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Techno Fans Flock to Berlin Party

July 10, 1999

BERLIN (AP) _ Men in skirts and women in furry Day-Glo bikinis bounced Saturday to the techno throb of the Love Parade, the annual all-weekend rave billed as the world’s largest street party.

An estimated 1.4 million frolicked at what could be Berlin’s last celebration of the bass-heavy music. The event’s growing commercial success over the past 11 years has organizers and city officials dancing to different beats.

By the afternoon, a mass of young people packed the 3.8-mile boulevard that runs through the central Tiergarten Park. Crowds streamed under the Brandenburg Gate to the techno music _ mostly a computer-generated pulse of drum machines and synthesizers.

``What is normally forbidden, today is allowed,″ said Tobias Neher, 21, who wore a pastel skirt and a tight shirt for the occasion.

While more than 50 trucks carrying loudspeakers and DJs crept through the crowd of whirling dancers, the whistles that seemed to be in everyone’s mouth competed with the thumping bass.

``God is a DJ,″ read one banner on a float. Another, sponsored by a Berlin hospital, featured ``techo-nurses″ and ``cyber-doctors.″

Many revelers wore plastic daisies in their hair or on their clothes. Others sprayed water pistols to keep cool. As dancers heated up, clothes came off. Couples kissed enthusiastically for the TV cameras.

Given the scene, the planned filming of a pornographic movie during the event _ a Love Parade first _ was unlikely to be much of a distraction.

Since the Love Parade started in 1988, when a small group danced behind a VW van through then-West Berlin, the event has drawn increasingly large crowds _ to the dismay of environmentalists.

Dancers stomp the grass. Partyers leave behind tons of trash. The blaring music frightens birds, activists complain and revelers are often spotted urinating on trees, fences and anywhere else available.

The ever more popular event has brought profits to organizers and the city, and fighting over who gets the biggest share is why this might be the Love Parade’s last year in Berlin.

Organizers are upset over the city’s decision to award a beverage-selling contract to an independent firm _ meaning they can no longer make money off drinks. They’ve threatened to take their party elsewhere next year, possibly to Paris.

Organizers even want a take of the German railway’s increased business over the parade weekend, demanding as much as $270,000 this year.

Berlin officials are eager to keep the international attention and business the Love Parade brings, and talks with the organizers are expected to start Sunday on next year’s parade.

But to some ravers, the Love Parade wouldn’t be the same anywhere else.

Berlin ``is a part of the Love Parade,″ said Joachim Neher, 26 _ another guy in a skirt. ``It begins in Berlin and it ends in Berlin.″