Dance the Streets

Parading along Karl-Marx-Allee? The idea might leave a bad taste in the mouth if this was the 1980s and the parade involved a military show of force. 2015’s parade, however, is all about dancing through the city.

Sabine Knopp-Didlaukies#
image courtesy of  Sabine Knopp-Didlaukies, zugderliebe.org

“Peace, passion and pancakes” – the motto of the original Love Parade and the “inspiring” words directed at the parade’s crazy dancers by the man behind the spectacular event, Dr. Motte. More than a million party-goers danced their way through Berlin’s Tiergarten in 2006. Too big, too brash, too loud – the Love Parade doesn’t exist any more. But on the subject of brash: on the 40th anniversary of the country’s founding, an almost endless procession of workers and soldiers paraded in front of their leaders along Karl-Marx-Allee. Gorbachev, seated in the first row, looked bored out of his mind and even took a little nap. Time marches on – a truism that applies equally to both out-of-step politicians and drugged-up techno-freaks.

And so the old gives birth to the new. The very first channel on German television was launched with the “catchy” slogan: “We give you front row seats”. At Strausberger Platz on Karl-Marx-Allee, the view really is from the front row. Live and in full-color. Already this year the Berlin Marathon had its main base at Strausberger Platz. Runners started the marathon here, or ran past the square, or made use of the special tents to get in and out of their running gear. For those lucky enough to live around Strausberger Platz, there’s always something new and exciting going on. The other major event – the Beer Mile – is more of a love-it-or-hate-it experience. I’m not really a fan, but it does only last for three days in early August, so I can live with it. The Beer Mile started in 1997 and now offers more than 200 different types of beer, which is admittedly quite impressive.

There will probably be no shortage of beer at Berlin’s newest event. Berlin’s streets will be taken over by dancing crowds at the end of July. As far as I know, this will be the first time people have danced along Karl-Marx-Allee and around Strausberger Platz since the Wall came down (if you even count the GDR parades as people dancing). 2015 has seen a change in opinions as far as hosting a big parade is concerned: the parade’s organizers are neither controversial (unlike Dr. Motte) nor are they confrontational (unlike Erich H.). They are actually FOR something – an open Germany, sustainable urban development, multiculturalism and helping the country’s young people. When people stamp their feet at the new parade, which is called “Zug der Liebe” (“Parade of Love”), it’ll be because they are passionate about the music, out of anger. Isn’t that fantastic? And even better: The parade’s (preliminary) route will take it along Karl-Marx-Allee, between Petersburger Straße and Straße der Pariser Kommune, across Strausberger Platz and alongside the River Spree. Ten carnival floats will blast the parade’s revelers with music. “We don’t want to revive the Love Parade. This is a demonstration for more togetherness and tolerance,” explains Jens Hohmann, one of the parade’s organizers.

misterQM-photocase.de
image courtesy of misterQM, photocase.de

Strausberger Platz’s residents, not all of whom are lovers of contemporary music, won’t be affected for too long. And, as one of my neighbors, the lady in her seventies from the seventh floor, told me, “I love it, when the youngsters party.” She can certainly remember when things were very different: “It will be like this forever,” declared Erich Honnecker, the GDR’s Head of State, at the 40th anniversary parade. How wrong he was! The organizers of the “Zug der Liebe” have written: “Twenty-five years ago, after 40 years of separation, we were back in each other’s arms. Nobody had believed it would happen.” Reason enough to celebrate!