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Wet ravers groove to hot rhythms in Zurich

The wet weather didn't stop scantily-clad ravers from taking to the streets of Zurich Keystone

Despite heavy rain and cool temperatures, hundreds of thousands of people turned out on Saturday for the 2002 Zurich Street Parade.

This content was published on August 10, 2002 - 22:36

Heavy clouds may have darkened the skies over Zurich for the city's annual techno festival, but they couldn't dampen partygoers' spirits.

Vibrant and outlandish costumes brought a welcome splash of colour to an otherwise grey and wet day.

"I'm not worried about the cold, because I have the heat inside me," one scantily-clad raver told swissinfo.

Dodging umbrellas and seeking shelter under storefront awnings, most of the estimated 650,000-strong crowd didn't seem to notice the miserable conditions.

While there were plenty of bare shoulders and legs, other participants tried to stay dry by covering up their extravagant rave gear with see-through plastic.

"We've come all this way, we're determined to have a good time," said one disappointed-looking couple from Germany. Huddled together under their umbrella, they added that the music and "good vibes" had made the journey worthwhile.

Some of the partygoers were more determined than others at having a good time though. Police arrested 17 men for selling drugs, and seized 90 ecstasy pills and 100 grammes of marijuana throughout the day.

A 27-year-old German also died of a drug overdose early on Sunday according to Zurich city police, after being taken ill at one of the parties that followed the Street Parade.

Fewer Swiss

Now in its eleventh year, the Zurich Street Parade has grown to become one of the largest techno events in the world, rivalling Berlin's famous Love Parade.

Though there were never any signs that this year's crowd would match last year's record one million turnout, organisers said they were satisfied with the way the event had gone.

Street Parade staff member, Sven Birag, told swissinfo that the bad weather had kept many Swiss away, but that "a lot of people from neighbouring countries like Austria and Germany did show up".

This year's event was the coldest Street Parade on record, with temperatures throughout the windswept afternoon hovering around the 17 degree mark.

The Street Parade followed its traditional 2.8-kilometre route along the shores of Lake Zurich, with 29 "love mobiles" - or decorated floats - pumping out electronic music and sparking a six-hour dance party.

Peace!

The theme of this year's parade was peace. According to the organisers, they wanted the event to show that "love, peace and tolerance are not merely empty platitudes."

"It's all about everyone having fun and the enjoyment of the individual being transmitted to the crowds as a whole."

And the fun didn't end with the parade. Following six hours of heavy partying, revellers had the opportunity to extend the afternoon celebration long into the night at unofficial raves and smaller-scale underground events across the city.

The Zurich Street Parade took place one week after the Geneva Lake Parade, which managed to attract 300,000 techno fans despite heavy rain.

Carnival fever

This year, a Brazilian delegation, headed by Ana Maria Maja - the sister and personal assistant of the mayor of Rio - was in the Swiss city to monitor the festivities.

The visit was part of a reciprocal agreement with the world's largest street party that will see a techno team from Zurich wing its way to Rio in January 2003 to take part in the carnival.

To cope with the hundreds of thousands of ravers who travelled to Zurich, the Swiss Federal Railways laid on 150 extra trains, which continued to ferry exhausted revellers home long into the night.

by Billi Bierling and Anna Nelson in Zurich

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