and Vandit. They remain associated with megaraves and the pop cultural call for “the raving society.” The organization and economy of the Love Parade was closely connected to this scene. Its main journalistic organ, the Berlin fanzine Frontpage (itself located in neighboring Schöneberg), was key to the rise of pop techno.

    ii. The techno-house scene (Kreuzberg: location of Tresor, SO-36, Hardwax, Spacehall and Groove magazine): This scene originally developed around the UFO club, and then the Tresor and E-Werk clubs. It has provided a relatively stable club culture over time, relying upon the long-established countercultural tradition of Kreuzberg. This scene later crystallized around the Tresor label and club, with other important labels such as Kanzleramt in the vicinity.

    Figure 4: Covers of compilation albums from the Tresor record label

    iii. The minimal-electro scene (Prenzlauer Berg/Spandauer Vorstadt: location of BPitch Control, m_nus, International DJ Gigolos, and De:Bug magazine): This scene can be closely related to the transformation of the district of Prenzlauer Berg from its rapid reconstruction in the 1990s to settled yuppie life of the 2000s. This scene has become the most prominent “Sound of Berlin” since the 2000s. With the decline of the “pop techno” scene in Berlin, minimal/electro has arguably taken over a number of its elements.

    iv. The hardcore scene (Friedrichshain: location of Ad Noiseam, Praxis, and RAW-Temple): This scene consists primarily of more dissonant and noise-oriented EDM genres, deriving inspiration partly from industrial and hardcore punk. Examples include breakcore, gabber, and drum & bass. Wolle XDP, Alec Empire and the band Atari Teenage Riot, Christoph Fringeli, and Current Value are examples of some DJs/producers associated with this scene. Leftist, squatter, and anarchist scenes are also associated with Friedrichshain. The hardcore scene’s general history begins with the Tekknozid Raves and the Bunker club in the early nineties. Currently, its most well known gathering is the Fuck Parade, founded in 1996 as an oppositional parade following the Love Parade’s move to the Brandenburg Gate and to protest the closing of the Bunker club.

  3. These categorizations reflect only partially, however, real geographic differences in scene structures; the various scenes tend rather to utilize the symbolic value of these districts. Occasionally, these differences can result in political-economic and/or aesthetic-cultural conflicts, but there remains an impressive amount of exchange. For example, at Berlin’s most famous club currently, Berghain, one can find techno, electro-minimal, and breakcore parties all taking place within a single week. These various scenes thus congregate at the current club mile stretching the borders between Prenzlauberg, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain. What is striking in this new structure is the relative absence of the pop techno scene; the history and fortunes of pop techno in Berlin were indeed closely connected to the rise and fall of the Love Parade.

  4. However, back in 1996, the geographic move of the Love Parade represented the culmination of the goals of pop techno protagonists to transform techno from subculture to pop industry. The move of the Love Parade to Berlin Mitte, as a capital city with significant flows of tourists, meant a move to a primarily tourist and governmental district. As noted, this move occurred at the same time as the disintegration of the old club mile on account of Berlin’s inevitable transformation as the new German capital. This development created a flurry of heated debates as to what the parade signified with respect to rave culture.11

  5. The notion of raves has a complicated history. A rave, as the term is popularly used, simply means any event consisting primarily of EDM. However, this broad definition can be counterbalanced by a definition that considers not just music, but the party’s social structure.12 In its strictest (and idealistic) definition, the term represents a heterotopia with multiple components, continuing principles that were pioneered by mobile discotheques, Afro-Caribbean ‘sound systems,’ the free festival movements, and Hippie groups such as the New Age Travellers.13 One group that was legendary for its strivings toward and battles over these ideals was the Spiral Tribe in England.14 In Berlin, this movement was associated with the hardcore scene with its Tekknozid raves and the Bunker club. Accordingly, the claim to a party’s status as a “rave” can be challenged if it ignores any of these components. A list of ideal conditions based on subcultural ideology can be formulated as follows:
    (1) Musical: The party consists of EDM, played by DJs who ideally do not require payment and do not perform on a raised stage above the partiers. Equality between performers and partiers is maintained.

