Colorful crowds thronged the streets of West Berlin as the first of twenty-odd floats blasting powerful techno music headed down the Ku'damm shopping strip towards the Tiergarten.
Currywurst stands too beamed dance beats as the city got into the mood for the first "Rave the Planet," a reincarnation of the legendary "Love Parade" that was created by party founder, Dr. Motte.
Though well shy of the million-odd people who packed into central Berlin during the parade's late-1990s peak, Saturday's event echoed its DIY and avowedly political origins.
Like the first street party that was registered as a demonstration for "Peace, Joy and Pancakes," with around 150 people dancing behind a small truck through the city to protest war and poverty, today was another official demo — this time to preserve electronic music culture that was hit hard by COVID.
The themes of solidarity, diversity, respect, music, sustainability and community were all on display as clubs, DJs and dancers of all ages and in all kinds of attire came together to celebrate a Berlin clubbing culture that Dr. Motte wants listed as UNESCO World Heritage.
'Part of something bigger'
"I love it. I love to feel part of something bigger, I like the political motivations behind it. Everyone is together," said Pacco, a Berlin resident originally from Cologne who was born eight years after the first Love Parade.
"It feels absolutely amazing, seeing your favorite clubs having these little parties, experiencing so many styles of music," said Cynthia while standing on the street during a rare break between blasting floats.
"We've been here for like 30 minutes and I think the vibe is absolutely amazing," she said. "This is something unique, I think you need to be in Berlin to experience something like this."
Berlin's wild spirit breaks free
As the crowd grew on the route through Nollendorfplatz, the center of Berlin's gay district where rainbow flags flew from surrounding apartments and people danced on balconies, one woman told DW that the parade reinforced of the strength of music and club culture and "how it has influenced Berlin."
Her friend had attended the Love Parade between 1996 and 1998 when more than one million people gathered around the the golden "Siegessäule," or Victory Column, in the Tiergarten — which was also the final stop for Rave the Planet. "It was much bigger, much louder," he said. "You couldn't move."
Another woman dressed in fluro-pink and green said she was last at the event in 2000, and said the crowd was more colorful and flamboyant, a reference to the time when it was the biggest party on the planet.
On the approach to the Tiergarten, the sun now shining on what seemed an endless street party, one young raver held up a "Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen," or "Peace, Joy and Pancakes," sign. She said the motto from the first Love Parade was still relevant. "It's about being together and having a good time, and about love."
"Together again" read the sign on one of the smaller passing floats, hundreds trailing in the thrall of the pounding beats emitted from the vehicle.
"The wild spirit of Berlin has broken free," said Duane from South Africa and a former Berliner who is back in town for summer.
Edited by: Manasi Gopalakrishnan