The heat is on at the Westend Party

The legendary Westend Party: Since the mid-1990s, thousands of young people have been celebrating the start of the semester by dancing to the latest beats at the University Main Hall – and with free entrance. In 1998, this changes. For the first time, there is a charge of 5 DM, and 65 security guards are also deployed. This does not go down well with students and the public, who complain bitterly.

Crowds of party goers at the Westend Party on 6 June 2001.

Photo: Norma Langohr
Source: Universität Bielefeld

The “biggest semester start party ever held in Bielefeld”, as the Neue Westfälische reported, was organised by the campus radio project Uni-Funk (now Hertz 87.9) and the mobile phone provider Mobilcom. Three DJs got the party going on the dance floors, but many guests, especially students, were annoyed. In particular, the AStA (student union), on a flyer of 11 May, denounced the “commercialisation of student festival culture” and criticised the heavy-handedness of the security staff. Students, staff and visitors were denied access to toilets, library, lockers and offices, in some cases by physical force.

The Uni-Funk responded a week later with an unreserved apology. “The proceeds should, and will go towards the Campus-radio project i.e. the establishment of a university radio station with its own frequency and a daily live programme.” The Uni-Funk admitted that the newly introduced entrance fee should have been printed on the posters that announced the event and that the security staff could have been recruited with more care. To avoid a repeat of this unfortunate episode, and to safeguard future parties of this size, representatives of Uni-Funk, the University management and the AStA met up before each of the subsequent Westend Party events to discuss them.

Subsequently and until 10 April 2014, the annual Westend Party took place at the start of each semester in the Main University Hall. With up to 10,000 guests, it was one of the largest indoor parties in Germany. After a four-year interruption, the Westend Party brand was brought back to life again in February 2018. During the renovation of the University’s main building, it will find a new home in the Lokschuppen venue in Bielefeld. Shuttle buses will transport guests to and from the University and the entrance is free again, twenty years after the uproar about the commercialisation of the Westend Party.

Report from Campus TV on the Westend Party at the start of the winter semester 2010/2011.

Source: Universität Bielefeld, Campus TV

Origins of the Westend Party

The legendary party goes back to a tragic accident: In 1982, a member of the then university football team had a fatal accident during a private skiing holiday. To support the parents of the deceased teammate, his friends came up with an idea: in his honour, the team organised a party, the proceeds of which were donated in full to his parents. In spite of chaotic planning, the celebration under the name “Super-Gala of Good Taste” with 2,000 visitors was a huge success. The Westendparty owes its name to the place where on 26 January 1983, the DJ console was built.

Photo of the DJ-desk with Thomas Krieg at the party “Super-Gala of Good Taste” on January 26, 1983.

Photo: Ulrich Staub
Source: Thomas Krieg