    (2) Geographic: A new location is found, never before imagined as a place to hold parties. This represents the reclamation and reimagination of a space neglected, made banal, or declared legally off-limits.

    (3) Economic: The party is free and organized on a volunteer basis. No corporate advertising is involved. In the spirit of equality, musicians do not play for profit.

    (4) Political: Proselytizing based on certain platforms is not allowed. The political component is expressed through music, dancing, art, and progressive social interaction, not banners and speeches. Nevertheless, commitment to certain principles, especially non-violent and anti-establishment attitudes, is assumed; there are usually expectations that members show evidence of subcultural capital.15

    (5) Legal: The party is illegal, which results in a number of economic-political benefits. Freedom is understood in a number of forms. Taxes are not paid to the state; anyone of any age is welcome and does not need to fear being searched. Participants are free to use drugs without the fear of arrest, though they must be responsible for their actions. These components are closely intertwined, and changes in any of them can radically alter the party architecture. Of course, in the actual history of EDM parties, all sorts of organizational structures have formed that reflect the above ideals to widely varying degrees, and as a result, the term rave can cause confusion.
    The question of urban geography is thus intertwined with larger political issues. As stated, raving in its stricter definition traditionally engages in a process of geographic exploration; it takes derelict, illegal, and abandoned spaces and transforms them briefly into party places. These spaces are usually one of two types. First: urban sites such as abandoned warehouses — thus, by necessity, indoor parties. This kind of warehouse party emphasizes the postmodern/post-Fordist states of the city. It explores sites of nineteenth- or twentieth-century industrial production, sometimes nostalgically so. Indeed, it could be described as a bizarre form of post-industrial anti-tourism that takes form as a “postmodern game with the ruins of disappearing industry” (Klein, 152). Second: rural sites such as fields and beaches — thus, by necessity, open-air parties. The very designation open-air emphasizes that the dome of the sky is one’s ceiling as opposed to a ramshackle roof, which creates a different relationship to space and acoustics. In these parties, the odd juxtaposition of electronic music’s hypermodern fortissimo amongst nature’s silence allows for an especially pronounced experience of the nature-culture divide.

  6. In both these types, raves attempt to carve out places of resistance outside the sanctioned spaces of musical consumption: clubs, bars, and concerts. Though as Adam Krims has shown, the distinction of space and place has become ever more tenuous in post-Fordist society (see Krims, 27–60). Furthermore, these traditional sites were also integral to the development of EDM, making their own claims to underground authenticity. In relation to both indoor and open-air practices, urban geography was crucial to the Love Parade’s success and uniqueness as an event. It was the first major event to consider seriously the parade as a possible social form of EDM expression, and the parade form proved particularly effective because it traverses these various party architectures. A parade is in the open air, but it also takes place at the center of an urban space; it thus represents a fusion of warehouse and open-air party on the streets. Nevertheless, the Love Parade only achieved the subcultural ideal to varying degrees. Taking the five components earlier described, the model, as it ultimately transformed in the second stage of the Love Parade, appeared as follows:
    (1) Musical: The Love Parade retained EDM as the sole musical genre. A mix of famous and local DJs performed on trucks with designated partiers and professional dancers. However, a central stage raised high above the masses was the special site for the performances of international DJ-stars. Nevertheless, each star only performed for 20 minutes, so a semblance of collectivity was maintained and no single DJ captured the spotlight.

    (2) Geographic: Die Straße des 17. Juni, as stated, was the location of the parade. It is the national street of Germany, next to the Reichstag and running up to the Brandenburg Gate.

