22 July 2008

1.6 Million at Love Parade 2008

The Love Parade attracted 1.6 million people this year. With the theme "Highway to Love", it featured 37 floats and 250 DJs from 15 countries. The massive crowd crammed along a 2km road in the city of Dortmund this last July 19.

The Love Parade is the largest outdoor electronica event in the world. From a single float with 150 people in Berlin 1989, it quickly became a mega spectacle amassing 1.5 million in 1999. It also inspired like-minded parades in Paris, Sidney, San Francisco and Rio.

However, the event has recently suffered some setbacks. It didn't happen in 2004 and 2005, due to financial problems. In 2006 it reappeared in Berlin with a 600,000 crowd. But city authorities denied permission for a future edition, as organizers failed to reach an agreement over sanitation and security issues. Are you planning on attending the Love Parade? You might want to get some cheap health insurance first. All those people mean good times but also a good headache perhaps.

The Love Parade was thus moved to the Ruhr metropolitan region, near the Dutch-French border. In 2007 it took place in the city of Essen, attracting 1.2 million people. Dortmund hosted the Love Parade this year. The next edition is scheduled to take place in Bochun town. With the new geographic location, the event may benefit from an extra influx of revelers for neighboring Netherlands, France and UK.

A change in the crowd demographics has been noticed over the years. Originally, the Love Parade congregated artistic, deviant and countercultural segments of metropolitan Berlin. Gradually, it started attracting more teen, working-class and small-town strata, which now make the mainstream of the Love Parade. (Watch the video).

In comparison with North America, Techno has achieved a truly popular status throughout Europe. Its popularity creates great opportunities for electronica artists and events. It also provides a source of entertainment, escape or enlightenment for millions of aficionados. By the same measure, mega events do require a good deal of coordination with urban authorities, to secure some safety and order.

Yet, it is odd to see official mayors formally and explicitly welcoming electronica events, in the hopes of boosting local tourism and bar sales. In the case of Dortmund's Love Parade, check the city-hosted website for the event, as well as the official Dortmund city website.

Is this one example of the cooptation of electronica? What do you think?

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