I had arranged to stay with a friend in Zurich. Leaving Stuttgart on the train I crossed into Switzerland. Now in my minds eye I had this view of zurich as a financial capital of the world. Which itself led me to expect to see men in pinstripe suits and thin leather brief cases. I was in for a shock.
A fair way before the central station, three people got on my train which was destined to stop at all stops to Zurich. What was unexpected about these three people, two men and a woman, was that they were naked. Well, they were covered in green-yellow body paint. That was all. I did not stare. But I was rapidly rethinking my view of Zurich. I waited and watched.
As we made several more stops more and more naked or semi-naked people got on my intercity train. A little disappointingly some were fully clothed. By the time my train reached Zurich it was full of these people from fully dressed to fully undressed.
Getting off the train, I met my friend who had several of her friends from around Switzerland and southern Germany. They told me they were here for the evenings festivities. I had been expecting to catch another train. Instead I left my bags at the left luggage room.
We headed out onto the streets of Zurich. For a while we sat around on the ground in a park chatting before the parade stared. The man from Freiburg seemed particularly interested in the topic of “personal bad luck”. He was very apologetic about it.
I remember a transvestite wandering past in sequinned gold shorts and lots of glitter. We went and watched the parade which I remember being mostly flat bed semitrailers of groups of the naked and semi naked people dancing to trance music.
By around midnight I was very tired from a long day. So I said fare well to my new friends as they seemed intent to stay there the whole night and party. I headed off on my own to where I would sleep.
On the way back to the central station I passed parks and streets full of happy people, many just lying on the ground. It was the second happiest crowd of people I have ever seen. The station was again packed with people leaving. I think that Zurich has approximately 300,000 people living there and they estimated that there were over 500,000 at the street party.
When I went to the left luggage room there was a sea of people doing the same. I handed my luggage receipt to a woman behind the well staffed counter and described my luggage. She was confused, so she asked me to jump the counter to get my bag. I did this, felling it was just as surreal as the whole night. She directed me to the room with all the left luggage. In there was a sea of luggage covering the whole floor. But it was all small stuff. My large blue pack stood out and I grabbed it. Then it was back out, over the counter again and into the station platforms. I caught the train to Endigen on my own to where I was staying for the next 5 days, being picked from the station up in the wee hours of the morning.
Later I was told that this was the second largest street party in Europe for the year 1999. It turns out that officially it is a protest march.
1999 — participants: 550,000 — temp: 30 °C — motto: More than Words
Radio Street Parade goes on the air for about two weeks prior to and about a week following the Street Parade. Radio Street Parade broadcasts techno music, electronica and dance, interviews with DJs and musicians as well as reports about the Street Parade.
There seems to be a lack of media on the internet relating to this particular parade. But this trance video has a small number of pictures.