Hundreds Hospitalized At Massive Techno Fest Featuring Carl Cox, Paul Van Dyk

Berlin's 12th annual Love Parade draws 1 million, but many lament carnival atmosphere.

BERLIN — One million techno fans came to the Tiergarten park Saturday for the 12th annual Love Parade, headlined by DJs including Carl Cox and Paul van Dyk.

According to local police, 194 people were arrested for drug dealing and theft, and more than 500 had to be taken to the hospital — an increase from 300 at last year's parade, which drew 1.7 million people. An 18-year-old woman died of a reported drug overdose on Sunday, and a 23-year-old man survived a stabbing during the parade, according to an Associated Press report.

For six hours, 53 floats — in the form of flatbed trucks stacked with gargantuan sound systems — rolled slowly through the park in central Berlin, booming hard techno and trance sounds as top international DJs, also including Sven Vath and Westbam, manned the turntables.

Unseasonably cold weather (in the 50s) the day of the event was blamed for the turnout at the parade, which was lower than the record-breaking number that helped make the 1999 Love Parade the world's largest dance-music festival.

From 100 To 1,000,000

Love Parade began in 1989 as a demonstration for world peace organized by Matthias Roeingh (better known as DJ Dr. Motte), with 100 people gathered around a tiny truck blasting a harsh and monotonous machine-made music called techno. In 1995 it moved from the crowded downtown boulevard called the Kurfurstendamm to its present route, down June 17 Street and through the middle of the Tiergarten.

Love Parade today is a multimillion-dollar enterprise. A survey conducted by a German market-research firm of 1,100 festivalgoers found that the average attendee spent 255 deutsche marks ($125) on the weekend, bringing an estimated total of 250 million deutsche marks ($125 million) into the city.

At the parade's grand finale — a giant dance party around the Siegessäule column at the center of the park, with all floats playing simultaneously — Dr. Motte delivered a speech centered on a theme he described as "Back to the roots, our world is sound."

Apart from being a DJ and producer, the 40-year-old originator and spiritual leader of Love Parade now is serving as a consultant at Planet.com, which owns the Love Parade trademark. Although the company still registers the parade as a political demonstration, it also licensed the trademark this year to Leeds, England, and Vienna, Austria, which held satellite Love Parades for the first time. Leeds' took place the same day, and Vienna's was held the previous Saturday (July 1).

UK icons Darren Emerson, Judge Jules, Sasha and Everything but the Girl's Ben Watt spun at an event reported to have drawn 300,000, according to BBC Online. Eighty DJs appeared on 17 floats and five stages.

Signs Of Dissent

In recent years, Planet.com has been heavily criticized by the press and techno-activists for its overly commercial approach to the parade, and environmentalists have complained about its careless attitude toward the Tiergarten, the city's central park.

This year, some dance-music fans in attendance were critical of the event, claiming it had lost its verve. Of more than 30 young people interviewed, virtually all expressed some form of discontent with Love Parade. Some said the event was becoming a carnival, with too many onlookers and not enough dancers, and others lamented the shift from its original community-oriented intentions.

In the nearby Mitte neighborhood, about 3,000 people gathered for the Fuck Parade to protest the commercialization of the Love Parade. A banner on one truck read "Dr. Motte Verotte" (Dr. Motte rot to pieces). About a dozen floats and trucks played hardcore gabba, drum & bass and other styles of electronic music not presented in the official parade.

The end of the day saw hundreds of thousands of people continuing the party in one of the city's many clubs, where Berliners mixed with out-of-towners.