Urich was an early adopter of techno music and, as it gained popularity in the 1990s, the city became a top spot for the genre in Europe. Techno parties started as occasional gatherings in underground spaces and abandoned buildings before evolving into a thriving club scene with frequent events.
Street Parade, an event that promotes love, freedom, generosity, and tolerance, has had a significant impact on the techno scene in the Swiss city. It was officially authorized in 1992 and began with less than 1,000 participants. Since then, it has steadily grown to attract 1 million visitors annually, which is three times the population of the city.
Jules Spinatsch, the photographer, captured images of people and small clusters, often found on the outskirts of the bustling crowds, during parades in the mid-90s.
According to Spinatsch, the purpose of the photograph was to capture the individuality of people who often blend into a crowd. Even those who stand out can appear dull when seen from afar. This isolation creates a pause in time, separates a moment from the continuous flow of movement, and adds space and distance from the ongoing action.
The present arrangement of the photographer’s portfolio as a multi-image slideshow aims to create a sense of a procession of pictures and people.
During a time of significant change, the photographs captured more than just Zurich’s transformation. The end of the Cold War brought about a livelier and more diverse atmosphere in the city, with the Street Parade serving as a manifestation of this shift and also carrying a political message.
The celebrations aimed to promote peace and acceptance through enjoyable and carefree activities, without any specific ideology, unlike in current times. But how much of it was about protesting and having a good time, and how much was driven by activism or desire to escape?
I experienced a sense of belonging to something novel, yet I lost interest in capturing images of protests – not the crowd as a mere decoration, nor the strength of the political movement in the frame. It was those on the outskirts of the event who truly embodied these concepts through their presence and appearance.
Frequently, I would take a photo at the precise moment when the subject noticed the camera, but their facial expression had not yet reacted to my presence. This allowed me to capture a spontaneous and unguarded expression, one that would surprise both myself and the individuals I was photographing.
Almost three decades have passed, and it appears that the individuals in the old photographs are gazing at us, the attendees of the exhibit, with inquisitive expressions. We possess knowledge that they do not yet possess about the future. Simultaneously, we are reflecting on this time, studying their faces as if we can communicate with them and respond to their inquiries. In doing so, we are also reconnecting with our own past. Revisit your past.
“During my initial year of taking photographs, it seemed as though all attendees were either dancing on or near the lovemobiles. However, from 1996 to 1997, the number of visitors increased from 150,000 to 475,000 and I noticed a significant change. The Street Parade transformed into a spectacle where onlookers watched the lovemobiles pass by, dividing the participants into spectators and activists.”
The transition from politics to entertainment may have been necessary for the Street Parade and Zurich’s techno culture to be recognized as part of Unesco’s intangible cultural heritage. In 2017, the Federal Office of Culture also included it in Switzerland’s list of living traditions.
One may inquire about the specific Swiss tradition being referenced, whether it is that of a neutral onlooker or an active participant.