    (3) Economic: The party maintained the democratic ideal of “free entry.” However, attendants had to “pay” for this free entry with a compromise: the presence of corporate advertising and other forms of promotion. The parade was a cash cow for products and marketing of all kinds. The size of the party required an organization of paid employees, the Love Parade Berlin Gmbh, with close relations to the firms Planetcom and Low Spirit Recordings. The official board members of the Love Parade Gmbh included during its second stage Matthias Roenigh (Dr. Motte), William Rötger (father of Maximilian Lenz [Westbam] and Fabian Lenz [DJ Dick]), Klaus Jürgen Jahnkuhn, Sandra Mollzahn, and Dr. Andreas Steuermann.16 The parade provided economic benefits for Berlin business, tourism, and the club scene.

    (4) Political: The event remained free from proselytizing. To meet the requirements of a demonstration, Dr. Motte held a short, annual speech mostly consisting of platitudes regarding the parade’s mission. However, interviews and statements made by public figures resulted in a flood of media discourse that accompanied the event throughout the year.

    (5) Legal: Police presence was necessary, though partiers were free to enter parade grounds without being searched. The parade held the legal designation of a demonstration for “peace, unity and understanding.”
    The Love Parade thus approached the ideal conditions of a rave to varying degrees, and the parade as a social form presented specific challenges. As an event held in the daylight at the center of a metropolis, the partying masses provided a visual and media spectacle that meant music often took back seat or was completely ignored. (Click to view Bravo magazine coverage of the 2000 Love parade)

  7. Above all, the move of the Love Parade to the location in front of the Brandenburg Gate placed it on a piece of geography that is perhaps the most highly contested in all of Germany. The specific urban geography of Berlin provided the occasion for the particular clashes regarding music, space, and place. Constructed between 1788 and 1791 as a symbol of Prussian state power (officially it was a symbol of peace, but its olive branch was exchanged for the Iron Cross in 1814), the gate was later used extensively for military parades during both the Second and Third Reichs. The breadth of Die Strasse des 17. Juni was developed during the Third Reich for even grander military parades and as a central street of the so-called East-West-Axis (part of Hitler’s plans for the new metropolis of Germania). Its current name, “The Street of the 17th June,” is a product of the Cold War, named by the FRG in honor of the East German uprisings that took place and were brutally crushed on that day in 1953. The street was renamed just five days after the uprising, and this day became a national holiday. Entitled the Day of German Unity, it was celebrated annually from 1953 until 1990. After the Second World War, the gate became a symbol of Berlin’s, and indeed all of Europe’s, division between East and West, the result of the Berlin Wall running directly in front of the gate. When the wall was finally torn down in 1989, the Brandenburg Gate’s role as a central symbol of the Cold War was solidified.

  8. Accordingly, when the Love Parade moved to this location in 1996, it immediately had to confront a landmark with a volatile history. On one hand, the Cold War caused the Brandenburg Gate to be morphed into a contested site of a divided city, divided Germany, divided Europe, and divided world — registering on numerous levels of the local, the national, the continental (pan-European), and the global. The Love Parade’s organization exploited this history to allow it to be associated alternatively with all of these levels. However, the decision to make Berlin the capital of reunified Germany quickly made the conservative history of the site as a national symbol prominent again. While the official messages from the Love Parade continued to emphasize internationalism, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) attempted to exploit the parade to try to gain support of the youth,17 and the parade’s size and success also inevitably became a symbol of Germany’s new stature. The free movement of young ravers through the Brandenburg Gate inevitably resulted in the parade becoming a pop symbol of German national unity.

  9. Indeed, with the move to the Brandenburg Gate, the Love Parade moved on to the radar screen of the state. This public display meant that the Love Parade had arguably changed from a rave to a Volksfest — from heterotopia to pop mob. It represented an anomaly of massive proportions compared to the other Berlin techno events occurring through the year. Yet the music remained the same as was heard at standard raves and clubs. Indeed, the degree to which the parade maintained its subcultural capital is surprising, since even with its enormous size, neither commercial dance-acts, like Scooter or Blümchen, nor groups from other genres such as rock or hip hop were ever to be found. Therefore, the common criticism that in its second stage “the Love Parade is no longer techno” is based more on arguments from the standpoint of politics and subcultural ideology than from sound musical observation. A more apt musical critique would argue that the parade became too narrow in its focus: the parade embraced techno, house, and trance almost exclusively, to the detriment of other EDM genres. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the DJs performing at the parade remained those who were integral to the club and rave circuit; producers and DJs from not only pop techno, but also techno/house, minimal/electro, and even wings of the hardcore scene were present.

