Ever since 1989, the Love Parade has been an institution for the Techno-loving world (of which I’m not a part, neither was I ever). It left Berlin, where it was celebrated from the very beginning, in 2007. This year, it was supposed to be held in Duisburg. And next year, for all that is known at the moment, there will be none at all. Because this year, for the first time ever, people have died or be injured at the Love Parade.
The result of this year’s Love Parade was dramatic: 20 people died and well over 500 were injured, some of them quite severely. The reason for this was not the Parade as a such, it was the planning and preparation done by the city of Duisburg. Duisburg has somewhat around 500,000 inhabitants. That’s a lot more than my hometown (around 44,000), but still a lot less than the number of people expected at the Parade. Slow estimates were at 1,300,000 people, possibly more. For that many people, partying somewhere, a huge area is necessary. And where that many people are at once, there should be a lot of emergency exits around.
This is exactly where the city of Duisburg failed, resulting in 20 people trampled to death. For the whole Parade, there was only one (!) entrance/exit to the whole area. And this entrance was a tunnel – a place where you can’t get away quickly in a huge mass of people. The police erected fences around the area designated for the Love Parade (which was not going to be a parade as a such), they even stopped people from climbing those fences when everything became crowded.
When they finally realized which catastrophe had occurred, it already was too late and it took far too long to get all those people out who were trapped in the tunnel. And now, nobody wants to be the scapegoat. It wasn’t foreseeable, they argue. There was enough space – in theory –, they say. But a simple thought of a simple person with no job as a consultant in such matters (in other words: me) runs like this: over one million people in an area – that’s a lot of them –; you better keep open a lot of ways out for them; tunnels are a mightily bad idea as an entrance or exit; and a city should hold at least as many citizens as there will be guests around.
By now it looks as if there won’t be another Love Parade – too bad, because this way everyone will only remember the tragedy, not the many years during which it was a demonstration (as a such, the first one was labelled) for fun, peace and happiness, three things mankind can never have too much of.