Love Parade and the disaster Germany would rather forget

The final Love Parade ever took place on 24th July 2010, having become a fixture on the streets of Germany for most years since 1989. Only 150 people attended the first event – and by 2010, attendance for the festival had grown to at least 400,000, according to police figures at the time.

But in 2010, organiser Rainer Schaller had to declare “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”. The reason? A crowd crush led to the deaths of 21 people that day, with at least 500 reporting injuries.

In what was to become the event’s final year, they decided to hold it within a closed area in the city of Duisburg – a strategy which safety experts claimed was unsafe, even before the event happened. An attendance of 250,000 was expected – the real figure who turned up can’t be verified, but was understood to be at least 400,000 and could have potentially being over one million.

After police tried to prevent more people from entering the event due to it already being over capacity, thousands of people entered a nearby tunnel to try and gain access anyway. The result was this route quickly became a bottleneck with people unable to get in or out – and panic ensued.

In total, 21 people were crushed to death amidst the chaos. Eyewitnesses told harrowing accounts of what they saw – one woman in the tunnel of death said “I will never forget the sight. There were all these twisted-up bodies of those who had been crushed. They were lying at the tunnel exit. Their faces had all turned blue.”.

Subsequent autopsies on all the dead confirmed the horrible truth – every single person who perished had crushed rib cages, putting an end to speculation some of them actually falling off a staircase whilst trying to escape. So how the hell was this allowed to happen?

The answer appears to be money – according to Der Spiegel, Duisburg authorities had carried out a study ahead of the festival and concluded multiple routes in and out were essential. Love Parade organisers rejected the advice, apparently on the grounds this would have meant deploying more police officers – which Love Parade would have had to pay for.

Charges were brought against ten festival organisers and city employees in 2017. After 183 days in court, the entire case was dismissed entirely in May 2020 – with the families of the 21 who died denied justice thanks to a combination of bureaucracy and incompetence.

The event now took place twelve years ago. Yet you will not find one single word in the dance music press about it. This is especially mysterious in the case of Resident Advisor, whose editor is based in Berlin and seems determined to increase her website’s coverage of the city and country’s club scene.

There have also been no words whatsoever said by anyone who was there – DJs such as Fedde Le Grand, Mark Knight, Tïesto, David Guetta and Westbam were on the lineup that day. Ears To The House understands, however, that several of the DJs were told to continue their sets as normal – even as news was filtering through of a crowd crush.

Why was this? Police had advised Love Parade organisers it was safer for the remainder of the festival to continue as planned – something which Toolroom boss Mark Knight acknowledged at the time, although what isn’t so clear is exactly how much he and his fellow DJs knew when they were heading on stage to play.

It seems beyond strange to us that this tragedy is not given more attention in the dance music press. Or are they going to wait until the next tragedy strikes and simply feign surprise?

Ears To The House Team

The team account for Ears To The House.

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