  10. Critique of the size of the Love Parade remained intense, however, and it focused especially on two issues: (1) the commercialization and reactionary elements developing around techno’s lack of social commitment, and (2) the environmental damage incurred by the Tiergarten from the trampling of the vegetation and the corrosion from the enormous quantities of urine. To the first question, a range of apologies were offered. For example, as to whether techno wishes to take over and fuse with pop culture, Westbam answered with an emphatic yes: “Because for us the beginnings in the underground were also always an eruption into a revolutionized popular culture… the restructuring of the entertainment industry in the sense of the raving society belongs to the important tasks of the coming years” (116–117).18 He asks further, “Which revolution wants to stay on the reservation?”, and at one point he cites Kraftwerk’s ideal of elektronische Volksmusik, reflected in their lyric, “Music non-stop. TechnoPop.”19 Such writings are typical of the pop techno faction.

  11. Techno as a social phenomenon indeed expanded with a relentless drive, while remaining unclear as to what the goal of this “raving society” might be. Its chosen subcultural enemy in the 1990s was often rock music (disparaged as guitar or acoustic music), a kind of rekindling of the disco/rock debate of the seventies and eighties. A major reason that techno attacked rock (vaguely linked with punk, metal, and grunge) was due to rock’s turn from the dance floor to the mosh pit. Rock seemed to counter the crippling boredom of everyday life with equally crippling violence and depression. In 1999, many techno fans saw the ultimate proof of the triumph over rock. That year, the Love Parade drew an extraordinary 1.5 million people and went off peacefully, while Woodstock ’99 drew a mere 220,000 people and was beset with rioting, looting, sexual assault, and violence.

  12. Simon Reynolds provides a further possible answer to this conflict in his chapter “Living the Dream” from Generation Ecstasy. He recounts the transformation of London’s football hooligans through rave culture and ecstasy: “The heartless hoolie turned loved-up nutter was proof that Ecstasy really was a wonder drug, an agent of a spiritual and social revolution” (46). Techno offered a rough opposition between two camps: violence, beer, and football versus love, ecstasy, and dance. For Reynolds, raving represents the revolt of a subculture against forms of entertainment that it sees as destructive. The coding of the first activities as masculine and prosaic and the second as gay/feminine and poetic even resulted in the designation of techno as “straight disco music.”20

  13. Transferring Reynolds’ theory from England to Germany, it can be applied to a number of aspects of German techno culture: (1) The transformation of East Germany, a practice closely linked to Berlin with its conflicted praise for East Berlin ravers and disparaging stereotypes regarding provincial “Brandenburg proles” associated with the Love Parade;21 (2) The revolt against the boredom of German utilitarian life and, similar to England, the popular love of beer and football; (3) Perhaps most profoundly, the resistance to Germany’s distinguished tradition of hetero-masculine, dead-serious politics. Regarding this third aspect, the Love Parade’s message, aside from the platitudes for peace, justice, and non-violence for non-violence’s sake, was anti-message- and anti-utility-oriented. The founder of the Love Parade, Dr. Motte, explains his original ideas from 1989 thus: “We’ll make a demonstration. We’ll use no banners, no words, no rally cries, but music.”22 The dream of an event beyond language aimed for all-encompassing acceptance; the only speech was Dr. Motte short talk to fulfill the state’s requirement that traditional, verbal discourse constitute a political demonstration. His ideal of having absolutely no words or rally cries was thus not possible on three grounds: first, it was not legally possible as a registered demonstration; second, advertisements were financially necessary; and third, the claim to anti-discourse requires traditional discourse to utter the claim in the first place.

