From: Emilio Gonzalez 
Subject: 7.11.00 - 15:30 - berlin, germany

(yesterday was the two month mark of me being in europe) 

i came back to berlin - more than happy to, actually. primarily i came back to
see sarah again and secondarily (but really just a hair behind the first) to go
to love parade and surrounding activities.

i met up with sarah and her choir friends on friday afternoon after returning to
berlin from sweden on the overnight train. we hung out at the hotel until we went
out to one of the pre-love parade outdoor parties, held in a plaza in downtown
berlin. the plaza was an excellent choice of venue, as it lies right next to a
bombed church, it's illuminated tower going up into the night sky, only to end in
the jagged edge of war. so we hung out there, where there were people dancing and
milling around to the djs, amongst the beer and food stands. completely randomly,
we ran into a couple of backpackers, dan and josh, who live in fremont, maybe 20
minutes away from san jose. they're pretty groovy guys and we ended up hanging
out with them for the night and the next couple days. the party was fun, lots of
people, and we had a good time there - including josh, who climbed on a fountain
and mooned us all, and chloe, who had all her makeup sucked off by a german guy.
see? told you it was fun. 

sarah, chloe and a couple of their choir friends left the next morning for a day
and a half in amsterdam before flying back to san jose. i was hoping to spend
more time with sarah, but i guess mick jagger was right. i suppose i try
sometimes, though. 

friday night, however, was a small, intimate backyard barbecue at a friend's
house in comparison to the next couple of days. let's meet the players:
*brian - one of the choir guys, staying to party for love parade. *misha - ditto.
looks a lot like alien8, if you know him, right down to the blue hair
*josh - one of the freemonters
*dan - ditto
we all split a  double hotel room not far on the subway from the

saturday afternoon was love parade itself, with central berlin runneth over with
partiers from every walk of life - half of the world's countries must have been
represented (at the minimum). it's hard to describe such a massive event, but i
suppose i have to try.

just stepping off into the station was madness, with dj's spinning, people
dancing, tshirts and party gear being sold and people in wild clothes. this was
still just the station, pouring out masses of people taking up the entire street
on their way to the parade. the route was down a long, historic street running
through the huge park in central berlin and then looping back. one of the first
things we noticed was the distinct lack of police. there were a few vans a block
from where the parade began, and maybe a few other vans parked just off of the
parade route at a couple of points. only a few times did i see berlin polizei
walking around, and even then it would only be two or three officers looking like
they were enjoying themselve. reading an article after the fact, it was reported
that out of 1,300,000 people attending, there were only 200 arrests - incredible,
in the usa we have twice that for a third the people. 

the parade was madness. delicious madness, the kind you love, because it's
virtually harmless (well, depending on who you ask and how long of a stick they
have up their ass). the floats were amazing, elaborately decorated semi trucks
with massive sound systems bumping dj's hard, with all sorts of beautiful people
dancing, many in costumes from the elaborate to the erotic. but the costumes and
the beautiful people didn't stop there, not by any means (bah! especially not the
beautiful women!) - everyone was having a good time, walking and dancing in the
street to the passing music, with people sporting their finest clubwear and
costumes. incredibly cute girls dressed identically, drag queens, leather
fetishists, painted bodies - lots of clothes, little clothes, next to no clothes,
bodies beautiful and beautiful in their own right.

it was packed, this long stretch of a broad boulevard solid from end to end with
people and floats. amazingly enough, we managed to keep five people together
throughout the entire thing, perhaps only seperated at the most for a minute or
so. of course, brian's red hair and misha's blue hair helped out a lot, no doubt.

