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  • Loveparade: A history of Berlin’s legendary techno-demo in photos.

Rave the Planet

Loveparade: A history of Berlin’s legendary techno-demo in photos.

A journey through the history of Rave the Planet's predecessor, Loveparade, the first ever techno-demo.

Photo: IMAGO / Müller-Stauffenberg

As you’ll see from our upcoming events guide, July 8th sees the return of Rave the Planet, a party-demo with an illustrious history. Its predecessor was the (in)famous Loveparade, started in 1989 before the fall of the wall by Dr. Motte, a Berlin DJ and musician. This first ever techno parade marched with the slogan ‘Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen’ (Peace, Joy, Pancakes), standing for disarmament, music and fair food production and distribution. In its first year, 150 people took part in the demo along Ku’damm, but with the years and its growing popularity it moved to Straße des 17. Juni to accommodate the over one million attendees in the years 1997 to 2000. 

Join us on a photographic time-travelling journey through the history of Loveparade. Maybe you’ll get some outfit inspiration for next week.

1989 – 1996

Success comes quickly

Loveparade 1992. Photo: IMAGO / Schneider

When it came to style at Loveparade, it was anything goes. Colourful hair was a staple, like in this picture from 1992. After three years of exponential growth – 150 people in 1989, 2000 people in 1990, 6000 people in 1991 – the demo was attended by over 10,000 in 1992.

Loveparade 1993. Photo: IMAGO / Pemax

Over 30,000 people attended Loveparade’s fifth birthday in 1993. Bright colours, lots of skin, giant flowers – this look would do nicely for 2023 as well in our opinion. 

Loveparade 1994. Photo: IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image

In 1994 the demonstrators were still dancing under the leadership of a loose collective. It wasn’t until the following year that an association was founded to take care of all of the organisation.

Loveparade 1995. Photo: IMAGO / Rüttimann

Climbing street lights, trees, road signs, phone boxes, bus stops – you name it – was a popular activity at Loveparade which gained it the nickname ‘the greatest amateur circus on earth’.

1997 – 2003

A million people at the Victory Column

Photo: IMAGO / Schneider

Loveparade outgrew Ku’damm and in 1997 moved to Straße des 17. Juni. This legendary image resonated around the world and secured Berlin’s reputation as planet Earth’s party capital. It was the first year that the number of attendees topped one million.

Photo: IMAGO / Future Image

People, people and more people. From Charlottenburg to the Brandenburg Gate ravers celebrated with the slogan ‘Let the Sunshine In Your Heart’. It’s difficult to represent how crowded it was during the parade’s heyday, even by comparison with large demos today. 

Photo: IMAGO / Heerde

But with success came problems. After the demos on Ku’damm became too big and the move to the Victory Column, Tiergarten became a urinal for the hundreds of thousands of ravers. Complaints about rubbish, public sex and drug use mounted. The huge amounts of rubbish did indeed become a problem.

Photo: IMAGO / Müller-Stauffenberg

Frosted tips, space buns, glitter. The 90s was a wild time for fashion, and many of those trends are making a comeback. Your granny was right when she said if you keep things for long enough they come back into style.

Photo: IMAGO / Müller-Stauffenberg

Of course the birthday suit never goes out of style.

Photo: IMAGO / Rüttimann

Loveparade survived the turn of the millennium and (luckily for us) the prophesied Y2K bug didn’t crash the organiser’s computers. There are no limits when choosing your outfit, but we do question the sense of taking live animals into the techno jungle. Best leave your pets at home folks. 

Photo: IMAGO / Müller-Stauffenberg

Every year the floats became more and more elaborate, such as this one from 2001 when the demo marched under the slogan ‘Join the Love Republic’.

Photo: IMAGO / Müller-Stauffenberg

Is this picture from 2001 or 2022? Leather really is just a timeless classic.

Photo: IMAGO / Wagner

Sex, drugs and rubbish – criticism of the event mounts

Free love and sex were always an important topic at the Loveparade, presumably much to the annoyance of the dog walkers in Tiergarten when they came across ravers in the throes of passion. 

Photo: IMAGO / Eisend

By the early 2000s Loveparade had lost its status as a demonstration. Under German law the state has to pay for security and clean up during and after political demonstrations, but in the case of a commercial event, the organiser has to cover these expenses. For a huge event like Loveparade the costs for this were high, up to about €400,000. As a result, Berlin’s Loveparade came to an end in 2003 and the organisation changed hands. The event moved to the Ruhr area in the east of Germany to a city called Duisburg.

2003 – 2010

There was a once off Berlin revival of the demo in 2006 with the sponsorship of the exercise studio McFit, but the following year the Senate of Berlin didn’t issue the necessary permits in time, and so Loveparade officially moved to the Ruhr area for the next five years. 

Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Ritter

Disaster strikes

In 2010 Loveparade was struck by tragedy when 21 people were killed and over 600 injured during the event, when too many attendees crowded a ramp from a tunnel into the festival, causing a mass panic. Safety experts had warned before the event that the site was not suitable for the expected number of people. The organisers blamed the police who were controlling the flow of people into the site, and the ministry of the interior blamed the organisers. 

Following the 2010 disaster in Duisburg, the organisers declared an end to the festival in this official statement: “The Love Parade has always been a peaceful party, but it will forever be overshadowed by the accident, so out of respect for the victims the Love Parade will never take place again”.

2022 – today

Rave the Planet 2022, IMAGO / Bernd Elmenthaler

Rave the Planet

On 9 July 2022, Loveparade founder Dr. Motte took part in the Rave the Planet Parade, calling for Berlin’s electronic music culture to be categorised as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. It’s the spiritual offspring of Loveparade, the mother of all techno parades. 

So when you put on your lycra, leather or glitter next Saturday, maybe give a thought for Rave the Planet’s predecessor, and celebrate the fact that we’re all able to dance the streets of Berlin together again. Peace, Joy, Pancakes.  

This article has been adapted from the German by Poppy Smallwood.