The Sherp looks back at how the mismanagement at the festival of Love Parade in 2010, caused the deaths of about 21 people and injured over 500 attendees.
A lot can go wrong at a music festival. Bad sound, expensive food and liquor, long waiting queues, and horrid company can be the rather frivolous aspects of it. But if the management itself were to fail you, then there is no coming back. The recent TomorrowWorld disaster is testament to the fact that if the festival were to be organised poorly, then there is no redeeming factor left to weigh in. That’s what happened to the Love Parade festival in Berlin in 2010 – an incident that caused the then two-decade long festival to shut its doors to the public.
Since its inception in 1989, the festival of Love Parade was synonymous with electronic dance music and free love in the country of Germany. The popular, free for all festival began as an initiative by Matthias Roeingh and his then girlfriend Danielle de Picciotto, members of the Berlin underground scene, as a parade for peace through love and music. It featured music from acts across the spectrum of electronic music, including genres such as trance, house and techno. Such was its popularity, that people flocked to it from all over the world, with its most-visited edition 2008, clocking in 1.6 million attendees. Because of the number of people visiting the festival and the parade, its location had to be changed from Berlin to a former freight station, which cause the 2010 disaster
The 2010 edition
Several things went wrong to cause the disaster that would shut down Love Parade forever.
The festival, because of the increasing crowd attendance, moved its area to a former freight station at Duisburg. The enclosed area had a total capacity of 250,000 people, despite the fact that the previous edition of the festival had attracted over a million attendees, a reality that could very well be expected. Since the festival is free and there was no way for them to estimate the number of attendees, one would have expected them to follow the examples of the editions that had passed, which they unfortunately did not.
A 240-metre tunnel from the east made up to be the only entry point of the festival, while a series of underpasses from the west made for the only exit. Because of overcrowding, the police did block off the entry after sometime and asked the new entrants to go back, but many chose to enter the festival from its rear end.
But by then, about 500,000 people did gather around the entry point, unable to move forward or go back, as the entry gates had been shut. This began to cause a commotion, as a mosh pit began to be formed, with a few people entering from the rear end, even as many tried to exit the festival. The fact that several attendees were under the influence of drugs and alcohol wasn’t helping matters, as because of the chaos, many people began to get dehydrated. Because of the ensuing struggle, several took the fall, and became unconscious. A few tried to escape from a barrier next to the tunnel, some of who fell many feet down causing themselves spinal damage.
As the area began to be cleared out, ambulances were called in to resuscitate people who had become unconscious, even as many people were found dead because of crushed ribs. A total of 21 people were found dead, of which there were 13 women and 8 men, even as more than 500 people were injured.
The Mayor of Duisburg Mayor Adolf Sauerland called the event “one of the biggest tragedies the city has ever experienced.”
Because of the disastrous event, the decision was made to shut down the festival entirely. Organiser, Rainee Schaller had this to say about the incident –
“The Love Parade has always been a joyful and peaceful party, but in future would always be overshadowed by yesterday’s events”
But despite the incident, none of the organisers were ready to take the blame for the mishap. A blame game ensued with Schaller accusing the police and the police accusing his poor foresight. A rally was staged blaming Duisburg Mayor Adolf Sauerland for many rally-men believed him to hold knowledge of the poor organisation. Due to threats on his life, Sauerland had to be placed under police protection.
An official documentary was made to archive the disaster that happened, from footage shot by people from the event and eye witness testimonials. A documentary that is a visual reminder of a sad day in Germany’s musical history.