Born out of the African American experience from the city that automated the world and gave us the sweet, smooth sounds of Motown, techno emerged from a handful of Detroit DJs and innovators that were driven to change the world through frequency and sound.
Since the 1980s techno continues to bring people together all across the globe to vibe, dance and get down. In the same way electrons create stronger bonds through covalence, the power of music unites us all.
1. ART, STATUES, SHOPPING & OTHER DETROIT FIXTURES
This itinerary is inspired by the people and places within Detroit’s Covalence video. If you haven’t seen the video, be sure to check it out and add these locations to your must sees of Detroit techno yesterday and today.
Detroit’s techno scene history runs rich and deep. It makes for an authentic Detroit experience and takes years to fully immerse yourself into, understand, and become a regular at your favorite DJ’s haunts. A tight-knit yet welcoming community, Detroit’s techno scene continues to survive through covalence.
It’s more than just live performances and the Movement festival, there’s an entire creative community that inspired the techno sound. Step outside the clubs and into the heart of Detroit to experience it for yourself.
Here are some must-see locations:
The Shelter, underneath St. Andrews Hall, played a big part during the rise of techno and hosted many DJs and house parties in the early days. Its mothership, St. Andrew’s Hall, is one of the most iconic music venues in Detroit, playing host to legendary acts like, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, Nirvana and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Today, it still maintains its reputation as a music stronghold.
You can’t talk about Detroit’s musical roots without a nod to Motown. For the DJs that grew up in Detroit, the influence of the Funk Brothers, Marvin Gay, Stevie Wonder and others, are part of their soul and permeates techno even today. Pay homage to the greats with a visit to Motown Museum. Tours run for about an hour Tuesday through Saturday. Purchase tickets online to secure your spot.
Archer Records has been pressing records since 1965. They’re the oldest record plant in Detroit and instrumental in keeping techno and Detroit music alive with a regular clientele of local artists, such as Mike Banks from UR and others. See their no-frills manufacturing facility on East Davidson Avenue. If gritty manufacturing isn’t your thing, check out Third Man Records in Midtown, the dream child of Jack White from the White Stripes.
Lincoln Street Art Park, right around the corner from the Marble Bar, is an outdoor art installation composed of sculptures and murals. Not only was it a great backdrop for the video, it was created to inspire, and promote joy and creativity — much like techno itself. The park hosts yoga, parties and even techno events. Check their Facebook page to see what’s happening.
For many die-hard fans, techno music has changed their lives and Detroit is considered the mecca, where they make pilgrimages from all around the world just to see where it all started. If you know, you know. There’s even a techno museum. For Exhibit 3000 Tours contact John Collins at email@example.com. All visits are by appointment only. See the an original Roland 909 drum machine and other instruments used by techno pioneers. You’ll also find the techno capital’s latest and rarest vinyl records, as well as Underground Resistance 12”s and merchandise at Submerge Record Distribution… somewhere in Detroit.
It was the people of Detroit that inspired the techno sound. And it’s the people of Detroit that continue to propel the community. In the same innovative spirit of techno artists, African American Detroiters took action into their own hands, creating access to nutritional food to improve the health of their community through small urban farms and gardens. Stop by and see the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm in the North End.
Communities grow stronger through the bonds we make. And visionary Olayami Dabls, set out years ago to do just that — build stronger connections. Experience Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum and see why he’s such a strong pillar in the Detroit community. He created a space for people to understand the immense power of African heritage. It occupies nearly an entire city block and includes 18 outdoor art installations and the bead museum. See it for yourself and don’t miss out on the opportunity to chat with Dabls himself.
Techno’s Belleville three, Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson set up studios just outside the Eastern Market at Gratiot and Riopelle. So technically, you can say techno started at this corner. Today, evidence of their studios is still present and the artist and dining community is thriving. Be sure to visit People’s Records, Trinosophes and artists galleries.
We would be remiss not to mention Detroit jit and the impact this style of dance had in Detroit and beyond in the rap and techno scenes alike. You may have noticed Haleem “Stringz” Rasul performing in front of a mural. You can see the actual mural and others throughout Eastern Market. Stringz teaches various forms of jit and urban dance as an entrepreneur and leader of Hardcore Detroit.
2. DRINKS & DANCING
Though most of the clubs and spaces that hosted the techno diehards of the 1980s and 1990s are now just a memory, venues across the city still become the gathering place for those looking for a techno night (and maybe early morning) out.
TV Lounge: Known for hosting some of the biggest names in Detroit techno and its perfect outdoor party space, TV Lounge remains a go-to for the ultimate techno experience.
El Club: A favorite smaller concert venue among locals, El Club in Southwest Detroit hosts upcoming techno acts and other genres. They serve some great food, too.
Marble Bar: A relatively new music-heavy venue in the city, Marble has made a name for itself quickly, hosting iconic DJs and parties for techno-lovers.
The Majestic Theatre: The Majestic opened in 1915 and is a part of the fabric of Detroit’s music scene. Check their line up for upcoming electronic shows.
Baker’s Keyboard Lounge: Detroit’s jazz scene is credited with putting the city on the musical map. Baker’s has been showcasing the genre’s best since 1933.
Mentioned Attractions And Venues
Hart Plaza1 Hart Plaza, Jefferson Avenue at Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48226