Why Movement Detroit Is Unlike Every Other Techno Festival In The World

By | May 15, 2017
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Photo by Steven Pham

Photo by Steven Pham

There is something extremely unique about Movement Electronic Music Festival in Detroit.

If you’ve been there, you know. And if you haven’t but have friends who have, ask them and they will definitely confirm that it’s true.

It’s hard to pin-point why Detroit lights up the way it does during Movement weekend, but there is no denying that the entire city comes alive in a unique way that can’t be compared to any other time of the year. Movement weekend is Detroit’s second busiest of any given calendar year, only behind the North American International Auto Show. Yet, it’s probably the most welcomed weekend by locals who look forward to the friendly throngs of music fans that invade Hart Plaza by the tens of thousands for the three-day celebration that takes place during Memorial Day Weekend each year.

The festival’s history goes as far back as the year 2000, when the celebration was first called Detroit Electronic Music Festival, or DEMF for short. The annual electronic music event changed named two other times, going simply as Movement in 2003-2004 and as Fuse-In in 2005 before being taken over by Paxahau under the current name. Although some still call it DEMF for nostalgia’s sake while others refer to it simply as Movement, the festival holds a important place in the hearts of techno and house fans throughout North America and beyond. It reaches deep for those who have been listening and dancing to underground dance music throughout the past three decades, a yearly pilgrimage to the city that gave birth to techno — a genre that adds life, emotion and unexplainable happiness to the life of countless music aficionados around the world.

Many who have never been to Detroit, or who have at least never been there during Movement weekend, ask about the city’s safety with a quizzical and skeptical tone. It’s understandable, I suppose, considering the Detroit’s reputation and its unfortunate trajectory since the auto industry began its decline over the last few decades. Yet every single such question found on Facebook is met with legitimate and honest responses, all explaining just how amazing Detroit and its people are during this magical weekend at the end of May. It doesn’t matter if the sun is shining down on Hart Plaza or if it’s pouring down with rain throughout the weekend (remember 2013?), the entire spirit of Movement is one of elation, a true celebration of life through the sounds of Detroit techno pioneers and more current favorites alike.

While still today Movement remains the biggest techno/house gathering in North America, it’s not unusual to see U.S. and Canadian residents take flight over the Atlantic to attend techno festivals on the other side of the pond. There is no question that the production and size of festival brands such as Awakenings and Time Warp offer a completely different experience to Movement’s, but the atmosphere and feeling of camaraderie that can be felt in Detroit during Memorial Day Weekend remains, without a sheer of a doubt, incomparable to that of any other festival of its kind around the world. And it’s not just about the festival itself, for “Movement” as we refer to it is an experience that goes far beyond the confines of Hart Plaza, reaching wide and permeating through the walls of every single venue, large and small, that hosts day and nighttime after-parties throughout the extended weekend.

We have counted 60-plus parties so far this year, with more still yet to be announced. The truth is that if you’re in Detroit during Movement weekend it doesn’t really matter which stage you choose to spend most of your hours at, or which of the tens of after-parties you decide to lose sleep for: Movement Detroit is truly unlike any other techno festival experience in the world.

Movement does what dance music has sought out to do since its inception. It brings people of all walks of life, age, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and even music taste together in a way that a lot of other festivals don’t quite seem to be able to do anymore. Take a walk around Hart Plaza in between sets and you can see this with your very own two eyes: it doesn’t matter which scene you come from, if you’re a teen or someone’s grandparent, if you love bass music or prefer the harder techno found at the Underground Stage, there is a definite feeling of togetherness and family at Movement that is unrivaled at any other festival in the world I have been to.

Truthfully, it’s hard to put into words why Movement is the special and unique experience that it is. I suppose it’s something you have to see experience in person to truly understand.

If you aren’t heading to Detroit in less than two weeks we truly encourage you to make last-minute plans to join us. You can get ready for Movement by reading our complete review from last year’s edition, and don’t forget to grab yourself a pair of DownBeats ear plugs by using promo code ‘MOVEMENT17’ for 20% off your order, valid only if you purchase through our site.

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