This is it. Detroit’s Techno Christmas as we locals like to call it. Officially 2016 is the 10th anniversary under the Movement Festival name, but this is the 17th year celebrating the gift of electronic dance music in Detroit’s Hart Plaza. For the third year in a row, we at Detroit Techno House present our essential Movement Survival Guide with tips to make the most out of this very special gathering.
1. Show up early: There’s always that first can’t-miss performance of the day – don’t try to arrive just in time to see it. If there’s anything the massive line troubles of Movement 2015 taught festival goers, it’s that you can’t always predict how long it’ll take you to get to the heart of the action.
2. Prepare for the weather: This Memorial Day weekend is gonna be a slow and steady burner with a chance of rain in the middle of it all. Temps will be relentlessly in the mid to high eighties multiplied by the body heat of thousands of non-stop dancers. You’ll need sunglasses, portable shade, possibly an umbrella, a change of clothes, and tons of drinking water.
3. Keep a schedule handy: One of my favorite online schedules is the super simple SetTim.es website. Be sure to read their instructions at the beginning; on mobile you can tap the date tabs at the top to change dates, swipe left/right to change stages, and double-tap a performance to favorite it for later. Also you definitely need to bookmark our comprehensive Movement after party list since, well, we’re kind of the authority on the subject (hats off to our own Walter Glasshouse for assembling this beast of a list).
4. Visit the local stages: This year Detroit is flexing its muscle with not one but two stages featuring local talent. The “Made in Detroit/VICE Thump” stage features a mix of legendary hometown acts and performers that get a lot of love from our local scene. The Opportunity Detroit stage shows off some of the hidden gems that can be found here. Detroit’s own Interdimendsional Transmissions (headed by Brendan Gillen aka BMG) will be programming this stage on Saturday with a nasty lineup including Carlos Souffront, Ectomorph, Claude Young, and Mike Servito b2b Derek Plaslaiko and all of it will be live streamed! (see #8 below for that link). Sure Movement will include major acts that you can see at festivals around the country, but these stages represent the raw beauty of the Detroit electronic music scene, plain and simple. Do not miss them.
5. Move your body: This is an absolute must. You’re in Detroit, the techno Mecca, at the height of the annual techno celebration. You dance, you fucking dance, you won’t be able to help it. It doesn’t matter if you have rhythm, it doesn’t matter how you look, how you’re dressed, or how old you are; it doesn’t even matter if you can walk. Take a lesson from Grandma Techno herself who, even while mostly confined to a motorized scooter, still manages to dance her ass off!
6. Bring someone new to the festival: There’s nothing more special than seeing the eyes of a newcomer light up with wonder and amazement at the first time witnessing the sights and sounds of Movement. This is what these three days are about, making memories, making friends, feeling free and alive and very human.
7. Explore Detroit: The festival is great, but don’t forget you’re in Detroit. The city is changing lightning fast and if all you do is hang in the bubble of festival pageantry and downtown office buildings, you’re going to miss what makes Detroit the birthplace of such passionate artists. Walk our beautiful Riverfront, relax on Belle Isle (seriously it’s huge, super close, and will be an unforgettable experience), take a bike ride on the Dequindre cut, get some pre-festival supplies in historic Eastern Market, or try to arrange a tour of Detroit’s Techno Museum, visit the Detroit Institute of Art’s Dance Exhibition dressed up in your party attire. Whatever you do, just take a couple of hours to refresh yourself outside of the downtown/festival bubble, it will make your entire experience more complete, and much more magical.
8. Money is no object: So back when the festival was free, it was estimated to be more than 10 times it’s current size. Festival prices and after party ticket fees have risen steadily each year, but don’t fret. Even if you can’t afford a ticket or spent your baby’s diaper money on a wrist band and now can’t afford bottled water, there are plenty of free daytime events and after parties going on all weekend long (and people on the corners hawking $1 bottled water for that matter). There will be a live stream of the Opportunity Detroit stage on DeepSpaceRadio.com on Saturday. Even if you don’t have a ticket for the festival, spending good money on an incredible after party and saving your money and energy by not attending the festival is sometimes even more satisfying.
9. Protect your hearing: This one’s a no-brainer. You’re here for a music festival right? You like listening to music right? Well the sound pressure levels at this event can reach well over 115dB and cause permanent hearing damage with just a few SECONDS of exposure. The festival vending booths that sell candy and gum also sell earplugs at very reasonable prices. I’m a music producer so my hearing is my most prized asset. I usually buy a bunch of earplugs at a drugstore, fill one of my pockets, and give them to awesome people I meet who look like they could use them. It’s a great way to make new friends and show some love.
10. Pace yourself: Going super hard the first day is a rookie mistake. Often, newcomers will put all their energy into the first day, after party way too hard, and miss the supreme acts the next day at the festival. Let loose, have a crazy time, but treat your body with respect. Save that energy for the hours when you’re really going to want it. There are at least three days and four nights of constant partying that can be had. Choose your battles wisely, rest whenever it feels right, drink water, eat a damn banana. Don’t end up looking like a meth addict mugshot by day three. Be among the seasoned festival badasses who still tear up the dance floor at 10pm Monday night, and look damn good doing it!
11. Get lost: The unplanned moments in life are usually the ones worth remembering. At some point, ditch your friends, put the schedule away, and just wander. Use your ears, give the wheel over to curiosity, trust your instincts and I guarantee you’ll find kindred spirits and a fair bit of magic in the air.
12. Hygiene Hygiene Hygiene: It’s going to be warm and sticky and you’re probably going to develop a special stink at some point. Do everyone a favor and take the time to stay fresh. It kills the vibe to be in a crowd of people and bombarded with the stench of someone’s funky netherparts. Bring deodorant, a face wipe, a change of underwear at least, and probably a change of clothes each day. It’s fantastic feeling to put on fresh clothes for the evening after a hot sweaty day of dancing.
Now go forth and Techno! Festival is upon us!