By: Amanda Sandström Bejier
Photos: Daniel Biskup
’To millions of ravers worldwide, it was the holiday of the techno movement, to others simply the party of their life, and the largest peace demonstration ever.’ - Rave the Planet.
The techno demonstration started out as a manifestation for peace through love and music and took place after an initiative from Matthias Roeingh, also known as Dr. Motte, and Danielle de Picciotto. The first one was held in West Berlin in July 1989 and grew tremendously year after year - from 1989 when only 150 people participated, to 1990 with 3,000 participants. It reached its peak in 1999 with 1.5 million participants.
Some say that this is what created the colorful cosmopolitan Berlin.
The Love Parade lost its demonstration status by court in 2001, caused by a counter-action of some ”haters”. In 2004 and 2005, the parade was cancelled because of its funding problems. As a result, the Love Parade almost went bankrupt which finally led to the sale of the brand.
After this Dr. Motte distanced himself from the parade. It moved from Berlin to the Ruhr area, and came to an abrupt ending in 2010 after what’s known as the ’Love Parade disaster’ when panic broke out in a congested tunnel which led to the death of 21 people. As a result of this the new owner, Rainer Schaller from the fitness chain McFit, decided to close down the parade.
Still, people are asking when the Love Parade will return and Dr. Motte is convinced that the city would need the energy of the demonstration in Berlin today. He is therefore fighting to bring it back, of course in a safe format and under a new label called „Rave The Planet“. We look back and talk about old times with him, as well as with photographer Daniel Biskup who documented the parade for ten years, from 1995 to 2005."
Take us back to the Love Parade - what was it like, what did it mean for Berlin?
"It was a Rave-olution. Everything was new and innovative. We invented the dance riot as a form of cultural manifestation of a new, growing youth culture formed around electronic music. It started in July 1989, and shortly after that came the fall of the wall. We, the creative people, could suddenly use many empty spaces in East Berlin. Just free rooms to experiment with and to create a completely new style of living."
"This was accompanied by a positive self-revolution, looking for what we actually wanted instead of following the entertainment industry. All we wanted was to dance with like-minded people to this new sound, and create our spaces and our world, together and forever. It was such a strong feeling of togetherness."
"Many people feel that Berlin and maybe the whole electronic music scene today, would have been completely different without the Love Parade. Some even say, that the parade helped Berlin and Germany, to finally overcome the bad image from the Nazi era and to be perceived as a new, colorful and cosmopolitan city, and even country."
"Contemporary Berlin is now a major magnet that attracts creative minds from all over the planet. And today in particular, it's time again to come together, to create a lobby to protect our culture."
What’s your greatest memories from the previous Love Parades?
"For most of the people who joined the rave culture and Love Parade it was very exciting because it was something we created ourselves that was just for us.
1991 was the first time we Berliners realized that we weren’t alone with our rave culture. Suddenly techno families from many other German cities, like Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich and many other cities, participated with their own floats, styles and artists. It felt like a big „hello “and a nationwide family reunion. It was so good to see that we were a growing, raving community sharing the same values: Peace, Love, Unity and Respect for everyone."
You are now fighting to bring back the parade, why does Berlin need it today?
"When if not now? There's a massive urge for getting together and strengthening the values, again. Just take a look around – there are so much weird and bad things going on and I’ve always been of the opinion that it is better to strengthen the good rather than fighting the bad."
"At ’Rave The Planet’ we're a bunch of enthusiasts, music lovers, dancers, artists, entrepreneurs and creators. We started this venture as a non-profit organization which is based on donations. We want to bring back the true spirit of the Love Parade and we want to support our electronic music culture. For example, we want to have it protected by UNESCO as an Intangible Heritage."
"Right now, as the clubs are closed since over one (!) year, we cannot come together and live and develop our culture. Since the pandemic appeared in Germany, there is almost no cultural activity at all. Our government doesn’t recognize our culture as an equal part in society. So, we have to stand together and show that we exist – and we must do it loudly if we are to be heard."
Will it be a copy of previous years, or do you plan on changing something for the next summer?
"First, we had the idea to just continue and show the contemporary electronic music culture in form of a techno parade. But we soon realized that this is not the way to do it. There were many things in the old Love Parade which no longer seem appropriate today."
"Sure, we will let the tradition and the culture live on, but we must include the contemporary themes as well, like sustainability, protection of the environment and so on. So no, it's not gonna be a copy-paste-thing but a process of re-modelling an old concept and transforming it into a forward-looking concept, together with the community while still always remaining true to our roots."
"We are a good part of the society we are living in and foster the good spirit of music and togetherness. This is what we did – and this is what we like to present. We are creative. We are friendly. We are a unique culture."
"If you like the idea, join us and if you can, make a donation for Rave The Planet. See you on 9 July 2022, on the streets of Berlin."
What was the Love Parade for you when you discovered it?
"I first heard about the Love Parade in the early 1990s. For Germany and Europe it was something very extraordinary and it attracted lots of young people. Techno also matched the lifestyle of the time. I can still remember that on my many travels through Eastern Europe I almost exclusively heard music by Westbam, Marusha, Paul van Dyk, Carl Cox. So, for Dr. Motte to register a demo for peace, joy and pancakes in 1989 was just awesome."
Why do you believe these kinds of events find their home in Berlin?
"A few months after the first Love Parade, the Berlin Wall fell. The reunification of the city was a great gift to the whole techno music scene. Many vacant buildings in East Berlin became legendary clubs that attracted people from all over the world. The reunified Berlin was wild, anarchistic, and a great playground for young adults. The clubs and the Love Parade became Berlin's biggest figurehead at that time."
You captured it for ten years starting 1995 - could you notice anything changing during those years?
"Of course, the Love Parade has changed over the years. If it was a party for a large circle of friends in the first two or three years, it changed suddenly from 1992 when 15,000 techno lovers danced on the Kudamm for the first time. Even then I wanted to be there, but as a photographer I was busy shooting the upheaval in Eastern Europe, especially in Russia and the former states of Yugoslavia, I always got in between the countries. It wasn't until 1995 that I was able to witness the parade in person for the first time."
"It has also changed over the years. Participants from the very beginning complained about the increasing commercialization, and of course, the loss of exclusivity."
"By 1997 at the latest, many large companies wanted to take part in it. In 1997, for example, MTV had its own floater and broadcasted live from the Love Parade with DJ Carl Cox, who was then voted the best DJ in the world."