The Spirit of Detroit may be a statue that sits cross-legged just feet from Hart Plaza—the riverfront home of Movement Electronic Music Festival—but it's also so much more than that. It's a persistent sense of pride, even (maybe especially) in the face of adversity. It's an assurance of authenticity, that what you see is what you get. It's a DIY mentality, tenacious work ethic and gritty, renegade essence. It tastes like coney dogs, square pizza, Faygo, and Ghettoblaster and sounds like J Dilla, Motown, and the Electrifying Mojo. The city has music seeping from its marrow. The Spirit of Detroit is an actual award Movement just received from the City Council. For, beyond being merely a music festival, Movement is the embodiment of all these aspects of Detroit's unique character; it is also a declaration of Detroit's claim to techno—a resounding proclamation that can literally be heard in Canada.
In honor of Paxahau's ten year anniversary of producing Movement, we've outlined our 10 “Commandments” for visiting Detroit and attending Movement to help make the most of your holiday in techno's hallowed mecca.
Thou Shalt Do Thy Homework
We're not suggesting you tear through Techno Rebels in the next few days (although at some point you certainly should), but Detroit has a rich musical history—it's advised you brush up on the Cliff's Notes. Not hip to Art Payne and Keith Martin, who are playing the festival together on Monday? Google the Deep Space Collective. Want to read the awe-inspiring account of how the first Detroit Electronic Music Festival came to pass, as told by the likes of Richie Hawtin, Carl Craig, and Kevin Saunderson? Check out Resident Advisor's 2010 feature “Put Your Hands Up: An Oral History of Detroit's Electronic Music Festival.” Prepare to get goosebumps. Interested in the esoteric? Look into Chad Stuemke's theory that postulates Hart Plaza is a stargate. The city is steeped in stories like these, but you have to do your research.
Thou Shalt Honor Thy Institutions
At Movement, as in Detroit, legends are in no short order (just check out Legends Plaza at the Detroit Historical Museum for proof). For instance, Berlin fixture Tresor will be celebrating its 25 year anniversary with a proper techno pummeling on Saturday night. As always, Interdimensional Transmissions will cultivate its otherworldly aesthetic at No Way Back on Sunday night (they also have a showcase at the festival on Saturday), and Need I Say More returns to Old Miami for its eleventh Monday morning outing. Carl Craig is curating Detroit Love's sophomore stage on Saturday (which will be followed by an afterparty at The Masonic Temple that same night), while techno “Elevator” Kevin Saunderson brings Origins to the festival for its third annual affair on Monday. Juan Atkins and Moritz von Oswald are playing the main stage together as Borderland before Kraftwerk closes out Saturday night. Between enjoying the music these luminaries make, devour a coney dog, visit the Motown Museum, and hit up the Heidelberg Project.
Thou Shalt Welcome Newcomers
Maybe this is your tenth year attending Movement and most of this is moot. Perhaps you're even a local who knows the city inside and out. Whatever the case, at one time it was all new and exciting and scary and foreign. You were welcomed, or you wouldn't still be here. The glowstick-wielding rave baby dancing next to you may not know that Seth Troxler, Mike Huckaby, and Derek Plaslaiko were all employed at Detroit's famed Record Time in the '90s, but they can still enjoy their sets all the same; take the time to teach them. Stop and make sure that the frazzled-looking girl with the flower crown knows where she's going. Check out the stylings some of Detroit's new crop of talent has to offer; making their Movement debut are Shady P, DJ Holographic, Loren, Ryan McCray, and Pontchartrain, as well as Monday's Yo! Sucka label showcase, an introduction to the Detroit “sludge” sound. The city has some enticing new venues, including Marble Bar and Grenadier, as well as fresh party alternatives like Modern Cathedrals and Discwoman; both of which are back for their second consecutive year.