(bah. someone stole my sunglasses. they looked so good, too.) 

after wading through the parade for several hours - it took us perhaps two hours
just to reach the halfway point - we turned around and waded back and returned to
the hotel to rest a bit and get ready for the evening. after mulling over our
club choices, seeing as every tom, dick and hans in berlin with turntables and a
sound system was throwing a party, we chose tresor, said to be one of the top
clubs in berlin and right by potsdamer platz, in the heart of berlin's
construction. tresor, as i later found out, means "vault," apparetnly called so
because it was formerly a nazi gold depository. i really hope the irony and the
beauty of this isn't lost on anyone. outside there was a large stage and
dancefloor along with food stands and refeshments, plus places to kick back and
get off your feet. inside, on the ground floor, was the globus room, with
dancefloor, bar, and dj's spinning the latest (and thankfully non-cheesy) house
music. in the basement was the vault itself, a room acessable by foot thick
doors, thankfully secured open. half of the vault was a bar and half, seperated
by bars, was the dancefloor with hard house and trance. it's a great club,
reflecting all the grittiness and energy that posesses berlin.

the vault was insanity, the kind you plunge into. it was hot - when you pass
through the vault doors themselves, you're greeted by a wall of heat, and in one
minutes you're covered in sweat. the only lights on the dancefloor are strobes
and colored theater lights, and people dance hard on the packed floor. you see
people only in the slices of a strobe light or wash of colored lights, frantic
movement in the melee of bodies. it's like a womb, this enclosed, secure place
that is hot and pulsing the wall of sound and it's inhabitants.

globus was less insane, but still frantic. another packed dancefloor, with a
stage to dance on (always fun) and great lighting - i really must get some of
those huge lights that have a zillion colors and patterns to project. every now
and again the dancefloor would be filled by a smoke machine and the strobes
turned on, dancers reduced to silhouettes, ghosts moving in the fog.

we got there at midnight and dan and i left last, at ten - ten hours, a good
eight of that dancing, at least for me. of course, we could feel it the next day;
a curious side effect, though, was that before, i couldn't get within two inches
of touching my toes without pain, but afterwards i could grab the undersides of
my toes easily. i hope it stays (but it probably won't) - i'm farily inflexible,
due, no doubt, that i sit on my ass in front of a computer for ten hours a day.

sunday, after dragging our sorry selves out of bed at 6 in the evening, we met up
with couple of people we had met at the club, daniella, a chinese woman who had
moved to the usa several years ago as a student, and emilio (!), a student from
italy there for the parade. that night we all went out for a big dinner near
daniella and emilio's hotel (bah! she works for hyatt so she got a nice room in a
pricey hotel for free), before getting ready and returning to tresor for another
night in globus and the vault (the outdoor stage, looking like the site of a riot
from last night, was closed). this time, though, we spent just seven hours there
(just). of course, there's nothing like a long night of dancing to make you feel
really old the next day, so we didn't dance nearly as much (maybe just 4 hours
this time). 

monday morning, again, we raised the living dead (mostly ourselves) and met up
with daniella, after she dropped emilio off at the airport, for some food and a
walk around berlin to see checkpoint charlie and the wall. this time, however, we
held back from going out and all crashed at daniella's swank hotel room at the
entirely, completely sane hour of one am - nice, considering that was the time we
went out the previous night. and oh! the angels did sing when i used the bathtub
in her hotel for a much-needed soak - needed from the previous two nights and the
previous two months. ahh, the healing powers of water. you really have to dish
out the dough here to get a hotel room with a real bathtub.

so today i said goodbye to daniella, dan, brian and josh, who went further north
in germany - misha had already left for munich on sunday morning. so today i'm
preparing to return to sweden, hopefully to go to gotheburg to visit some people
i met in stockholm, and from there i'll probably go back to stockholm to take the
ferry to finland.

(bah. my railpass runs out in three days - i'm actually going to run out of time
before i run out of trips. after that i'm on my own for paying for trains.
luckily the're not that expensive here, and even then, oddly enough, many times
flying is actually cheaper in europe than taking the train. but i hope to be
traveling less and spending longer in places. i'd like to spend a little bit in
finland and/or denmark, maybe find a little side work for some cash. i'm sure
someone would want a web designer from california. after that i'd like to go back
to switzerland for a bit, see some more of it and relax.) 

- emilio