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Culture

No Love for Mexico Parade

Next week's Mexico Love Parade has been called off - yet another chapter in the Love Parade saga, following last year's debate on one of Germany's biggest cultural profit generators.

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Love, peace and a huge mess - the Love Parade, here in Berlin

"Music knows no borders" - Dr. Motte, founder and inventor of the legendary Love Parade once said.

But music does have its limits: This year’s Mexico love parade – due to take place on April 13 has been cancelled by the city council over safety issues.

Goethe Institut Mexico director Bernd Scherer, disclosing his disappointment, called the Love Parade a model for international culture exchange.

But safety, transport and the environment are issues which have dominated the Love Parade myth since its start in 1989.

In the run-up to last year’s Love Parade in Berlin there was precious little love lost, as party organizers, political leaders and citizens groups battled over the parade’s status as a political event.

The confusion arose when parade organizers set about securing the necessary permits for the second week in July, the parade’s traditional date – only to find the Tiergarten, Berlin’s Central Park and Love Parade site for over a decade, had already been booked by a citizens initiative called "Save the Tiergarten". The initiative was fed up with the annual damge done to the park by hordes of dancing ravers, including trampled bushes, urine-soaked flower beds and tons of rubbish.

Profit generator

Since its debut in 1989 as a public birthday party for sometime DJ Matthias Roenigh - alias Dr. Motte - when some 150 people marched down one of western Berlin’s main boulevards, the Love Parade has grown to what is though to be the world’s largest techno party.

And more: Club owners, hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and bars all profit from the "demonstration for respect, tolerance and communication between people", a demonstration which brings in millions of euros to the German capital each year.

Local politicians such as the then Berlin minister for internal affairs Eckehard Werthebach, well aware of the importance of the annual Love Parade, called for a solution citing the boost it gives to Berlin's image as a lively, young metropolis.

Both organisers and state government finally managed to settle on a later date. But city officials soon threw a new wrench in the works by announcing plans to revoke the Love Parade’s status as a political demonstration.

Germany’s highest court eventually ruled the event could not be classed as a political demonstration – meaning the organisers would have to pay for the clean-up, instead of the city’s taxpayers.

The whole confusion finally led to the abscence of some of the festival’s most prominent DJs, several sponsors and a drop in ravers from 1.3 million in 2000 to 800 000 in 2001. Police made some 180 arrests for theft and drugs offences, around 4000 people were treated by medical personnel and 466 taken to hospital.

About 2000 police officers, 900 first-aid workers and five ministers were out on the streets with the party-goers. It was an upheaval for an event termed by Love Parade spokesman Eric Nitzsche as a political demonstration par excellance due to the many ravers who come to Berlin each year for a worldly, tolerant togetherness.

Export success

Since ist start in 1989, the Love Parade has been exported to various countries all over the wold, including South Africa, Spain and Mexico. But here, too, the parade and ist consequences have been up for debate. Last year, the Newcastle Love Parade was cancelled at a week’s notice due to safety fears and unresolved transport issues.

However, in the German capital, the Love Parade has proved useful in promoting Berlin’s position as fun-loving, cosmopolitan city. It has helped the German majority to pay lip-service to the ideals of equality and tolerance. And it has also legitimated a mass cultural form, not necessarily dedicated to love and peace, better know for drugs and dancing that critical consciousness.

More than a model for love and peace, the Love Parade has evolved into a successful commercial export, an impressive profit generator - not only in Berlin.

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