As Memorial Day approaches we find ourselves heading into that time of year when Detroit becomes the destination for all things house and techno, the Movement Electronic Music Festival. After years of festival going, we at Detroit Techno House put together a guide for those who are attending for the first time, or haven’t been in some years and need a crash course on how to make it through a non-stop weekend of dancing and electronic music enjoyment. These tips will ensure you have a great time and make it out mostly intact.
1. Arrive Early-ish: Not saying you need to get there at noon all three days, but arriving by mid-afternoon has its advantages. Scheduling is odd every year, and there are always some amazing artists who end up with an early time slot. This means catching great acts in a more intimate setting without getting jostled by the ebb and flow of peak crowds. Arriving early can also mean a far less lengthy wait to enter. A few hours late could turn your 15 minute wait into an hour.
2. Prepare for the worst: This is Michigan. Our weather can make drastic changes. Make sure you bring a warm shirt/jacket, poncho, hot weather gear, and a change of clothes in case you get wet; it does happen. Also having a fresh change of clothes for after-partying can be key.
3. Proper foot attire is a must: I mean come on, you’re going to a techno festival. You will be dancing your ass off for 3 days and nights; you need some comfortable kicks. And leave the sandals and open-toes at home; Select parts of Hart Plaza can become a sewer by the end of each day and believe me, you don’t want to step your bare foot into a pile of funky rave goo.
4. Lose your friends (even if only for a little while): Wandering around the festival solo is awesome! Meet new people, go see an artist your friends don’t really like, or just go explore. It’s always fulfilling to spend some alone time connecting with the music, the crowd, and the festival overall.
5. Go see an artist you have never heard of: This is huge. Choose someone random. You may be pleasantly surprised, and getting turned on to some new music is always rewarding. The crowds also change at each stage and for each artist. Even though Detroit is pretty much Techno snob capital of the world, step outside that prejudice for 72 hours. You may find yourself a new dance partner and a new sound to love.
6. Visit the “Made in Detroit” stage often: One reason that Movement is one of the premier festivals in the world is that the artists who hail from this Techno Mecca have literally pioneered many of the sounds you will hear on every stage. Making your way to a stage that only showcases artists from Detroit is a great way to pay homage to the Motor City, and also an easy way ensure amazing musical experience the entire time. From Kevin Saunderson, to Malik Alston, to Detroit Techno Militia, this city knows how to throw down. It’s all quality on the “Made In Detroit” stage.
7. DANCE: Perhaps an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised… Many people attend the festival as newcomers to the dance music scene, and they aren’t used to dancing the day away with soul-liberating abandon. Here’s your chance to find out why Detroit does what they do. Move your body to the rhythmic pulse and find yourself lost in a sea of energy that can only be experienced in the heart of downtown during Memorial Day weekend.
8. Bring a first-timer: If all of us brought a friend we might eventually like our friends more 😉 This is a chance to expose someone to an artistic wonderland of human expression that is uniquely Detroit. Music is a pillar of Detroit culture that has earned the respect of people across the world. If your friend is a blank canvas with an open mind, you just might change their life.
9. Observe the unique architecture of Hart Plaza : The entire site of Movement is sacred place of sorts. It represents the spot where Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac first landed and founded the area that is now Detroit, complete with monuments and artwork to commemorate the birth of our city. Designed in part by Isamu Noguchi, who was inspired by Egyptian architecture, many symbols here hold deeper meaning. It has been compared to the layout of the pyramids and the term “stargate” has been thrown around by more new-agey researchers. For some of that check out www.michigansotherside.com. No matter what you believe, just stepping inside Hart Plaza one cannot deny the special energy within. Add the overwhelming thump of the music being transmitted to thousands of people and you have a special spot for a special festival. Visit the “Pyramid”, The Dodge Fountain, The Transcend (circular sculpture), and The Obelisk for some artistic inspiration during your Techno adventure weekend.
10. The Non-Music: Eat at the Slows BBQ tent or any of the local eateries that may be set up here. Avoid the corn dogs toward the end of the day (you’ve been warned). Check out the merch booths: Many Detroit companies bring out some sweet gear for the festival that is difficult to find otherwise, from local music to local fashion and culture. Experience Downtown Detroit: Go to the back of the festival and exit onto the River Walk, check out the Detroit River and make your way to the Renaissance Center. This building is a circular skyscraper built in 1977 and is truly one of the most unique architectural concepts in the United States. Even the designer, John Portman, said that he still gets lost in it when he visits because of it’s labyrinth-like interior that seems to cascade endlessly into the sky. From there you can even take the people-mover around the city in a short 2.9 Mile round trip of the busiest destinations in Detroit. Then come back and rave.
11. People watch with respect: Check out the break-dancers, but steer clear when someone is getting busy. The festival is a great place to see countless the flavors of human this world has to offer, and some very interesting ones will be in attendance. This doesn’t mean you should gawk at the chick with a vampire costume or the dude with the gold spandex, but you can observe and appreciate that there are so many unique ways that human expression manifests itself in the world today.
12. PROTECT YOUR EARS!!!: This is possibly the most important tip. The music is the reason you are here, and if you respect this art form so much you should respect the part of your body that allows you to experience it. These festivals are truly a wonder of sonic technology, and the sound systems are insane, tuned to bang in a way that will literally rock your body. They can also really damage your ears. If you plan to be front row for multiple hours, YOU SHOULD BE WEARING EAR PLUGS; or you could not wear ear plugs, and then not be able to hear in 15 years. If you bring a child, they should ALWAYS have ear plugs and sound protection earmuffs on. Just protect those beautiful vibrating organs inside your head that make you so happy.
13. Know what, and what not to bring: DO BRING: toilet paper, extra clothes, and sunscreen. Also bring plenty of water and snacks, but keep them in a cooler in your car or hotel, and make a trek back there every once in a while to recharge your rave batteries.You’ll be surprised how many times you can visit your car in a 7 hour period. DON’T BRING: 4,000 glowsticks, flyers not approved by the festival, or any liquids; these things make the line slow down and security will just make you throw them out. For more info visit the FAQ of Movement’s official site.
14. Wash your ass: It’s pretty simple, and we all appreciate it. The rain is not your bath, the scent of the human is not always beautiful, and patchouli can only hide so much. I don’t care if you use Dove or Organic-Oatmeal-Fruit-Fern-Juniper-Scrub… Just wash that ass. Thanks in advance!
15. Don’t blow your wad on the first day: This is a marathon not a sprint, and it is an achievement to still be dancing happily on day 3 at 11pm. Many folks go crazy on Saturday night and try to go to 7 after parties with blatant disregard for brain or muscle damage. We suggest keeping it balanced, because if you go too hard that first night, the next two nights won’t be as epic as they could be. I promise, Movement holds it’s cards till the end, and this year is no different. Carl Cox closes the fest on the Main Stage with Jeff Mills playing a 3-hour set simultaneously on the Underground Stage. You will want to save energy for that last explosion of sound, and in my opinion Monday usually has the most “Detroit” vibe. So go crazy, but pace yourself so you can enjoy all this great festival has to offer.