  14. Irony was Dr. Motte’s main weapon against these compromises. He continues, “And then I reasoned, for that we’ll need a motto.”23 Dr. Motte’s first choice of motto was, I would argue, the most interesting and indicative motto, embodying the political irony with which the parade began: Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen [Peace, Joy, Pancakes] — in a sense, a rally cry against the notion of a rally cry. Unfortunately, many later mottos became boring Anglophone platitudes of self-praise and advertisement, such as “We are One Family” and “One World, One Loveparade”; however, such political irony continued through much of the parade’s history. Specifically, this original motto reflected the ironic clash of Love with the traditional military and political notions of Parade, a tactic obviously borrowed from pride parades. The clash was further reflected in the music video to the first European-wide dance single to invoke the Love Parade: Da Hool’s “Meet Her at the Love Parade.”

    Video 6: Da Hool: “Meet Her at the Love Parade: 1997”

    Da Hool is a project name of DJ Hooligan, a name appropriate to the Eurotrash styles in this video, epitomized with the fierce leopard outfit of one of the raver chicks and the obsession with sunglasses.

    A temporal clash between partytime and history, the dancers maintain pop ironic distance before the various classic sites of the city; atop the love-trucks that move freely through the reunited city, the various dancers perform camp freakouts. The camera absorbs their attention and acts as narcissistic mirror; the dancers demonstrate that they couldn’t care less about their surroundings. To put it mildly, the poses and countenances of the dancers among these monuments do not conform to the expected, proper composure of a citizen before such structures — and the dancers know it.

  15. The Love Parade’s legal situation was equally as ironic as its politics — registered as a political demonstration, and yet apolitical in terms of its refusal to take up a specific platform or issue. For critics of the Love Parade from the hardcore and techno-house scenes, the parade’s betrayal rested in this relationship to geography and the state. The ideal conditions with respect to these issues were famously articulated in Hakim Bey’s anarchist writings with the notion of the Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ). As Bey argues, “The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it” (101). This notion was important to many in the anarchist faction of the techno-house and hardcore scenes. It was crucial that raves stage illegal events, remain constantly on the move, and not seek out the spotlight of the official media. The Love Parade, however, had become an official demonstration.

  16. According to democratic theory, a demonstration is an oppositional gathering like an uprising. But unlike an uprising, it is an oppositional gathering within the law. For the Love Parade’s finances, remaining within the law became crucial. As stated earlier, it meant that the state would pay for the security and cleanup. The Love Parade is thus distinct from both commercial raves and clubs, which are legal but entirely the financial responsibility of the promoters, and illegal raves, which fulfill Bey’s notion of an uprising more closely. The parade became another case of an organization exploiting a loophole in the law, an event bordering precariously between legal-illegal, public funding, and commercial profit; the responses to this situation included both positive and negative valences. Achim Szepanski, manager of the Frankfurt label Force Inc., termed the social formation of German techno and the Love Parade as the free-time-prison, “Freizeitknast” (Reynolds, 388). Such stances reflected the theoretical formulations of a long tradition of European critical thought, especially Theodor W. Adorno’s and Max Horkheimer’s theory of the culture industry. Rainald Goetz, the central literary figure of the German pop techno scene, dismissed such charges with scorn. Against the screams from the pulpits of “critique,” which he likens to the pulpits of “faith,” he simply grants their wish, according to him, “to sink in the swamp of marginality. Have fun, down there in the trash” (Goetz, Celebration 221).24 On the other hand, Goetz’s way of affirming the vulgar democracy of the parade is not exactly full of praise: “The unhappy creatures, all the tired and worried, the lethargic masses, the disconsolate, the broken, the idiotic who can also tag along, like every fucking person who wants to, to that single beat” (Celebration 223).25 Goetz invites the masses to join in, but he has nothing to say about where they come from and where they go afterwards. This bizarre form of praise reflects at the same time “progressive” Berlin’s prejudicial and often classist distain for the “Brandenburg proles” to be found at the parade.

