By Marjolaine Casteigt
1. Stay at the Host of Detroit hostel in Corktown on Vermont Street.
It is the only youth hostel in the city, a non-profit association active since 2014, and it is certainly the coolest in the world. Living in a happy household for a short stay in Detroit is possible. The atmosphere is relaxed, the organization impeccable, the prices are ultra affordable, the playlist masterful. His housekeepers, Zach and Evan, are very attentive to the well-being of their guests and communicate – in addition to their good humor – lots of good plans for a total immersion in the city. Downtown, the city center, is only a few minutes by car or bicycle. The most in Corktown is its local community: associations, urban gardens, cultural projects like Assemble Sound and its church converted into a concert hall and studio, artists and young entrepreneurs with Ponyride, the space of co-working to visit to discover the new and creative blood of the city … These places make this ” neighborhood “, The oldest in Detroit, a lively place at the forefront of the solidarity economy.
2. Take the usual tourist route in Pat’s van, Show me Detroit.
Detroit is huge, and so are the distances. Before you rush into it solo, better let Pat clear your path. In a few hours, we take full eyes and we see everything that we have to see, in burst mode: the city center, its art-deco style and its new constructions, Belle Isle Park, the old central station , the Packard factory, the revival districts, but also whole blocks of gutted houses, not to mention the legendary Heidelberg Project. This initiatory journey is necessary to take one’s bearings. Pat knows the history of Detroit at his fingertips, from the crisis to the renaissance, from the heyday of Motown to the birth of techno. Plus: it’s with great humor that the guide likes to reveal salty anecdotes and a few well-kept secrets.
Mayor of Detroit meets tech pioneers to help revive the city
3. Rent a bike and get lost in the city of the automobile.
The bicycle is the new trend that turns a blind eye to the both glorious and disastrous past of the automotive sector. Shops here and there allow you to borrow a bike for $ 20 a day. Host of Detroit also has a small rental park; Motor City is in fact the ideal place for this ecological mode of transport. The sidewalks are wide and the city is relatively flat. It is however recommended to remain attentive to traffic and to respect the highway code. Advantage: we still avoid a lot of taxi expenses. Everyone in Detroit will tell you, the public transportation system is not recommended. On the other hand, to get to know Downtown, you can now travel on the new tram, the recently inaugurated Q-Line, and take a ride in the famous Detroit People Mover, a sort of yellow mini-RER with a circular route.
4. Go to the museum: the techno museum first, at Submerge headquarters.
In a life of techno fan, and if you are in the city where it was born, it is highly recommended to visit the small museum installed on the ground floor of the headquarters of Underground Resistance and Submerge on Grand Boulevard. Movement pioneers like John Collins greet visitors (by appointment) and tell the story. And by the way, we are easily tempted by a record or a T-Shirt to support the good cause of a historic and fiercely independent label. See also to understand the musical soul of the city: the Motown Records museum (Histville, USA), but also the contemporary art center, MOCAD, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African -American History, the Henri Ford museum, without forgetting the essential Heidelberg project, an ode to the open-air city, founded by artist Tyree Guyton in 1986.
5. To dig into Detroit, the must is Detroit Threads.
The Detroit Threads record store is located in Hamtramck, an outer, glued town in Detroit, which is said to be, “It’s Detroit anyway. A taxi or Uber is essential to get there, but it’s worth the effort. The house specialty: techno and house galore. Otherwise, the store has a wide choice of records, from funk to soul to jazz and rock. You can also bargain there delusional thrift stores, and other T-shirts and accessories in the colors of the city. The other vinyl shops highly recommended by Vince Patricola, DJ and boss of DEQ magazine, a quarterly devoted to techno culture: Hello Records in Corktown, Peoples Records in Eastern Market, Stay Pressed (Rust Belt Market), Found Sound (Ferndale) and Paramita Sound (West Village). Besides, take advantage of your stay to get the DEQ. The magazine is sold with a beautiful homemade pressed disc!
