10,000 party at Berlin's Love Train

Participants at the Love Train festival in Berlin last Saturday.
Participants at the Love Train festival in Berlin last Saturday.PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN • Thousands of people danced their hearts out at Berlin's techno Love Train festival last Saturday, the first such street event since 21 revellers died in an accident at the legendary Love Parade five years ago.

The Love Train festival, called Zug der Liebe in German, featured 14 trucks loaded with massive speakers blasting electronic music as they inched their way through the sunny city on a 10km route.

According to police figures, 10,000 people attended the party.

Banners pinned onto the trucks appealed for "tolerance not hate" and "love without borders", though other slogans were more political.

One expressed solidarity with refugees, in reference to the thousands of people fleeing war and poverty and risking their lives to reach Europe by boat.

Another called on the European Union to reject a draft free trade agreement with the United States.

Love Train organisers see the event as a political demonstration rather than a festival, rekindling the original spirit of the Love Parade, which was held for the first time in 1989 on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

As the Cold War neared its end in the then-divided city, 150 people came together to dance while calling for peace, disarmament and pancakes to end world hunger.

But, by 1999, the event had swollen into a 1.5 million-reveller affair, and the German authorities refused to continue classifying it as a demonstration, making organisers responsible for cleaning and security costs.

The Love Parade concept was then bought from its founders and relocated to Duisburg in western Germany, where a massive stampede inside a concrete tunnel in 2010 killed 21 people and injured 500 others, bringing an end to the annual rave.

A ceremony was held last Friday in Duisburg to remember the victims of the tragedy, provoked when 1.4 million people converged on a site with a capacity of just 250,000. The Love Parade came to an end with the accident and Love Train organisers are keen to distance their event from it.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline '10,000 party at Berlin's Love Train'. Print Edition | Subscribe