  17. An affirmative, if more subtly ambivalent, perspective on the parade comes from one of Berlin’s major DJanes, Ellen Allien. She says the following:
    A sign that the Love Parade is not dead: as I myself stood there at the Siegessäule, and played some kind of super prole-track, or a commercial-track, in other words, a type of music that I don’t necessarily like, but in that moment it worked so well. There was a break dah-de-dah dah-de-dah and all the hands went up, and all the people simply felt the same thing at that moment. I just found that totally awesome. Then I understood techno again.26
    These moments, while easily critiqued, are not so easy to negate experientially, as Ellen Allien admits with reserved astonishment. She describes a kind of musical politics over which she has little control, a tense space between subculture and mass movement carved out in the Love Parade — as she later states, “It’s not so easy to move masses.”27 Indeed, a single individual deejaying for over a million people in one location certainly represents one of the most extraordinary events of amplified sound in modern times. Yet the experiences of the DJs who played at the Siegessäule, as well as the audience, have seldom been described, artistically represented, or even taken seriously. It is to these experiences as represented in film and video that I now turn, to concretize the Love Parade and the encounter with Berlin.

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Works Cited


8 The term EDM is one that has gained currency in the Anglophone world but remains virtually non-existent in German scholarship and the techno scene. The term “techno” in Germany continues to have a double use: on the one hand, techno designates a specific style of EDM connected to Detroit and associated with faster forms of 4/4 dance music that often are grouped under the term “German techno.” On the other hand, techno continues to be used as a convenient rubric for all EDM styles, including electronic listening music like ambient or IDM, and breakbeat styles like drum and bass or dubstep. Techno, unlike EDM, also serves as a more convenient and poetic term for “techno culture,” referring to lifestyle aspects beyond musical style. I will thus switch between these terms, using techno for both the 4/4 beat stereotypes associated with the music and the more general notion of techno culture, while using EDM on occasion as a clearer musical rubric.

9 For information on the rise of the various styles and Berlin subscenes, I again recommend We Call It Techno!: A Documentary about Germany’s Early Techno Scene and Culture. The 1993 TV-Documentary Techno City: Ein Wochenende in der Berliner Szene is also informative; it films typical sites of the original club mile and contains rich interviews with DJs and ravers. Detailed written studies of Berlin EDM are unfortunately scarce. Julia Werner’s “Die Club-Party: Eine Ethnographie der Berliner Techno-Szene” (Hitzler and Pfadenhauer, 31–50) scarcely deals with the structures of the Berlin scene; rather, it recycles current theory about club cultures and repeats established views on techno. Tobias Rapp’s recent book Lost and Sound: Berlin, Techno, und der Easyjetset (2009) is more helpful and will be addressed later in this article.

10 I do this with the caveat that these divisions not be used as an occasion for unproductive debates such as the Manhattan-o-centric academic discussion of “Uptown” and “Downtown.” I hope this will provide a more nuanced picture of Berlin and be informative regarding how musical representation works on city district levels. Nevertheless, this division of districts does reveal at once the complexity of Berlin and at the same time, its potential for narcissistic self-absorption that at times parallels New York and other major cities.