6. Take a stroll through Eastern Market, another neighborhood that is on the rise.
Eastern Market is Detroit reborn. Saturday is particularly busy. Street musicians rock the walk along the covered market where the stalls are full of all the good products from local urban farms. Eastern Market is also renowned for the giant barbecue at Bert’s, a must-see jazz and blues club, and for its numerous restaurants, galleries, bars, and shops. Do not hesitate to push the doors of these places of the new Detroit, to chat with young citizens very invested, and take the pulse of this renaissance so much related. To observe everywhere around the buildings and the facades of the hangars, the gargantuan wall frescoes produced by street artists from the city.
Detroit: ruined, the city of techno revives thanks to urban agriculture
7. Try to find the address of the most underground private club in the city.
Of course, there are plenty of places to go out and listen to good music. Are you more hip-hop? So here is your non-exhaustive list, if you want to plunge into the heart of a singular scene and attend shows that sometimes do not count more than a hundred people: The Baltimore Gallery, The Old Miami, and Bob’s Classic Kicks. For techno and house, here are four places highly appreciated by artists and connoisseurs: Motor City Wine, Mix Bricktown, Marble Bar (at MOCAD) and the TV Lounge club. However, to find THE most underground techno club in the city whose address is known to around thirty people, you will first have to meet the illustrious G. Smoove, its goalkeeper. We give you a hint: the club is in the basely from a neighborhood house somewhere in Detroit. Beware of the Dog.
8. If you missed the Movement Festival, let yourself be tempted by the Charivari Detroit in 2017.
With its legendary programming, the Movement Festival brews thousands of international tourists each year. If you missed it last May, don’t miss the Charivari Festival on Belle Isle, Detroit Central Park, a little haven of peace and greenery on the St. Clair River. This year, it takes place from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 August. This is the family gathering of electronic music Made In Detroit. “It’s a great festival, focusing on the local scene, with artists who have been making Detroit sound for years. Very good performances! “ sums up Vincent Patricola from DEQ, who knows a little bit about it.
9. Go to church to celebrate music with Assemble Sound.
Assemble Sound has only been around since 2014. The project is very representative of the cultural renaissance of the city. This collective of young music professionals settled in Corktown, in a quirky church, just a few meters from the huge central station. Inside, we no longer say mass. From indie rock to pop, hip-hop to techno and house, this is the sound of the new Detroit scene that we are celebrating. Downstairs, long wooden benches face the altar. The public participates in exchanges with resident artists, and concerts are held there. Upstairs, the church has been converted to a recording studio with a collaborative workspace. The collective also offers training. While waiting to visit this very unique place, it will be possible to discover the groups of the vintage Assemble Sound in France this summer, and for some, it will be their first date in Europe! Take a short detour to the Les Escales de Saint-Nazaire festival, from July 28 to 30. Check out the special Detroit lineup, which skillfully blends the big names in techno with the city’s ultra-emerging scene.
10. Push doors in and you’ll quickly come up with a top 100 great things to do in Detroit.
We can never advise you enough to chat with the people of Detroit, very welcoming and always ready to tell you their own story about Motor City. Ride in taxis, climb on a bike, get lost, push doors, enter the gardens and buildings, talk with the neighbor at the end of the street, meet the local association, observe its ruins but also its reconstruction and its new urban architecture… you will discover its new face. Also note that there are a multitude of free activities, so enjoy it! For zero dollars, for example: visit the huge complex of seven skyscrapers belonging to General Motors, the Renaissance Center (RenCen for friends), or go for the tourist route with the Detroit Experience Factory. And if not, get all the information you need from the Visit Detroit tourist office and, by the way, the book “100 things to do in Detroit before you die” (“100 things to do in Detroit before to die”). Local humor. Anyway, Detroit is alive and well, we assure you. Chills guaranteed.
To fulfill the wish to visit Motor City, the Icelandic airline WOW Air now has a low-cost Paris-Detroit route, with 4 flights per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday). The price for a one-way trip via Reykjavik is set at € 145.99, and it is possible to extend your leg in Iceland for one-way or return for an unlimited period at no cost. Information and reservations can be found on the company’s website.
Number # 219 from Trax Magazine, dedicated to Detroit, is now available on newsstands and on the online store.