Over Memorial weekend I chilled downtown in Detroit’s Hart Plaza with thousands of tech-heads while beautiful drum and base blared in the background and candy ravers danced around me. The festival which never seems to disappoint, boasted 60,000 attendees and had big name techno names such as Derek Plastiko, Par Grindvik, and even Moby.
Besides the great music the people watching was amazing. People from all kinds of backgrounds gathered into Hart Plaza, many dressed in neon outfits chomping on children’s pacifiers all while entranced dancing to the music. Sure many were on some sort of mind altering substances, but it was a great sight. Only at the Detroit techno fest would you ever see a grown woman dressed as a sexy polar bear on a hot day in May. Although I must admit this year wasn’t as shocking as others I’ve spent at the festival. About four years ago I saw a man totally naked walking around so proudly of himself until being taken into police custody. Because of the recent addition of entrance fees along with added security, The festival has seemed to have gone through a water-downed commercialized transformation of itself. For the festival goers who have came over the last ten years, this is an obvious observation.
The Electronic Music Festival at a time became an implemented tradition amongst my friends and I. It was a place where we could go and guarantee that you’d meet people from all over the world. From all different backgrounds with a unified love for techno. Every memorial weekend as teenagers we’d meet up with our pre-rolled contraband, along with other mind altering substances and 20 oz. bottles of pop or juice mixed with our liquor of choice. We would spend the entire day on the lawn near the river playing hacky sack, and working on our tans. Then move our party over to the big stage once the sun went down. The environment was perfect, thousands of people partying under the sun and stars, to drum and bass by hundreds of performers for free. Let me just say, that although all good things come to an end I miss those days.
I understand the massive undertaking it is to produce an event at that magnitude of Movement for no admission. But the Hodown is put on at the same venue with just as big names on stage, in a genre of music with an even more widely accepted fan base, and still no longer charges admission. Since the festival has started to charged, it has taken something great away from it. The attendance may have gone up this year from the previous three years but it was nothing compared to what the festival was like when the event was free. Even early in the day the grounds of heart plaza would be packed, with thousands of techno fans.By night fall all you could see in heart plaza would be a sea of people.
So I am making a plea to Paxahau, bring back the glory days of Detroit’s techno festival. There is no doubt that they have done good for keeping the yearly event alive. But there has to be a way that the festival can remain true to it’s roots as a free event and still remain profitable through vendors and sponsors.