Welcome to Movement, the Home of Detroit Techno
Written by Evan Cudworth
Movement Electronic Music Festival Quick Facts:
Capacity: Medium to Large
Crowd type: Techno Ravers (plenty of black outfits) but overall a well-mixed crowd. Family friendly (kids welcome!) and on average a bit older than typical festival (25 – 35)
Music genre: Techno, Deep House
How To Get There
Most people stay at affordable hotels/AirBnBs within walking distance of the festival. Uber is readily available, and Surge was only bad at peak festival entry/exit points. I myself stayed about 20 minutes away and drove to the festival the first two days. Parking was cheap/free (I paid $10 a day).
Where To Stay
Movement provides a list of preferred hotels. I stayed in Dearborn, a bit farther than the average festival goer, but I enjoyed having a “home base” away from the temptation of copious afterparties (check back for more on those later). Some friends got a huge house through AirBnB (20 people) with a BBQ pit in the backyard for about $50 a person, which I’d opt for in the future.
The festival offered a wide variety of affordable food options; the rice bowl station was my personal favorite, but the corn dogs were also on point.
Of note: NO FREE OUTDOOR WATER STATIONS. Water was $3 – $4 for regular bottles. Camelbacks had to be filled in the underground restrooms where the lines were never too long, but this is the one serious complaint I have about Movement.
Movement is in a giant concrete park in Downtown Detroit, but it somehow felt incredibly warm and inviting. Production was top-notch all around; almost zero sound bleed between the six stages, which all had a totally unique character and felt perfectly at home in the public park.
Main Stage: Amphitheater style, so much room to dance. The perfect main stage.
Red Bull Music Academy: Home to many live acts, with a tree-filled picnic area.
Beatport: Arguably the most unique. A giant concrete structure of tiered stairs flanked the left side of the stage, which bordered the water looking across to Canada. Beware! My AT&T asked if I wanted to go on“roaming” because I was so close to the border… LOL.
Thump: More beautiful public art to take advantage of. There was even a breakdancing platform/sculpture where we’d congregate for dance-offs.
Underground: Literally underground, so plenty of shade but still fairly sweaty.
Opportunity Detroit: Smallest stage, in the grass/trees.
Artists You May Not Have Heard of But Can’t Miss
Literally way too many to name, but check out this series of artists (w/ posted sets) from the Made in Detroit Stage on Sunday, May 29th:
No Regular Play (live, looped trumpets!):
Things To Do
For a fest that is all about the music—Detroit is very proud of its techno roots (and rightfully so)—there were your typical festival options, including dozens of local clothing/art vendors. An incredible large-scale art installation converted the beats of the nearby music into technology that moved paintbrushes. There was even a vaping hut…but keep expectations reasonable: this is still a techno fest in downtown Detroit. I stopped to get a subpar henna tattoo; think I was too sweaty and it turned into a blob, but it’s the experience that counts!
Why Go VIP
This is such a chill festival, I don’t really see the benefit of going VIP unless you absolutely can’t pee in a portable toilet. Lines of any kind were scarce or nonexistent (although I heard rumors about long entry lines in past years), and VIP viewing areas were not significantly better than those provided to GA attendees.
What Makes The Festival Different?
You’ll see plenty of people wearing “NEGATIVE VIBES ONLY” shirts and carrying signs like “NO COAST NO HOPE MIDWEST TECHNO.” Upon first look this may appear standoffish, but in reality techno fans are some of the nicest crowds on earth. The seemingly uninviting apparel is all part of a scenester joke, don’t take it too seriously.
Movement is MADE IN DETROIT, which means that they try to have about 40% of the acts with local roots. That pride is warmly felt throughout the city and among festival patrons. Yes, Detroit is a city that has seen some rough times, but its history is one of resilience. The most common shirt/hat you’ll see is “DETROIT HUSTLES HARDER,” and it does. Which brings me to… afterparties.
Like Miami’s Winter Music Conference, there are plenty of people who come to Movement and never step foot in the festival. There are hundreds of after parties going on literally every minute of the week. Ask around and you’ll hear pop up sets everywhere from TV Lounge and Old Miami to Marble Bar and the Exodus Rooftop. An entire review could be written on the rich underground scene (which is where I spent the majority of my time), but we’ll save that for another post! The fest itself is so unique, I wouldn’t recommend the afters unless you’re well-accustomed to that scene already.
Any first-timer to Movement should do their research.
- Security is average; don’t be stupid and you’ll be fine.
- Wear black and bring a couple pairs of sunglasses; while kandi and crazy costumes are not actively discouraged, they’re not necessary.
- Stop and drench your head between sets at the gorgeous Noguchi fountain.
Despite the heat and the concrete, MOVEMENT was in the top 3 festivals I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to over 30). Here’s the three reasons why:
- Grit and pride of being downtown Detroit is palpable in the performers, attendees, and locals
- Music is the #1 concern of all involved. No pyrotechnics; no carnival rides. Just artists and patrons dancing it out.
- Typically I’m a bit of a roamer at festivals, but I met people here who made me want to stay and enjoy the journey.
Come meet me there next year!