11 For a rich account of the political debates regarding the parade in Germany, see Erik Meyer’s “Zwischen Parties, Paraden, und Protest: Zur politischen Soziologie der Techno-Szene” (Hitzler and Pfadenhauer, 51–68). His account includes the heated discussions regarding the parade’s move in 1996; initially, Alexanderplatz and the Karl-Marx-Allee were offered as an optional route (Hitzler and Pfadenhauer, 57). The organizers’ rejection of this proposal and insistence upon Die Straße des 17. Juni demonstrates their choice was targeted and not the only option for accommodating the increased size of the parade. Other Love Parade studies are less helpful. The only book published on the Love Parade, Alexander Belser’s X-Sample: Love Parade (1999), does not address the significance of Berlin or Die Straße des 17. Juni, even in its sections focusing on urban environments. A similar lack in concreteness, which results in some bizarre conclusions, can be found in the article by John Borneman and Stefan Senders entitled “Politics without a Head: Is the ‘Love Parade’ a New Form of Political Identification?” (2000) This article takes the Love Parade as an abstract occasion (Which year? Which ravers? Which DJs? Which drugs?) and plugs the parade into a macro-cognitive theory machine of philosophers, anthropologists, and sociologists to see what comes out. To be sure, the article contains many interesting observations on discursivity, phallic authority, and politics that have echoes in my study. However, the writers mostly neglect concreteness with reference to Berlin or the techno scene. Equally as macro-abstract as their “Love Parade” is the amorphous class of “ravers,” all of whom they tendentiously conclude reject “discursivity.” They even claim ravers have developed a new form of language called “rave talk”: “We have said that ravers refuse discursivity, but that is not to say that they do not talk or communicate… While ravers wait, they have occasion to talk — rave talk. With reference to neither a definite past nor a possible future, rave talk creates a constricted chronology of the present; devoid of locutionary force, it intends neither meaning nor significance” (307). The authors then proceed to quote the novelist/playwright Rainald Goetz, with little acknowledgement that they might be conflating Goetz’s style of writing with how an entire music scene talks. I suppose also that based on this research, everyone should beware that any form of small talk or intoxicated babble while waiting around could be construed as “rave talk.”

12 Sarah Thornton brilliantly traces the pre-rave history of party structures in her book Club Cultures (1996). In the chapter “Authenticities from Record Hops to Rave,” she explores the transformation of various party structures in the United Kingdom since the 1950s from record hops and dances to discoteques, discos, clubs, and raves, carefully considering the economic and legal conditions that led to these changes. This history has many parallels in Germany, although Germany has emphasized a number of distinct party forms that aren’t prominent in England, as I argue — above all, the techno parade.

13 The history of the free festival movements can be explored on the website www.ukrockfestivals.com. An account of the history of one legendary free festival, The Stonehenge Festival, can be found in Andy Worthington’s Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion (2004). A BBC4 documentary entitled “Time Shift” also offers a history of the New Age Travellers, though this documentary is unfortunately not available on DVD.

14 See the chapter “Fight for Your Right to Party: Spiral Tribe and the Crusty-Raver Movement, 1991–97” in Simon Reynolds’ Generation Ecstasy (162–79), published in slightly altered form in Energy Flash (134–54). This ideal of mobile, anarchist tactics inspired many similar organizations, many of which are prominent in the United States as was reported by Gina Fatone in “We Thank the Technology Goddess for Giving Us the Ability to Rave: Gamelan, Techno-Primitivism, and the San Francisco Rave Scene” Echo: A Music-Centered Journal 3.1 (Spring 2001).

15 The notion of “subcultural capital” derives from Sarah Thornton’s Club Cultures. She states succinctly, “Subcultural capital can be objectified and embodied. Just as books and paintings display cultural capital in the family home, so subcultural capital is objectified in the form of fashionable haircuts and well-assembled record collections (full of well-chosen, limited edition ‘white label’ twelve-inches and the like). Just as cultural capital is personified in ‘good’ manners and urbane conversation, so subcultural capital is embodied in the form of ‘being in the know,’ using (but not overusing) current slang and looking as if you were born to perform the latest dance styles” (11–12).

16 For a particularly vehement demand that the cryptic financial structure of the Love Parade Gmbh be released to the public, see the article “Join the Cash Republic” on www.fuckparade.org/presse/2001-07-10/join-the-cash-republic/.

17 See Peer Wiechmann’s discussion of the CDU (the center-right party of Germany) and their strategy regarding the parade in Journal der Jugendkulturen 2 (2000, 14–15).

