Co-written by Dave Walker (

Detroit is home to some of the earliest steps in the evolution of techno, and has an established scene to go along with it. In Detroit, the DJs are skilled, the music is incredible, and the crowd knows the difference. The scene is small, close-knit, integrated, and very underground.

"Detroit-style" techno [surprisingly enough : )] and deep house are by far the predominant styles. Hard trance (particularly acid) and Chicago house also make a strong showing.

Progressive house and breaks are rare, but will occasionally turn up in some sets. Gabber is despised by all of the local jocks and never gets played here. The larger events will sometimes have chill rooms, but ambience hasn't made a huge splash here.

Detroit is unusual in that there aren't any big promotion outfits -- individuals and small groups in the scene tend to partner together on an ad-hoc basis to throw parties.

A road trip to Detroit is definitely recommended, as most of the DJs rarely travel outside of the city, which is home to one of the most competitive DJ scenes out there. Some, like Jeff Mills and Derrick May, are rarely sighted even in Detroit.

For those who spin vinyl, a road trip to Detroit is worthwhile if only to visit Record Time. It may not seem like an impressive store upon first entering, but it's well stocked with Detroit labels (+8/Probe, Transmat/Fragile, KMS, Definitive, Generator, Accelerate, Axis, UR, just to name a few...), and is reasonably well stocked with imports. The sales staff is knowledgeable and you get to listen to records before you buy, like in any good store.

Recommended DJs

Derrick May: [Dave]: doesn't spin often, but when he does *whew*. Plays a wide variety of styles. [Sho]: Derrick, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins, form the so-called holy trinity of techno. All are impressive. All spin a combination of detroit house and detroit techno, but Kevin and Juan tend to lean toward more of a housey sound. Complex, musical, and wonderful.

Jeff Mills: [Dave]: once again, doesn't spin often, plays hard Detroit-style techno, sometimes will spin house. Technique-wise, the most amazing DJ I've ever seen. [Sho]: technically superb, but hard to dance to. One of the fastest, if not the fastest at executing a mix. Always generates a large crowd along with gaping jaws. Doesn't spin in the US a lot. Catch him when you can.

Richie Hawtin: [Dave]: Spins a variety of styles, mostly on the harder end of the spectrum. Likes to spin long sets; a wizard of set construction. [Sho]: Spins house and techno, likes weird polyrhthmic stuff, but isn't afraid to play the crowd. Strangely, the house he spins is more like club house than detroit house. Still, an excellent DJ.

T-1000: [Dave]: Some have knocked his technique, but I've never seen another DJ get as worked up as him during a set -- he'll start a record, dance around like a madman, then run back behind the tables to mix the next record... Spins acid & hard trance. [Sho]: Lots of energy, plays un-housey techno, unlike most other Detroit DJs. He is also the man who draws the labels for DJAX-UP records.

[Dave]: Juan Atkins, Eddie "Flashin'" Fowlkes, Carl Craig, and other area "techno celebrities" occasionally spin at parties, but I haven't heard them enough to say much about their styles or DJ talent. Often though, it's coole enough just to watch these guys who make such great records out cutting it up live on a Saturday night... :)

[Dave]: D. Wynn, Mike Huckaby, Jetstream, Stacy Hale, Bone, etc. -- the "old dependables", as I like to call them, can be found just about every weekend playing at one party or another. All of them have top skills.

Info Lines

the Underground Info Line: 313.927.HOUSE
SmilEE: 313.996.9694

Record Stores

RecordTime -- 25110 Gratiot, Roseville, MI: 313.775.1550


The Temple, at Woodward & 7 Mile, is currently the club of choice. The DJ lineup varies weekly.

The Shelter (on Saturdays at St. Andrew's Hall) occasionally presents credible techno, but call ahead of time to find out who's spinning.

Radio Stations

"Deep Space Radio" on WGPR (107.5 FM) on Saturday nights from 12-4AM.

For the Ann Arbor area (this station is only sporadically receivable in metro Detroit) there's Crush Collision on Thursday nights (at 10PM, I think).

WHYT (96.3 FM) on weekend nights (from about 10PM on) plays a schizo mix of Top 40 dance hits and deep house. Go figure... :)

Last Updated 7/6/94