Love Parade 2007: new location, same good feeling.

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Lovers of the pink lolly-pop that is Love Parade have had to quench their appetites for the past two years. But 2007 has seen the joyous return of the ravers and the revellers, albeit in the new location of downtown Essen.

The Parade is a mass social event spawned from the underground dance/rave era of the late eighties and early nineties. Originally conceived by DJ 'Dr. Motte' in 1989, it had been celebrated in Berlin with growing enthusiasm until 2005. Would the shift from its birthplace in Berlin – a city synonymous with a hedonistic culture – still make it throb so vibrantly in the relatively dour confines of the Ruhr's capital of coal?

The plans were extensive; more than a million fans were expected to descend upon the inner city of Essen creating one huge party zone. At 2 p.m. the ravers enthusiastically celebrated the start of the Love Parade procession, 27 elaborate floats moving along a 2.5 kilometre circuit. The city centre of Essen then filled with people turning it into an electro dance floor pulsating with music.

A central stage on the Berliner Platz provided the focus for festivities, and it was here that sound specialists Crystal Sound from Karlsruhe concentrated their efforts. "The real challenge was to cover the entire Berliner Platz without infringing on the sound level restrictions imposed by the municipality of Essen," said sound designer Frank Vogelsang of Lopa. Crystal Sound's project supervisor Michael Rabold was more specific. "We needed to create an even and adequate sound image across the whole listening area. The relevant measuring point for noise pollution lay within a nearby residential area, barely 90 metres beyond the boundaries of Berliner Platz. The permitted equivalent sound pressure level at this point was 85 dBA (Slow), which amounted to a maximum level of 92.6 dBA at the FoH position."

Vogelsang and Rabold between them determined a system design using a d&b J-Series system, rigged as high as possible, would provide the best direct field down onto the revellers with the minimum of spill escaping into the residential zones. That, and the use of cardioid J-SUBs provided a controlled audio environment, even down into the lower frequencies.

Over 100 D12 amplifiers were subordinated to d&b's Rope (V3.0) remote network control software, giving full control over delay and level, and providing a fast response should the many guest DJ's programme sources prove excessive.

Was it successful? With the sun beaming down, a total 1.2 million fans from all age groups enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere in the pedestrian zone. Even the police talked about a "peaceful party atmosphere". And there were no complaints.

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