Love Parade Feels The Hate

Annual dance-music bonanza facing opposition from local environmental activists.

Berlin's annual Love Parade is facing a burgeoning hate faction again this year.

In an attempt to block the world-renowned celebration of peace, love and techno, a group of environmentalists calling themselves Save the Tiergarten has registered an event permit for the large public park that has served as the parade site for the past five years. By refusing a permit to Love Parade organizers at a press conference on Wednesday (April 4), Berlin's Authority for Public Assembly has left the party temporarily homeless, although the chance of its cancellation is highly unlikely, local sources said.

The celebration, scheduled for July 14, is in its 13th year. As in recent years, organizers expect to attract more than 1 million revelers, who would contribute close to $100 million to Berlin's tourist revenues.

Founded in 1989 as a demonstration for world peace and unity, Love Parade now attracts scores of world-class DJs and dance-music lovers from all corners of the globe to what has grown into a week-long, citywide extravaganza. Past events have boasted such stars as Paul Van Dyk, Carl Cox and Paul Oakenfold DJing on a caravan of some 50 flatbed trucks that moves slowly through the massive, colorful crowd of onlookers.

Angered by the damage Love Parade's sometimes reckless throngs have inflicted on the Tiergarten — Berlin's largest public park — the 11-member Save the Tiergarten group secured a permit earlier this year to pre-empt the party and therefore any ensuing destruction that would be done to the park. Since 1996, the park's bisecting road, June 17 Street, has served as the caravan's main route, culminating in a giant dance party at its terminus, the Siegessäule column.

"We regret the recent developments concerning the Love Parade date this year and are working very hard to find the best and most harmonious solution to the current situation," the event's organizers said in a letter to subscribers of the event's official Web site (www.loveparade.net).

A note on the site said that alternate routes are being explored.

Save the Tiergarten members could not be reached for comment, but sources close to the Parade are confident the two sides will reach an agreement on the matter. Even its supporters agree that Love Parade inflicts undue damage on the park, but they also say the show must go on.

"That's what it's about; it's a demonstration for peace," said Marc Snow, label manager of Tresor, the iconic Berlin techno record company and nightclub that hosts a marathon party coinciding with Love Parade.

Previously, similar groups have staged opposition events, including one last year called F--- Parade, but none has come close to derailing the juggernaut of Love Parade, which has grown steadily every year since its outset.

"In years past, they've always been able to reach some decent, peaceful resolution," Snow said.

According to Berlin newspapers, Tiergarten has also been booked for the weeks preceding and following the Parade's scheduled date of July 14.

Regardless of Love Parade's fate this year, English station BBC Radio 1's offshoot in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England, is moving forward with its July 21 party. Last year marked the first time the parade sprouted sister events in other cities, with successful parties going off in Leeds, England, and Vienna, Austria.