Uniting Through Movement: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival

Photo ©Kent Koller

DETROIT — Music drives our emotions, fills our senses, and connects us in ways few art forms can.  The pulse of our own bodies, our heartbeat, the melodic journey that speaks of our own personal experiences, along with our primal, instinctual urge to dance is all fulfilled in one glorious weekend in Hart Plaza, Detroit MI.  The Movement Music Festival happens every year on Memorial Day weekend, where thousands of people from across the globe gather to share the energy, music, food, and a social atmosphere that is not only profoundly entertaining, but also uniquely uniting.

Having been a consistent attendee of the festival, I have seen its growth, met many people, and have been privileged to experience this event from a few different perspectives.  As a musician, I recognize the quality and effort of producing a show, particularly running multiple stages, security, and accommodations.  As a photographer, I appreciate the visual delicacies and the day to night transformation, which allows for a wonderful breadth of photographic variety and beauty.  But what brings it all together is found within the people that attend, the vast array of age, race, citizenship, and personalities that unite for one weekend to be free from conformity.

During last year’s Movement festival, a gentleman was walking around early in the afternoon, and he approached me while holding a business folder in hand.  At first I was thinking he was going to try and sell me something, but as I soon found out, he wasn’t selling anything.  He simply was going around, asking people to help him create a list.  He called it a “To-Don’t List”, a creative take on the more common “To-Do List”.  There was no standard or rules to what you could contribute to this To-Don’t List.  Anything goes, as wacky or as profound as you want to be.  I wrote down:

“Don’t drink the water from the Hart Plaza Fountain.”

I told him that this was a great, surprising contribution to the event, and a creative one.  I found out he was an investment banker from California.  So, here I am, talking to someone who has to wear a tie for a living, and he’s going around creating a To-Don’t List while having a great time being a part of the biggest party in Detroit.   This is just one example of the multitude of people I met, and this is partially what is so intriguing to me.

There is the “Disco Granny”, who attends every year, zipping around in her electric chair, taking photos of people, conversing with people one-tenth her age.  Mothers bring their babies and children (with earmuffs please), proving how EDM has crossed generations in its relatively short existence. People wear costumes more readily than a Halloween party, sometimes covered in paint, or sometimes little more than some fishnets.  I met people from every continent, except Antarctica (still crossing my fingers there is a lonely scientist just waiting to come to Movement Music Festival).  I’ve witnessed people offering water to strangers, taking care of their neighbor, making sure we all stay safe and hydrated.  This is, after all, about having a good time, and nothing ruins a good time like seeing a fellow concert attendee having an unsafe time.

In the time of increased security and more restriction for concert attendees overall, Movement Festival still fulfills a rather stress-free time by making an effort to allow items to be brought inside the festival, such as umbrellas, strollers, blankets, binoculars, small backpacks for clothing, refillable water bottles, and sunscreen.  They also provide lockers for a nominal charge.  Gone unfortunately are the days of bringing in cameras with detachable lenses, much to my disappointment (this started about 5 years ago).  This is after all, one of the most photo-worthy events in Detroit or Michigan, if not the nation.  I look forward to being able to document the magic that this festival possesses, meet the people that constitute its humanity and energy, and help grow the social, musical unification that Movement Music Festival exemplifies.

Movement: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival returns to Hart Plaza, May 26-28, 2018. For tickets and more information, be sure to visit http://movement.us/


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