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Berlin Steels Itself for Love Parade

Germany: Uncertainty may cause festival turnout to drop. But the techno beat will be loud.

July 22, 2001|From Reuters

Berlin on Saturday braced itself for an invasion of about half a million ravers in town for the 13th annual Love Parade dance music fest.

Confusion over whether the open-air party was going ahead was expected to keep the number of scantily clad techno fans below last year's million plus, jeopardizing the Parade's image as the world's biggest and brashest dance music party.

But in spite of a predicted low turnout and threats by the organizers to take next year's bash elsewhere after weeks of wrangling over costs and dates this year, the beat meisters and emergency services were gearing up for business as usual.

The Parade will pulsate along two routes bisecting Berlin's Tiergarten park and meet up in the center of the park around the iconic Victory Column, where the sweaty exhibitionism of the dancers usually reaches fever pitch.

Hundreds of DJs, including some of the continent's best known names, will serve up ear-screeching tunes from 50 floats.

About 2,000 police will be deployed wearing special Love Parade badges. Hundreds of temporary toilets have been erected to try to prevent weak-bladdered ravers from "watering" the greenery.

More than 800 health workers will be on hand to deal with exhausted dancers, most overwhelmed by alcohol but some suffering side-effects of drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine.

The techno extravaganza was supposed to be held on July 14, but a tiny group of environmentalists, determined to protect the Tiergarten park from the gyrating hordes, thwarted the organizers by registering their own rally in the central park before them.

After weeks of wrangling, the city finally agreed to let the parade roll out a week later.

But the event has lost its status as a demonstration, which means organizers and not the city have to pick up a trash bill of nearly $450,000.

Furious at having to pay for the clean-up, the Love Parade's organizers have threatened that this year's rave will be the last in the German capital.

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