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Music, Beer and Peace For All As Love Parade Returns

DW staff / AFP (sp)
July 15, 2006

A million ravers hit Berlin on Saturday to dance in the sun with their shirts off and revive the techno spirit of the 1990s as Germany's Love Parade returned with a vengeance after a two-year break.

Around a million ravers hit Berlin on SaturdayImage: AP

In the mid-afternoon, tanned men wearing nothing but white fur knickers danced at the Brandenburg Gate, the starting point for the party that stretches for kilometres (miles) through the Tiergarten park.

Behind it, 40 floats manned with international deejays and
dancers in micro-skirts snaked through the throng on the June 17th Avenue.

A week ago the street was still officially called the Fan Mile
and on some days crowded out with almost a million football fans who came to follow the football World Cup on outdoor screens.

Tänzer auf der Love Parade 2002
There was a lot white fur aroundImage: AP

The paraders also came from far and drank beer, but the
similarity ended there.

"No, we weren't here for the football. We came for this. We are a bit bedazzled. There is nothing this big back home," said Dale Harwick, a horticulturist from Melbourne, Australia seeking shade under a tree. "Mate, at eight o'clock all the floats go up to the front and they all make music together. The top comes off," he explained.

"The Love is Back"

The Love Parade dates back to 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell. The first time it drew 150 people but in following years the numbers exploded as post-communist Berlin became a cool destination for young travelers from all over and the techno music trend for marathon dance parties swept the world.

In 1999, 1.5 million paraders packed out central Berlin for 24
hours of dancing and kindness among strangers but in recent years the shine wore off as revelers complained that it had become an increasingly commercial event.

For the past two years, the parade was canceled for lack of
funding. It returned this year under the title "The Love is Back" after the owner of a chain of fitness clubs put up two million euros (2.5 million dollars) in sponsorship.

"Drugs have no place at the parade"

This time the parade also aimed to change its image of revelers tripped out on ecstasy with hard alcohol beverages in hand. Instead, participants were given glucose candy to keep up the energy levels and handed non-alcoholic beverages to lower the possibility of accidents.

The main sponsor, Rainer Schaller said that "drugs have no place at the parade."

A typical Love Parade sceneImage: AP

Die-hard fans said they had sorely missed the event and were happy to drive across Europe to come back.

"It's my fourth time. It is beautiful to see so many people all
do the same thing," said Martin Haas, one of a group of Dutch students all dressed up in Roman togas for the party. They stood out for being so classical, surrounded by a sea of girls wearing leopard print underwear and pigtails or plastic flowers in their hair and tattoos everywhere.

A few German girls coolly ignored the thumping beat in identical T-shirts proclaiming "No pictures please."

"It is pure provocation. Everybody talks to us and takes lots of pictures," laughed Anite Breuer, a bank clerk from the western city of Cologne.

Love Parade veteran Henrik Schrage, a bar owner from Osnabrück also in western Germany, said it was the eighth year he had come to the party but remarked that it was off to a worryingly slow start.

By early evening however, organisers said they had hit the
million mark as a human tide stretched all the way from the
Brandenburg Gate to the 19th century Victory Column monument.