Police and organisers aborted the Berlin Festival four hours early last Friday night, after crowds of revellers became dangerously crushed trying to enter one of the indoor arenas to see 2 Many DJs and Fatboy Slim.
Press reports said a few clubbers booed and threw cups as pressure built up outside the entrance to Hangar 4, prompting organisers to cancel the entire event following police advice, at 2.40am.
Speaking about the cancellation the next morning, the organiser implicitly linked their decision to shut down early to the recent Love Parade disaster in which 21 revellers were crushed to death.
“Discontinuing the festival was indeed a very hard decision that many might think of as too cautious. In the context of current security debates, it was carried out deliberately and with great safety precautions for our festival audience in mind,” they explained in a statement posted on their website.
“The festival had to be discontinued early. Before two main DJ acts – Fatboy Slim and 2manydjs – could conquer the stage, we had to get the audience off the festival grounds, a decision that was made in accordance with the police.
In our case, hangar 4’s capacity wasn’t the issue, which was occupied with the approved amount of festival goers. The pass gates, however, as well as the festival goer dynamics were,” they added.
Explaining their actions in more detail several days later they said noise restrictions forced them to close the (much larger) outdoors main stage at 11pm prompting bottlenecks as too many clubbers tried to enter Hangar 4 at the same time. They also singled out ‘aggressive behaviour’ from a small number of individuals as being the key factor behind the closure, which was backed by the reports of one reveller on Resident Advisor’s forum who wrote of feeling ‘quite scared’ as ‘selfish’ partygoers tried to force their way in.
“The security had closed the gates, but the only people who could hear were those being crushed at the front. The people at the back who decided they were going in, security or not, were pushing and pushing,” Said Sooty UK.
“It was terrible as we were maybe 5 rows from the front and we couldn't get out. People were going crazy, pulling at the fences and ripping down graphics,” said Sooty.
Norman Fatboy Slim Cook also issued a statement afterwards in which he said the organizers are hoping to bring him back to Berlin at a later date.
“It’s really a strange feeling to go through all the preparation for an exciting gig like this and then have it cancelled just as you are about to take the stage,” Cook added.
“Big love goes out to all the fans who must have suffered exactly that same frustration.”
Berlin Festival organizers urged revellers to contact them via their Facebook page with suggestion and ideas for future events and said they had no regrets about aborting the party.
“Regarding various accusations in certain forums mentioning “gain of profit”, we want to explicitly state that we didn’t sell more tickets than permitted, all security measures were put into practice without exception, and discontinuing the festival on Friday as well as shortening our programme on Saturday lead to great financial loss on our part,’ they added. “For your security, we gladly deal with financial loss.”