1. Differentiation through Unification.

To gain a better understanding why the Love Parade was such a success in the 1990s, we have to look back at Germany in 1989/1990. The Berlin Wall cut off West Berlin from not only its other half of the city, but also the rest of Germany from 1961 until November 1989, when the wall finally fell1. The first small techno demonstration, that later turned into the Love Parade, took place only a few months prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall2. In 1990 Germany officially reunited on October 3rd¹. In the same year the Love Parade was themed The Future Is Ours‘ and drew approximately 2000 demonstrators from all over the country²,3.

Guy Debords ‘The Society of the Spectacle’4, which consists of 221 theses criticising our society, links to the idea of the Love Parade. To understand how this can be linked to an event in today’s society, we need to acknowledge what a spectacle5 is. As explained in the video, a spectacle can be understood as something that does not reflect the reality. So, how does this link to an event that was so real?

Debord claims that the spectacle “..appears at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification.” (§3)4 but “..the unity it imposes is merely the official language of generalized separation.” (§3)4. The Love Parade became a success because people unified to celebrate the reunion of Germany and their shared love for techno music, and thereby separated themselves from others. Debord continues to say that “separation is the alpha and omega of the spectacle” (§25)4 and that it “..is self-generated, and it makes up its own rules” (§25)4. The Love Parade was free of charge and took place in a public environment, accessible to everyone, for the first decade, due to its status of being a demonstration6. It went by its own rules, celebrated taboos and otherness², and through that created a unique festival for everyone that wanted to separate themselves from the masses. Pine and Gilmore7 identified the need for differentiation as part of today’s experience economy. It therefore might well be that the Love Parade fed the people exactly what they needed. Even though, or maybe because, Germany was reunited, the peoples’ need to be different and celebrate otherness grew and showed that Debord was right when saying “..division is presented as unity, and unity as division.” (§54)4.

1A&E TELEVISION NETWORKS, 2016. East and West Germany Reunite after 45 Years [online]. [viewed 28 October 2016]. Available from: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/east-and-west-germany-reunite-after-45-years

2MAYER, F., 2002.  Origins, commodification, and significance of Berlin’s Love Parade [online]. [viewed 28 October 2016]. Available from: http://www.grin.com/en/e-book/9037/origins-commodification-and-significance-of-berlin-s-love-parade

3BERLIN GUIDE, 2016. Love Parade [online]. [viewed 4 November 2016]. Available from: http://berlin.barwick.de/freetime-leisure/events/love-parade.html

4DEBORD, G., 1994. The Society of the Spectacle [online]. New York: Zone Books. Translation published by Donald Nicholson-Smith. [viewed 27 September 2016]. Available from: http://antiworld.se/project/references/texts/The_Society%20_Of%20_The%20_Spectacle.pdf

5ELLIS SOCIOLOGY, 2015. The Society of The Spectacle Chapter 1 Summary [online platform YouTube]. [viewed 6 November 2016]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDayTaQQvJc

6MCKAY, G., 2015. The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture [online]. USA: Bloomsbury Publishing. [viewed 04 November 2016]. Available from: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=iUfCBwAAQBAJ&dq=motto+of+love+parades&source=gbs_navlinks_s

7PINE, B. J., GILMORE, J. H., 1998. Welcome to the Experience Economy. Harvard Business Review [online]. [viewed 28 October 2016]. Available from: http://rushkolnik.ru/tw_files/4995/d-4994348/7z-docs/4.pdf