There is no doubt that my love and obsession for electronic music was cemented in an array of disused warehouses and spaces in Detroit. Spending countless nights in dark spaces learning the idiosyncrasies of this varied genre of music and its unique culture of sounds and characters taught me to love dance music. However, a club once known as The Motor Lounge rounded out significant pieces of my electronic education.
Motor, formerly located in the Detroit non-suburb of Hamtramck, was one of the longest running Detroit clubs to feature electronic music. The Motor Lounge was opened from 1996 to 2002 and featured DJs and performers from around the globe, as well as a lot of local heroes. Motor was significant because it was the only place of its kind at the time. Most big name National DJs were often leery to play in Detroit in the late 90s, due to the fact that they would get booked at some shady rave. Although motor was not exclusively an electronic music club when it opened, its transition into a House and Techno mecca was monumental for many Detroit area people at the time.
Motor was great because there was always good music and a fantastic vibe. From the storied “Family” nights, to the weekly house music nights featuring Terrence Parker, the live broadcasts of “Maximum Overload” on local radio, and national and international acts live Green Velvet, Aphrodite, Derrick May, Ritchie Hawtin, Basement Jaxx, and Nigel Richards, The Motor Lounge always had something to offer to those seeking excellent electronic music. For a period of time, I was at Motor multiple nights every week getting my dance on, and hearing artists that normally would have just flown over Detroit en route to gigs in bigger cities.
Like all good things, The Motor Lounge did come to an end. By 2002, electronic music in Detroit had moved full speed from the warehouses to the clubs, where we still find it today. As to the exact reason Motor closed its doors, there are so many stories, theories, and opinions, I’ll save that for another article. The building still stands vacant, complete with its original flame doors. There have been a few one-off memorial parties over the years in the venue, but nothing like when it was in its heyday. But, The Motor Lounge was an important place for many electronic music fans in Detroit, and will always live on in stories and memories.