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The Berlin Love Parade
The Berlin Love Parade has been described as the Mardi Gras of Germany. It is a festival that started in 1989, four months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The first year's theme, "Peace, Joy and Pancakes" echoed a time of intense change and excitement, with hope for a bright future.
Though many have looked at the Love Parade in recent years as a massive rave party with scantily-clad dancers lining the streets, it was really started as more than that - a political movement to bring a sense of unity to a divided country that was about to rise up again in the western world.
As 150 people gathered in Wittenbergplatz, the parade began in West Berlin and became a celebration of cross-cultural unity, while maintaining individual identity. Twenty-one years later, it is a mega-event that brings nearly 2 million participants. The individual identities they sought to preserve remain strong as visitors walk down the streets of the Kurfuerstendamm and hear musical genres from every walk of life, each one louder and more exciting than the one before.
Dancers and visitors to the Love Parade can dress however they like; lavish costumes add to the exhilaration and ambiance. Germans and visitors alike of all ages come and, though it's more racy than some traditional German festivities, its exciting for the whole family with floats and decorations and, of course, good ol' German Beer.
Although it was briefly canceled in 2003 due to the lack of sponsors, it was brought back by popular demand in 2006 and has now developed into a huge "the world's largest dance festival" with many different themes co-existing. Although it is no longer held in Berlin, it is now known simply as "Love Parade" and is held in different regions each year throughout Germany. Parties are even held in cities across the globe to celebrate Love Parade's theme and message of love, joy and hope, from Tel Aviv to San Francisco.
The 2010 Love Parade is scheduled to be held in Duisberg, Germany, on July 24th. Fans from every corner of the world will be packing their neon leggings as they anxiously await the start of the "World's Largest Dance Festival" to kick off once again this Summer.