Thou Shalt Not Commit Acts of Ruin Porn
Disseminating images of a decaying urban landscape may have been the rage a few years back, but the practice has long been a source of repulsion and endless eye rolls for locals. If you can't find more exciting facets of the city to share you might want to readjust your focus. Detroit is a city full of life in the midst of revival, and that's a far worthier tale to tell. By all means, snap your photo of Detroit Central Station and its new windows, or the Packard Plant, renowned for hosting Hawtin's revolutionary Plastikman parties in the '90s. Just know that you are now an ambassador for the Motor City, so be mindful how you portray it.
Thou Shalt Not Give in to Feelings of FOMO
The idea of FOMO (fear of missing out) is never a good expenditure of one's energy. However, with six festival stages and a never ending parade of afterparties to choose from, it can be especially easy to fall prey to its pull. There are infinite ways to approach the weekend and not one of them is wrong. So whether you were sucked into another set or getting some sleep, push any thought of regret away when you hear what your friend has been up to.
Thou Shalt Go with the Flow
It's OK to approach the weekend with a game plan. We're no strangers to the festival schedule spreadsheet, and even know people who pre-plan their naps; however, you've got to be prepared to abandon them. If this isn't your first Movement, you've probably already learned that it's best not to purchase too many pre-sales. It only takes one experience dropping $30, only to be screamed at by security and stuck in a room with a lousy sound system to learn the lesson loud and clear: Your best bet is to ditch the road map, surrender to the rabbit hole, and see where the music takes you.
Thou Shalt be Mindful of Thy Surroundings
Just because there is a fresh layer of paint and a batch of new businesses doesn't mean you should be any less shrewd. Keep your wits about you, especially in the wee hours. The only alleys acceptable for traversing are the one at TV Lounge and those of your mind.
Thou Shalt Explore Thy Surroundings
Detroit is massive. 142 square miles, to be exact. If all you see of it is Hart Plaza and your hotel room, then you've ignored 99% of them. Make your way to Eastern Market, home to a bustling farmer's market every weekend, and you'll see some of the city's incredible street art. The same could be said of the Grand River Creative Corridor. For something organized, sign up for the Detroit Bus Company's “Drunks of Antiquity” tour, Wheelhouse Detroit's “Techno in the 313” offering, or Pure Detroit's tours of the Guardian and Fisher Buildings (openings are limited). Walk around downtown and appreciate the architecture or, for a more obscure oddity, order an Uber to Hamtramck Disneyland.
Thou Shalt Nourish Thyself
Something about Detroit seems to bring out people's most hedonistic inner party animal, but no one wants to be that person being held up by their friends before they even enter Hart Plaza. Between the Smart Bar x Resident Advisor opening party on Friday night and Dirty Epic's annual closer on Monday, take care of yourself mentally and physically. Start your day with yoga at the Opportunity Detroit stage, a new offering at the festival; drop by the Trinity Gypsy booth for reiki and a tarot reading; grab a cold-pressed juice from Drought and drink it in a lawn chair on the River Walk just east of Hart Plaza; go to “the beach” at Campus Martius Park; get food in Greektown, Mexicantown or Polish Village; listen to jazz; sleep; and hydrate.
Thou Shalt Respect Detroit
Considered by many to be the most musically important place the world over, Detroit has seen its fair share of hardship. Although Movement may not be considered a “transformational festival” in the traditional sense, some of those principles should still be employed. Just because it is not explicitly a “leave no trace” event doesn't mean you should abandon your garbage on the ground, go around excluding others, or be anything but present in the current moment. Detroit is a place that demands and deserves respect. If you don't, it'll chew you up and spit you out faster than you can say “Ok, Cool.” The reward if you do? It will respect and embrace you back.
Bonus Commandment: Enjoy this Mix from Detroit's Chuck Daniels
Head of Sampled Detroit, Daniels has an absolute whirlwind of a weekend ahead. He'll be opening for Danny Tenaglia at Populux on Friday night, spinning at his own party Cosmic Disco at Marble Bar on Saturday, making the Opportunity Detroit stage sing on Sunday, and, finally, tagging with Oliver Dollar at Brigg's on Monday. Despite all these esteemed appearances to prepare for, he still managed to whip up a mix to get you in the Movement mood. What a guy!