Thank F*ck for FuPa!


Before heading out to F*ck Parade last Saturday, I saw a tweet that described the streetparty-demonstration as being 'anti-everything'.  I don't think that's necessarily true.  

It's true that FuPa (as it's also known) was founded in 1997 as an antidote to the Love Parade; as a way for Berlin's underground ravers to extend a middle finger at the hyper-commercial parade that had branded their city.  It's true that the Fuck Parade sometimes attracts a few macho types who think that it's an excuse to barge through dense crowds, instead of dancing.  And it's true that the parade's political message usually consists of a series of banners with words like 'Tourismuscheizze' and 'Gentrification' crossed out on them.  But I think that the Fuck Parade pulls loads of people to Berlin year after year because of what it stands for, not because of what it stands against.  

It stands for the no-frills unity that can only happen when you trawl a line of sound systems through a densely-populated area, pumping out repetitive techno beats that can be heard from miles away, through doors, windows, walls and cement.  

It stands for turning an entire city into a dancefloor.  Forget about queuing up or dressing up: if you can hear it, you can dance to it.  It doesn't get much more egalitarian than that.  

It stands for grabbing people - who are either off their heads and dancing, or scratching their heads and wondering what the hell just hit them - and pulling them into the public spotlight.  It is for encouraging them to do whatever they want under the cover of musical mayhem, without fear or ridicule.  

It is for shattering the silence of all the newly-finished luxury blocks that dot the city's streets, forbidding to the average Berliner despite being nearly empty.     

It stands for giving a venue to underground scenes that cannot afford to put on a flashy club night; that are too edgy to be sponsored by a big brand name.  And it's for doing that right in the middle of Berlin every single year.  Every year, more of the hardcore faithful from around Germany and Europe come here to take advantage of it.  

We ended the night dancing to bassy, bouncy techno pulsing out of a van backed up against a graffiti covered, abandoned train platform in one of those last surviving parts of old Berlin; a badland of eroded grass.  It was bordered by the chrysalis of an emerging, modernized Ostkreuz station on one side, and by blocks of million-Euro flats housed in renovated GDR blocks on the other... a nameless, faceless, in-between zone that exists just to be lived in and used, not branded and admired from a remote distance.  That's the Berlin of the F*ck Parade and all its followers.  And like that strip of badlands where the parade ended, that Berlin is being eroded away a bit at a time, year after year.  FuPa's annual occupation of those kinds of spaces keeps them open for the public.  Whether you like their music or not, it's hard not to agree with that spirit. 

But I loved the music, along with several thousand other people. 

As I was leaving the parade, I don't remember thinking, 'Thank god I didn't dress up / pay too much money / around stand on the sidelines'.  I only remember thinking about the people who I did laugh with... talk to... dance beside.  I thought about all the one-off scenarios that were born on the streets as the parade passed through them, that would be stillborn without free events like this one.  I thought about that guy moving an armchair down the street while a crowd of ravers surged fluidly around him... the white haired residents smiling at us from their balconies... the endless re-combinations of cheap booze, strange props, masks, hats, idealistic T-shirt slogans and extreme music, every which way I looked...

...and then I thought, 'Thank f*ck for the F*ck Parade!'  It might be anti-all the things that are making Berlin a more restrictive place but if you think about it, that only means that it's pro-freedom. 

A 2011 view of Kynaststrasse in Rummelsburg, where the parade ended.


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