While Berlin’s Love Parade no longer exists, the spirit of that infamous, raucous, big-hearted street gathering lives on in one of the most surprising places: middle-of-the-road Zurich. While Love Parade lacked the logistics expertise, Street Parade Zurich has perfected the science and the art of throwing a day-long musical parade with 30 love mobiles, 600 DJs or acts, and 7 stages for one million people.
A Celebration of Peace, Love, and Music
Inspired by a television report on the Berlin Love Parade, Zurich mathematics student Marek Krynski asked the city police authorities for the authorization to organize a “demonstration in support of love, peace, freedom, generosity and tolerance” in June, 1992.
Marek then went off to Berlin to learn the ropes at the Love Parade and was literally overwhelmed. Back in Zurich and full of enthusiasm, he managed to get the official go-ahead for the demonstration without too much trouble. The stage was now set for the first Zurich Street Parade.
In the course of an hour, you might meet people from a dozen different countries and, in some cases, find middle-aged parents enjoying the festivities along with their young adult children. Electronic music may be a way of expressing a political and lifestyle philosophy, but it’s also a great way of connecting with people you care about.
But, before we dive deeper into the Street Parade, let’s give a posthumous shout-out to the Love Parade which doesn’t live on our Fest300 list, although it should be in our Hall of Fame. The Love Parade as a popular event originated in 1989 in Berlin right around the time of the unification of East and West. It grew into the largest moving music festival in the world and led to similar Love Parade-like events happening in more than a dozen large cities around the world. One famous picture from the parade depicts people sitting and dancing on street lamps, trees, commercial signs and telephone booths, which gave the event the tagline, "the greatest amateur circus on earth." Unfortunately, the Love Parade was plagued by challenges with the local governmental authorities, a lack of funding, and some weak logistics planning. On July 24, 2010, a crowd rush at the Love Parade caused the death of 21 people, with at least 500 others injured. As a consequence of this, the organizers of the festival announced that no further Love Parades would be held and that the festival was permanently cancelled.
Enter: Street Parade
The Street Parade continued the Love Parade’s demonstration of freedom, generosity and tolerance. The world and the music have changed considerably since the first Street Parade in 1992. All the same, electronic music is more current than ever before and the Street Parade has taken over the mantel as arguably the most highly regarded street music festival in the world. Despite the tough demands it has to meet, the non-profit-making Street Parade Association has succeeded in retaining the basic concept – the "soul" – of the event and of the former techno movement. It is probably partly because of this that international star DJs still appear at the Street Parade free of charge.
A Beautiful Location
Lake Zurich provides the stunning backdrop for this street festival that started with just 1,000 participants and now has added a comma and three zeroes. Because the route is scenic on the lakeside, it does not interfere with local businesses (one of the big challenges with the Love Parade) and maybe because it’s in such a relaxed and lovely setting, there’s less litter or ugliness than you’d typically see at an event this size. This event couldn’t have grown into the size it is without attracting a very international crowd. Matthias Roeingh (aka Dr. Motte, who helped organize the original Love Parade) said, “Music knows no boundaries or nationalities,” and Street Parade is a great example of this principle as, in the course of an hour, you might meet people from a dozen different countries and, in some cases, find middle-aged parents enjoying the festivities along with their young adult children. Electronic music may be a way of expressing a political and lifestyle philosophy, but it’s also a great way of connecting with people you care about.