This past weekend 19 people were crushed to death at the Love Parade in Duisberg, Germany due to poor crowd control.
I hope the people responsible for the safety of the crowd face the full consequences of their actions and I also hope the organizers reconsider their plans of canceling further Love Parades because that in itself would also be a tragedy* — not because I care all that much for the latest incarnation of the parade but for the precedent it may set for future events of its kind.
There have been numerous such catastrophes at organized events around the world like soccer games in the UK and fireworks displays in Japan and those haven’t been canceled because of a few deaths, rather measures have been put into place to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again the next time the events take place.
That there is even the notion that an event like The Love Parade should be canceled henceforth is actually offensive to me because it smacks of bias against counter-culture and counter-cultural events and lifestyles.
The actual problem in most cases like this is neither the type of event nor the people attending but shortsighted organization, poor crowd control and, all too often, compassionless policing (though according to Der Spiegel the German Police Union did warn of the city’s inadequacy as a host of the event for years.)
I do think the decision to continue the party was wiser than stopping it and trying to tell 1.4 million to go home, a decision that could have lead to even more confusion and deaths and besides those who died probably would’ve wanted the party to go on anyway, I know I would.
As a person who spends a lot of time in nightclubs and event spaces in Tokyo this kind of news really freaks me out. I often feel that spaces here are blithely unaware of how dangerous they potentially are and after reading about the The Station Nightclub Fire you can color me absolutely paranoid about fire safety in clubs.
Believe it or not when I play at a venue I am not familiar with I always make a point of knowing where the exits are. There are a few clubs in Tokyo that down right scare the boogie out of me. They have poorly marked exits, blocked stairwells — drunk people sleeping it off until first train or furniture shoved on to fire escapes to make space for the crowd — and though local district fire brigades do come around every now and then have them clear up the place they slowly return to fire death traps as the months go by.
One famous Tokyo venue, which shall remain nameless, is so obviously a death trap I have on more than one occasion overheard punters pondering out loud how dangerous it is to be down in there.
While the rest of the civilized world is slowly stubbing cigarettes out of most entertainment spaces Tokyo is still smoking strong, and drunk people wielding fire sticks in a darkened venue with blocked stairwells and copious amounts of flammable liquids splashing around is a recipe for disaster in my eyes.
Not to mention Japan’s propensity for Earthquakes.
If you do find yourself in such a terrifying situation here are some tips on what to do if you are caught in a stampede in a night club.
My condolences to friends and family of the deceased, it needn’t have happened.
*this post has been edited for clarity a few times since the original went online