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Ravers set to take over streets of Zurich

The "love mobiles" carry dancing techno fans through the streets of Zurich. Keystone / Team

The ninth annual Street Parade kicks off this Saturday in Zurich, with half a million techno and house music lovers expected to attend.

The theme of this year’s Street Parade is “Believe in Love”, and the organisers are describing the event, which has taken place every year since 1992, as a demonstration of “love, peace, freedom, generosity and tolerance”.

Thirty “love mobiles”, blasting out house and techno sounds, are expected to take part in the four kilometre parade, which will wind its way along the lake of Zurich, over five hours.

Revellers who attend this annual party are renowned for their bizarre and often scanty costumes. However, organisers say the event is becoming more family oriented as an ever increasing number of radio stations bring techno music into the mainstream.

The Street Parade is Switzerland’s biggest party, and it’s also the second largest techno parade after the Berlin Love Parade.

It began nine years ago with less than 1,000 people taking to the streets. Since then it has attracted ever more support from young people across Switzerland and Europe.

The event has also been given a stamp of approval by the city of Zurich, with the tourism board providing support and publicity for the event. “This sort of event helps us to create the kind of image we want for the city,” Zurich Tourism’s Robert Dietrich told swissinfo.

The success of the Street Parade, which last year attracted 550,000 ravers, has also drawn the attention of its Berlin rival, which has tried unsuccessfully to buy out the non-profit Zurich parade.

Not all the attention has been favourable, though. The Street Parade has come under attack in the past because of the association between the techno music scene and the drug ecstasy. However, the organisers say they are doing everything they can to clean up that image.

“We know drugs are taken but if we see anyone using drugs or selling them we’ll take them straight to the police,” said Street Parade spokesman, Stephan Epalli.

The parade’s colourful reputation has not prevented it from attracting major sponsorship for this year’s event, although alcohol and tobacco advertising has been banned.

One of the sponsors, Hans Martin Lütscher, managing director of Internet bookseller BOL.CH told swissinfo, “the sort of people taking part in Street Parade are the sort of people we want using our service”.

The organisers say they can’t help ravers, who want to dance on one of the 30 love mobiles taking part in the parade. They recommend that ravers who want to dance their way along the route on top of a float should approach the love mobile organisers individually at the start of the parade.

The festivities won’t end once the parade comes to a stop. Ravers will go on to one of 40 parties being held in and around Zurich on Saturday evening. These range from festivals attended by tens of thousands of revellers to smaller scale underground events.

This year’s Street Parade starts at 1515 at Zurich’s Mythenquai, ending at Hornbachstrasse at approximately 2030.

by Tom O’Brien

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR