(Note: photographs of the Street Parade will be added later as they need to be scanned resp. re-photographed – bear with me please 😉 If you’d like to see more current pictures of the Street Parade, type “Street Parade Zürich” into your search engine 🙂 )
This Saturday one of the biggest parties of Switzerland will take place around the lake of Zürich: the Street Parade. It is an event I recommend everyone being near Zürich / Switzerland to attend, even if you’re not a fan of techno sound. There are so many different styles of electronic music and also lots of other music styles are added to the parade every time, like Latin etc. , that I’m sure there will be something there for every taste. But the experience of it only is well worth it!
I was lucky enough to run into the Amsterdam Gay Pride earlier this August by mere coincidence that I thought of writing a comparison between these two very memorable parades to share with you:
the AGP is the second biggest festival taking place in Amsterdam. It is a demonstration claiming more tolerance towards homosexual, bisexual, transgender, lesbian and transgender persons. That is the main theme of the parade. Lots of parties and festivities take place in and around Amsterdam, with the Canal Parade being the biggest attraction of these.
I’ve always only heard about the Christopher Day Parades or Gay Prides and kept wondering what it was like. When on our last vacation Me Man and I stumbled upon the AGP weekend, it was a perfect opportunity to attend the festival! I had seen pictures of the decorated boats in the canals and thought that looked amazing! So on the day we gathered up our things and slowly made our way towards the designated canals.
Already the night before you could see some festivities taking place and dressed up people having a ball at concerts and parties together. DJ’s set up tents and played their sound while followers danced in near proximity and, a bit further out, tourists or elderly locals had a meal or drink while watching the whole procedure. The day itself was the same – people from all countries, age groups and genders either sat around having a meal and watching the streets or walked around from DJ to DJ, danced on the streets, made their ways to the Prinsengracht, the canal where the Canal Parade would take place. People were smiling happily at each other and the atmosphere was great.
When we got to the Prinsengracht of course the whole border was packed with people, so were the bridges. The parade had started a few hours ago and you could barely get a glimpse at the decorated boats in the canal. I looked at the local citizens standing by their windows having the best sight at the parade, inviting friends over, having drinks, and watching from the balconies, windows, front stairs. Ah, how would I have wished to be able to join them – any of them! I tried to stretch myself to at least get a wee look at anything but it was just impossible. We kept walking for a good while before we found a spot where we could lean towards a wall across the street following the canal where it wasn’t that crowded. From there, you could see a bit more of the parade, a good part of the boats and even some of the water. I was much happier and we kept watching the parade from that spot.
Many boats were decorated with immense wedding cakes with freshly married homosexual / lesbian couples dancing on them, what a sight! People all around cheered at them and it was just fantastic to see them dressed up dancing on their cakes 🙂 Lots of confetti machines were used that spit out the most fantastic shapes of confetti – not only circles but butterflies, hearts, stars, birds, in all textures and colours. Many companies had an own boat with their respective members dancing on them – like the Netherland Post boat (dancing with parcels in their hands, that was so funny!), the firemen boat, the police boat… It was great to see them being so active and joining the parade as well, demonstrating for more tolerance and acceptance.
After a while we kept walking, and as the Parade was coming to an end, We were lucky enough to find a not so crowded bridge from where we could see much more than before. After two ladies left their spots we squeezed ourselves right into the hole and from that moment the Parade was just a true blast for me! We had a perfect overview of the ending place of the Parade and it was fantastic to wait and see what would come out next from under the bridge. Such a spot is worth getting up earlier and going to the Parade from early moments on.
After the last of the maybe 60 boats had passed, the canal was accessible to anyone again, and it was fun to watch all the spectators that had spent the day on their boat, prepared with picnics, sofas and even toilets (well – buckets they sat on with a shower curtain wrapped around them *lol* ). I was astonished to have seen so many boats participating as back home at the Street Parade we do have around 30 Love Mobiles every time, but sadly the whole thing was over at around 6pm already 😦 There were still DJ’s playing around in the streets or further activities taking place, but the main parade was over.
I am really happy I was lucky enough to run into the Amsterdam Gay Pride and be able to experience a Pride Parade – I can recommend it to anyone 🙂
Meanwhile there are many other Gay Prides (or “Christopher Day” Parades) taking place in the biggest cities all around the world, being the biggest demonstration of our planet.
Street Parade Zürich
I so remember being a wee teenager, watching VIVA (the German-spoken MTV so to say) on the telly streaming live images of the Love Parade in Berlin. As I was watching Marusha, one of the biggest She-DJ’s at the time, playing her set (not the commercial cute stuff, but the hard stuff she came up with afterwards), a seed was planted deep inside me thinking: one day, I’ll get there! One day I’ll travel to Berlin to experience that incredible looking party… Alas, I never made it to the Love Parade. A few years later though I was finally allowed to attend the Street Parade which takes place in Zürich, about 1,5 hours from where I grew up.
Boy, what an experience that was!!! Music was blaring from every corner of the streets. Back then, as soon as you got off the train you were greeted by the first DJ’s at the famous Mainstation party. I was intrigued by everybody, by their outfits, their dances, the sound, the place, the Love Mobiles… (Love Mobiles are usually theme-decorated trucks each one having a DJ and dancers on them, slowly making their way around the tip of the lake in Zürich). It was such an impressive festival that I decided to go dressed up the year afterwards. I remember sewing and decorating our outfits back then together with a friend, and so much looking forward to the big day!
Ever since, I’ve been to countless Street Parades, dressed up, not that much dressed up, in sunshine and rain, talked myself onto Love Mobiles or got there by buying a ticket. Watching from above (on the Love Mobiles) or from below, dancing with the happy crowd. Dancing during the day at the parade only, or going on to a festival afterwards. It has always been amazing!
To me, it has always been and stayed a demonstration for peace, love and tolerance (see more info below). Deep in my heart it will always be that reason that drives me to go there and celebrate with strangers and show the world that it is possible to bring together such a big crowd and have a party without fighting, without being nasty to each other, without drugs and drinks. I must say – only the sight of the masses of people and the Love Mobiles in between are worth experiencing, the smiles of everyone, the happiness spreading all over the place.
I deeply recommend this Parade to anyone visiting, it is a truly beautiful experience! A few years ago, thanks to facebook funnily enough, a Canadian friend whom I met in Ireland posted she was currently in Zürich. I couldn’t believe it! I asked her if she knew what was going on outside and she had no clue. I fixed up a meeting place and together we went to dance at the parade. It was afternoon already, and we just danced through until about 1am when the official ending of the street festivities were announced. I was so glad I could show her something really unique of Switzerland! She was so surprised and really enjoyed it 🙂
The Pro’s for each parade:
Amsterdam Gay Pride
- Lots of trash is left on the streets after the parade is over, of course, but not in such heaps as in Zürich. It was moderate, which I thought was very good and was a good sign for the behaviour of the people attending
- The decorated boats full of dancing people slowly making their way down the canal is a truly gorgeous sight!
- If you get a bridge spot – the view and experience of the parade is just spectacular!
- There are around 60 decorated boats going down the canal – twice as much as the usual 30 in Zürich, which makes it really nice and intriguing to wait and see how they are all decorated, what theme they follow and all
- The scenery around the canal is just gorgeous with all the narrow lined up typical Dutch houses ❤
- The demonstration is truly in the foreground – you see the demonstrants being well supported by the spectators wearing pink, whole families and all, which spreads a great overall feeling of good solidarity
- I have never seen confetti being used in so many different shapes and colours at any festival
Street Parade Zürich
- Even though masses of trash are left on the streets after the parade, the city is so well organised that the next morning you don’t see anything left anywhere anymore
- Being part of one of the biggest festivals in Europe is enough to make the experience memorable and fantastic!
- The scenery around it is quite spectacular – you’ve got the main bridge where the Love Mobiles pass the tip of the lake to get to the other side, you’ve got the big beautiful church with the two towers Grossmünster on one side, the tip of the lake filled with boats of dancing people on the other side
- With the Love Mobiles being big trucks, you have a good view from anywhere you stand, despite of how tall you might be. No need of stretching, shuffling for better view – no – it’s all right there in front of you, available to anyone
- You can try to talk yourself onto a Love Mobile – it would be rather more difficult to talk yourself onto a floating boat 😉
- If you like a particular Love Mobile, you can dance behind it and follow it for a while as you can always be in close proximity of the different trucks. (Be really and truly sure to protect your ears though!!!)
- I feel much more people come there to dance as the parade has developed more into a sort of festival instead of a demonstration
- The last Love Mobile turns off their sound at around 11pm with the start usually being 3.15pm – so lot’s of hours of dancing! Stages along the route still play live music until about 1am in the morning
Interesting facts that not many people know about the Street Parade:
- The very first Street Parade took place in 1992 and was officially a demonstration for love, peace, tolerance, freedom and liberality. Between 1000 – 2000 persons attended
- For many years after, it kept officially being more of a demonstration rather than a mere techno party. This was due to juristic reasons
- 2001 more than one million people attended the Street Parade, breaking the record of the Love Parade and thus being the biggest techno festival & demonstration in the world! (I keep insisting that the Street Parade got bigger than the mother Love Parade in Berlin, really not many people know that 😉 )