18 “Weil für uns die Anfänge im underground auch immer der Aufbruch in eine revolutionierte Populärkultur war… Der Umbau der Unterhaltungsmaschine im Sinne der ravenden Gesellschaft wird zu den wichtigen Aufgaben der nächsten Jahre gehören.”

19 “Welche Revolution will schon ins Reservat?”

20 Techno’s opposition to beer as the drug of violence was pronounced in its earliest stages. But surprisingly, the consumption of beer was largely the cause of the Tiergarten destruction that provoked such strong criticisms of the parade. In a sense, the cost of beer-urine cleanup caused the Love Parade’s downfall in 2003, not scandal over ecstasy, as might be assumed. Similarly, the opposition between queer techno and straight rock was clearly false; much of the goal of “queering hooligans” disappeared rapidly, and German and European popular culture became inundated with clichés of straight-male DJs and submissive female dancer/groupies, as could be seen in countless music videos on VIVA and MTV.

21 Borrowing from George Orwell and British slang, I use the term prole as a translation for the common German insult regarding “die Proleten” (workers) and its adjective form, “prollig” (vulgar, proletarian). “Prollig,” while literally a classist term, is so commonly used that it is even a favorite insult for many people who consider themselves on the Left. Brandenburg is the state surrounding Berlin, and thus Berliners often voice anger at the provincial Brandenburgers who come into Berlin to party on the weekends. It could also be argued that symbolically, Brandenburg stands for the entirety of provincial or conservative Germany, i.e., whomever stands on the outside of Berlin urban life.

22 Dr. Motte interview in the DVD, Loveparade: Masses in Motion (2003). “Wir machen eine Demonstration. Wir benutzen keine Transparente, keine Worte, keine Parolen, sondern mit Musik.”

23 Ibid. “Und dann habe ich mir überlegt, wir brauchen ein Motto dafür.”

24 “Im Sumpf der Marginalität zu versinken./ Viel Spaß, da unten, im Dreck.”

25 “Die unglücklichen Kreaturen, all die Mühseligen und Beladenen, die massenhaften Stumpfen, Trostlosen, Kaputten und Verblödeten, die auch mitstapfen dürfen, wie fucking jeder, der will, zu dem einen Beat.”

26 Ellen Allien interview in the DVD, Loveparade: Masses in Motion (2003).

Figure 5: Cover of Ellen Allien's Berlinette (2003)
Figure 6: Ellen Allien, from Time Out’s “The Other Side” series (2007)
“Ein Zeichen, dass die Loveparade nicht tot ist: als ich selber da stand auf der Siegessäule und irgend so ein super Proll-Act gespielt, oder ein Kommerz-Act, also eine Musik die ich nicht unbedingt mag, aber die in dem Moment so gut funktioniert hat. Da war ein Break dah-de-dah dah-de-dah, und alle Hände gingen hoch, und alle Leute haben in dem Moment einfach das Gleiche gefühlt. Das fand ich einfach super geil. Dann habe ich auch Techno wieder verstanden.” As manager of the label Bpitch Control, Allien has herself maintained an extraordinarily successful career as Berlin’s most famous DJane. She has cultivated an identity with the city more than any other techno artist, releasing her first album Stadtkind in 2001, followed by Berlinette in 2003, as well as a DVD tour guide of Berlin in 2007 as part of Time Out’s “The Other Side” series. This fascinating musical and cultural city-tour emphasizes the cosmopolitan aspects of a reunited Berlin, with nods to its history during World War II and as a divided city. There is no mention of the Love Parade or of a politically charged counterculture; rather, it focuses on the changing identity of Berlin as both a fully developed capital city and capitalist city of leisure — a place of lounges, bars, and legal clubs that mark the everyday life of affluent, international youth under global capitalism.

27 Ibid. “Es ist nicht so einfach Massen zu bewegen.”

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