Rome's all-night party goes black
September 29, 2003
ROME — Rome's experiment with the idea of an all-night festival to
glamorize the benefits of urban living this weekend only served to
underscore some of the perils of city life.
In the middle of the round-the-clock cultural festivity,
intended to brighten up the streets of the capital throughout the
witching hours, all the lights went out.
Most people at first thought that the blackout, a result of a
nationwide power failure, was part of the fun.
"A big clamor went out as though people were asking 'who is the
joker that switched out the lights?' I thought it was part of the
long night," said Christophe Girard, the assistant mayor in charge
of culture in Paris, who attended the Rome event.
Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni borrowed the concept of the all-night
event from Paris Mayor Bernard Delanoe, who was stabbed and
seriously injured during the Paris festival a year ago.
Delanoe was also there at Veltroni's side. The openly gay mayor,
now recovered from his injuries after being attacked by a
homophobic assailant, had proposed an all-night festival for
"lovers of freedom and pleasure" in an international city.
Veltroni also had proposed a night of fun and friendship, and
when darkness suddenly fell, no one at first seemed concerned.
"People thought the blackout was due to over-consumption because
of the long night, although the news that the whole country had
been plunged in darkness quickly circulated," Girard said.
"But it was a happy atmosphere, and there was general good
People continued to stroll in the darkened streets until five in
the morning amid the faint light of car headlights. The partying
continued in the Capitol, the town hall, where a generator provided
enough power to light two salons.
The mayor's office said at least a million people turned out for
the festival and despite the darkness, no major incidents were
Electricity was restored to the Italian capital shortly before
midday (1000 GMT), while power was restored to the northern cities
of Milan and Turin a few hours earlier.
The mammoth power outage caused havoc on public transport,
leaving up to 30,000 passengers blocked in trains, and passengers
trapped in the underground systems of Rome and Milan as escalators
ground to a halt.
French and Italian electricity officials said the outage had
been triggered by a sudden interruption on power lines from France,
caused by a storm. –Sapa-AFP