Every year during Memorial Day weekend (late May) in downtown Detroit, tens of thousands of sweaty music lovers gather at Hart Plaza for the Movement Electronic Music Festival. While countless indistinguishable music festivals take place across the globe these days, Movement is set in the birthplace of techno music—and today hosts a stellar lineup of world famous DJs along with an organic homegrown salute to the local artists of Detroit.
Top DJs who have performed at the Movement Electronic Music Festival include A-Trak, Adriatique, Carl Cox, Derrick May, Diplo, Fatboy Slim, Jacques Greene, Model 500, Richie Hawtin and Skrillex. Movement has also received numerous accolades including “Best Niche Festival” by Rolling Stone (2011), #1 on list of “10 Outstanding Music Fests” by the New York Post (2010) and “Best Annual Event” by the Real Detroit Weekly reader’s survey from 2010 to 2013 inclusive.
With over 100,000 people attending the 2015 festival, Movement is a dance music extravaganza, featuring six technologically rich stages, more than 100 artists, free WiFi access, VIP access and dozens of official after parties. Organized by Paxahau, Movement is not only a place to party hard and hear great music, it’s a place of discovery and inspiration, incorporating an interactive technology center featuring the hottest gadgets and local artworks. Over the years, despite facing financial cutbacks and a depleted urban population in Detroit, Movement continues to epitomize the flavor and culture of techno music and has a solid commercial music base that should see it into the future.
Movement Electronic Music Festival – A Colorful History
Movement has its origins as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF), which kicked off in 2000 and was held each Memorial Day weekend in Detroit’s Hart Plaza until 2002. City leaders and tourism officials applauded the inaugural event as an injection of youthful energy into the city, with over a million festivalgoers surpassing attendance expectations.
Following this was Movement (2003–2004), Fuse-In (2005) and the Movement Electronic Music Festival (2006–present), with each name change reflecting shifts in festival management. While all of these festivals continued the DEMF’s traditions by featuring performances that emphasized the progressive qualities of the culture surrounding electronic music, the event over the years has had its fair share of funding issues, management challenges and financial losses. Paxahau, which has been producing the event since 2006, has, however, grown the event to become one of the world’s top electronic music festivals, steadily carrying on the tradition of representing underground artists, rising stars and musical icons.
In late 2013, the original DEMF management announced plans for the return of the DEMF as a free-admission event at Campus Martius Park on Independence Day weekend (early July) in 2014, along with the paid-admission Federation of Electronic Music Technology (FEMT), a concurrent conference and music showcase at Ford Field. These events are not connected to Movement, which will continue to be held during the Memorial Day weekend in Hart Plaza and host over 100 musical artists. The good news for fans is that a lot of techno talent is set to flow into Detroit this year.
More than Music
Sweaty music lovers can look forward to more than thumping bass and beats at the Movement Electronic Music Festival. Over the last few years the three-day event has showcased a selection of wild art installations designed specifically for Movement, thanks to CAMP (Community Arts Moving Projects) Detroit. The CAMP Detroit program offers stipends to artists who live in or around Detroit and have a “strong connection” to the city. Individuals and teams of artists receive $1,500 each to create pieces of art for the festival, congregating for several weeks ahead of the event in the CAMP studio to develop artworks for Movement. Following the festival, artworks are then moved to other locations around Detroit.
Deluxe in Detroit
While many electronic music events can expect to have festivalgoers camp across several days with basic amenities (think portable toilets and baby wipes), Movement’s attendees can opt to stay in relative luxury at a variety of local hostels and hotels nearby. Certainly, campsites are available, but for those willing to pay extra, accommodations—complete with twin beds, double beds and spectacular views of the city—are available adjacent to Hart Plaza.
Music lovers can also purchase VIP passes, which include a private check-in area, special seating with access to a large area above and behind the main stage, a private bar that includes six complimentary drink tickets, discounted drinks and private executive bathroom trailers.