People are always talking about where the city I live in and love—Detroit—is headed. There are countless rankings, ratings, rants, and Buzzfeeds (and, yes, I just plural-nouned that) on ‘The D.’ The opinions or predictions vary from the ultra-positive to, well, the ‘ugh.’ (And, as someone who lives and plays in Downtown Detroit, while commuting to work 35+ miles away, I can honestly say that the wholly negative ‘reviews’ of my adopted ‘home’ are way off-base and deserve to be categorized as ‘ugh.’)
Detroit isn’t perfect. But where is? What Detroit is—and what all the rankings, ratings, rants, and Buzzfeeds have as common ground is that Detroit is—a city on the move.
And as someone who lives here, I can testify that it is filled with movers-and-shakers. You can’t go to the restaurant in your building for coffee (the Hudson Café), take a Little Dog out for a walk, or grab drinks and dinner without meeting people who are intent on changing the city (and, as this blog will eventually get to, the world) and having a danged good time while doing it.
Which is why I am writing a blog about Movement, the Electronic Music Festival, happening this weekend. This city is about movement, and has been even before Henry Ford and the automobile industry. And this city is about what is happening—in other words, what is cool, edgy, fun…
Alright. If there are three things I am not, they are ‘cool,’ ‘edgy,’ and ‘fun.’ Which is why I turned to friends who are all of those things (and who have lived all around the world—including Detroit, and are traveling back to Detroit from across the country this Memorial Day weekend just to be here for Movement) for some guidance.
Because that’s another thing about living Downtown—getting by with a little help from your friends is a heck of a lot easier when you meet so many talented people from different backgrounds who you get to call friend.
But, yes, it’s Memorial Day Weekend in Detroit, which means a lot of different things are happening in Downtown Detroit, and one of the biggest ‘happenings’—not just for Detroit, but for people from all over the world—is Movement, the Electronic Music Festival.
I am one of the people who have attended Movement, and enjoyed all the festivities that surround the world-famous Festival for a lot longer than even the three-day weekend, but I’m not as ‘in-the-know’ when it comes to that scene as my friends who travel to Detroit just for the weekend-long festival, to be here, in Detroit, where it’s ‘at,’ for (at least) five days of constant fun.
Two of these friends are Detroit ex-pats who are flying in from San Francisco just for the Festival, so I turned to them to find out why Movement is so special—to them and to the city—and what to expect, if you’re like me and aren’t ‘in-the-know’ but want to check it out…
Wes is originally from the west coast of Michigan and lived in Detroit for three years post-college before his job moved him to the West Coast.
I asked him how he would describe Movement to someone who had never been there. The first thing he told me confirmed what I already knew: “The energy of the people, the artists, and the city come together to form a vibe that cannot be described; you have to experience it yourself.”
Fortunately, since the goal is to describe the experience, Wes continued, telling me he gets “an indescribable feeling when embarking on what many people refer to as ‘the most important dance music event in the world’ and the city that is arguably ‘the birthplace of techno.’”
He went on to quote Derrick May, the DJ credited with being an originating influence in techno, on the Festival: “No one can explain it.”
I was reassured to be in good company with my inability to describe what it’s like to experience Movement.
Because Wes tells me that May went on to say, “It’s just an enormous opportunity for an amazing experience that you will never forget. If I had to describe it, it’s the best day in the world.”
Then Wes went on to explain to me, “There’s something to be said about a city that can embrace techno and electronic music the way Detroit does. Even the mayor officially declares the time frame as ‘Detroit Techno Week.’ Movement isn’t just at Hart Plaza, it is city-wide. Nearly every bar in the city hires local DJs in support of the electronic music pulse that is generated by the festival. The local clubs keep the vibe going when the festival shuts down for the evening, sometimes until the festival starts up the next day at noon, by hosting some of the most talked about after-parties in the world.”
And he’s right. Movement isn’t just about the music. The energy of the city and the enthusiasm surrounding it permeates the whole of Downtown. Actually, it spreads a lot further than that, ignoring national and spatial boundaries.
Wes’s wife, Andi is one of my best friends, and also lived in Detroit for years. But before that, she lived in Tokyo, Cancun and London—after leaving Budapest, Hungary, where she was born and raised.
When I asked her what she liked best about going to Movement every year, she told me it was “The feeling that I get when I first walk in—full of energy, excitement, anticipation, and knowing whatever my expectations are beforehand, it will go far beyond that….” And then she pointed out how great it was “Seeing the city come to life, with people from all over the planet coming here.”
