29 July 2010

Death in the Love Parade

Something went terribly wrong in the last edition of the Love Parade which took place in Duisburg (Germany's Ruhr region) on July 24. Massive crowds bottlenecked in one of the entrances, and 21 people were crushed to death and 500 injured.

Over the years, safety warnings have been issued, although only minimal incidents have been registered. The main problem has always been the huge mess and logistical chaos resulting from a concentration of up to 1.6 million revelers each year. In the early 2000s, Berlin curtailed its public services support (police, garbage collection, traffic control), and the Love Parade was moved to the post-industrial Ruhr region where its towns, looking for a new look and tourism, take turns in hosting the event.

But this year's Love Parade took place in an apparently compact area of a relatively unprepared town, as the venue was occupied by a long line of trucks with DJ music systems, whereto hundreds of thousands of people, as usual, concentrate. The safety controls collapsed against the massive crowd, which could not be hold back. Authorities could only pray for that the worst would not happen, but it did. More information can be accessed in the press, such as UK's The Economist.

As repercussions - it is unlikely that the Love Parade will be forbidden. But tighter regulations and professional organization will be certainly demanded by public authorities (- remember, this is Germany). The encroachment of public controls/commercial interests begs the question of whether the Love Parade remains a political carnival, a movement of critique of mainstream society. Certainly not.

Let's face it, an event that attracts 1.5 million young people and is sponsored ("co-opted") by a gym chain, structured nightclubs, and local mayors is by no means countercultural. That doesn't mean that it has no value, or that people can't have fun. Enjoying and taking it lightly is something that several countercultural subcultures have forgotten... In any case, minimal organization and safety must be provided, particularly at such massive levels of attendance.


  1. that is horrible. i also think that people will have less fun in the future parades.

  2. some more details. in that city it wasn't really a parade, the trucks just went in circles on a square big enough for 300.000-500.000 people.
    but many more wanted to come, like the years before. there was only one tunnel (!) for all the people as an entry. so when this one was closed because of the over-crowding, people went through the barriers and started to run in panic. also in front of the tunnel so many people gathered that those who collapsed couldn't be saved. 20 people died in the running mass and infront of the tunnel.
    it was catastrophically organised obviously, also before many expressed their doubts that this event could take place in a safe way there.
    the organiser already stated that this will be the last edition.
    dr. motte, the organiser of the original loveparade in berlin stated that the organisers are to blame for this whole catastrophy. large parts of the public agree.