Having lived all over the globe, Andi is no stranger to international music festivals, so her love for Movement isn’t because she’s a ‘local’ or lifetime Detroiter. It’s because, as she puts it, “The entire city embraces it. Sports bars play techno, restaurants serve techno. The whole city is the festival. This is what I’m looking forward to and what I miss most.”
She goes on to tell me about the reaction she gets from people when she tells them she and Wes are making the trek back to Michigan to go to Movement. “Everyone that knows the first thing about electronic music is in awe. There are no Movement ‘haters’ like with Coachella. It’s just people who love it and the people who haven’t experienced it yet.” And, as she points out about the people who haven’t experienced it yet, “We’re working on it.”
And she and Wes are—I mean aside from helping me out with the insider scoop on the Festival. They’re bringing friends from California who have never been here before with them when they return ‘home’ to Detroit.
So if you’re in that same group—one of those who ‘haven’t experienced it yet’—you should check out Movement, and Detroit, this weekend, so you can join the league ‘people who love it.’
Even if you don’t have tickets to the festival itself (say you’re going to the Tigers’ games), there are plenty of places to go and things to do during the weekend to get a ‘taste’ of festival while you’re Downtown.
Last year, Andi, Wes, and I met up at Grand Trunk Pub, which is basically the ‘front yard’ of the Festival, and is a must-do for any trip Downtown or when you live, work, and play here, as they have Michigan Craft Beers on tap and music…and on this particular weekend they are simply a great location for excellent people-watching and people-meeting opportunities.
Andi, Wes and I will definitely also be hitting up Town Pump Tavern. Their BBQ Chicken Pizza was a weekly staple in our diet when they lived in The D. We’re also going to have to make sure their West Coast friends get a taste of some Midwest Brew, made right here at Detroit at Detroit Beer Co.. I’m going to recommend they try the Hockeytown Hefeweizen, a German beer made in The D, that demands more than one ‘cup.’
DJs will be everywhere, not just at Hart Plaza. The Festival officially kicks off on Thursday at 10 p.m. at Exodus in Greektown with Ryan Elliott, Chuck Flask, Joe Gize, and Players Club. On Friday, check out Body Mechanix at The Whiskey Disco with Gene Farris, Hd Substance, Tim Baker, Dru Ruiz, and Amy Unland. Saturday night keep it spinning with The Detroit Masonic Temple and Kevin Saunderson, Dantiez Saunderson and Gene Farris. Keep ‘cool’ on Sunday at TV Lounge with Seth Troxler (an exclusive Afterparty performance), Move D, Dj Tennis, Doc Martin (Sublevel), Guillaume & the Coutu Dumonts, Tom Trago, Eddie C, Rick Wade, ATAXIA, Dax Lee, Sevron, Navbox, and more at the ‘OK, COOL!’ Party. And while that party ends at 10 a.m. you can get more out of Movement and your Memorial Day weekend by attending The Old Miami’s ‘Need I Say More X’ Party from “7:30 a.m. until ?”
Yes. That is a question mark. Because when you live, work, or play in Downtown Detroit (especially during the Memorial Day weekend Movement Festival), there is no end to the fun.
In fact, there is an After Movement Afterparty on Tuesday morning! From 5:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. hit Full Energy at UFO Factory. With 12+ DJs from all over the world, this two-room, indoor/outdoor affair is a must-do!
So, my friends and I will be fueling up our energy for all the festivities with brunch at the Hudson Café, another ‘must-do’ on Andi’s list of places to get back to on this trip ‘home’ to Detroit.
While Wes and Andi helped me out with describing the indescribable experience that is Movement, Wes pointed out something else I already knew…but he said it better than I could have: “I’m excited to see all my friends from my home city and hit up my favorite spots to catch up with everyone. What I’m most excited about is connecting the amazing people that I know from San Francisco to the amazing people of Detroit…and within a setting of something that is meaningful to all of us—the vibe, the city, and the electronic music movement.”
Whether you’re Downtown for the Tigers, or because you already know and love the festival, or because you want to experience Movement yourself, or just for a fun weekend in Detroit, you can connect with people from all over the world.
Or connect to the city that so many people live, work, and play in—a city on the move, filled with people who are focused on the future…and having a great time getting there.
When you live Downtown, connecting with great people from near and far happens all the time. This weekend there’s just an excellent soundtrack to it all….