Anthropologically speaking ...

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The tribes drawn to Detroit's annual orgy of electronica — those looking to get lost in a hypnotic overdose of BPMs (that's Beats Per Minute, Mom) travel to the Motor City from as far away as, say, rural Iowa, Montreal, the Netherlands, Japan and ... oh, I don't know ... Frenchlick, Ind. There's always a Flint contingent in the mix, and we heard rumors of a Craigslist-organized shuttle you can take from Kalamazoo; it's, supposedly, full of Chicago house kids, post-jock WMU hippie-wannabes with bubblers and cargo shorts and a couple Lake Michigan meth-heads who don't know their gums from their ass.

And, each year, the amped-up cross-section of Detroit's hip-hop and electronic music producers and DJs (of global and underground clout), promoters, club kids, ravers and average schmoes come out to remind the world why Detroit is still Ground Zero for simultaneous partying and appreciating music. There's just somethin' about this city ...

People also filter through Movement because the people-watching's out of control. Glowstickers of all shapes and sizes wander Hart Plaza like zombies in search of Tesla. Not just the Candy Kids — never underestimate a glowsticker; they're fuckin' chameleons.

The following is a rough (we could publish a book on this stuff!) anthropological survey of some of the subsets you can observe at Movement 2009, Detroit's Electronic Music Festival. Remember to bring a plastic flask, lots of water, a pair of binoculars and a couple bucks for food, Detroit-centric attire, a pair of sunglasses ('cause you totally forgot yours!), or, something you can wear that glows ... if that's how you get down.

Old-School Detroit Techno/Rave Set

PROFILE: They're those folks lingering backstage, sometimes wandering on stage to whisper something into a DJ's ear, or mix one cut, or just take some pics of the crowd from the front of the stage. They're a calm bunch these days; some pull off dated styles, sport dark shades, short cuts or shaved heads. Laminated things hang around their necks. They might seem in deep thought to the passer-by, but that's just how their face rests now. Unless you catch 'em on Day 1, they're generally worn-out from having just traveled from somewhere. Seemingly sober — at least during the day.

HAILING FROM: Detroit, Mich.

ATTIRE: Simple. Jeans and a black T, sunglasses, clean sneakers or nice leather shoes. If it's cold, a hoodie will suffice.

THERE TO: Work, network, reminisce, party.

DRUG OF CHOICE: If they still party, then a little bit of everything over the course of the weekend.

Kandi Kids

PROFILE: How can you miss 'em? Aw, aren't they cute, that dazed and confused, harmless Rainbow Brite bunch of kids congregating in Hart Plaza every year to bask in all of their glowing glory? Watch your wallets, they're sneaky little bastards. That tattoo? Oh, it's supposed to look like that? Kandi ravers, often the central subject of the age-old "How young?" "Too young." exchange.

HAILING FROM: Southern Ohio, Port Huron, Pinckney, Downriver, most places where you can find a Wal-Mart, a Bass Pro Shop and an overgrown field. Kandi kids are mostly born in places where agriculture meets industry, like out by the airport ...

ATTIRE: Visors, baggy-ass mid-'90s pants, wife-beaters, bracelets, backpacks, pigtails, marker, neon, black eyes, mouth sores.

THERE TO: Take drugs, glow-stick-dance, shimmy, massage, chew on shit, dehydrate and contract something.

DRUG OF CHOICE: Ecstasy, pot, Marlboro Lights.

Goth Ravers

PROFILE: Wait, aren't those Juggalos? Well, yes and no. Sure, they look depressed ... till the X kicks in! Goth ravers provide bipolar at its best. See, there's nothing quite like seeing a cutter from the sticks with neon-green dreads and more chains on their pants than a Gitmo detainee get a groove on while chowing down on baby bro's pacifier. As for the scars running up their arms? Don't ask, don't tell.

HAILING FROM: Blue-collar basements and Spencer Gifts blacklight poster sections.

ATTIRE: Everything black, everything baggy, everything generally goth-clown. Black eyeliner, studded black leather bracelets and black nail polish.

THERE TO: Provide punch lines, frown, instigate with passers-by, complain about all the electronic music.

DRUG OF CHOICE: Cough syrup, downtown brown, Five O'Clock vodka and Kool-Aid.

Hippie/Rasta Raver

PROFILE: Nothin' beats white-boy dreads with beads, dashikis, baggy khakis with Birkenstocks and hemp bracelets. Know why? They have the best buds and attract generally hot chicks. These rasta ravers are unusually tall dudes with sad facial hair. Watch out for the girls in olive-green tank tops 'cause they might be juggling glass orbs, like Bowie in Labyrinth. Girls are generally dressed like the guys only they tie their tye-dyed T-shirts just above the piercing in their belly button. You know, so you see it.

HAILING FROM: College towns — originally from burbs like Rochester Hills, Shelby Township, Bloomfield and Ferndale.

ATTIRE: Dreads with beads and dread nets or baseball caps, dashikis, baggy khakis with Birkenstocks and hemp bracelets.

THERE TO: See how high they can get, get lost (or just look like it), use their iPhones, hacky sack.

DRUG OF CHOICE: Shrooms, ganja, morning glory seeds.

Rap Scene

PROFILE: With turntables, mixers and sequencers in abundance, not to mention acts like RJD2 and Afrika Bambaataa on the bill, Detroit's rap aficionados come out to scope the scene and talk on wireless headsets ... a lot!

HAILING FROM: East side! West side! Southwest!

ATTIRE: Polo shirts or super-huge white T's and baggy shorts, gold chains and fitted Detroit Tigers baseball caps. Custom kicks and designer jeans. Almost forgot the hipster shades — thanks, Kanye.

THERE TO: Dig beats, network, question what the hell those goth kids are doing chewing on pacifiers.

DRUG OF CHOICE: Blunts and Hennessy.

Backpackers & Breakdancers

PROFILE: Backpackers and breakdancers are all about circles. They travel in packs, stopping to talk in semicircles, while circling around Hart Plaza. In the event that circle is closed, more likely than not, someone's gonna start poppin' and lockin' in the center. They're a mild-mannered crew... unless you step into the circle.

HAILING FROM: Everywhere.

THERE TO: Dig tunes, get numbers, dance.

ATTIRE: Backpacks, tilted caps, over-the-ear headphones, bandanas tied around wrists, fatigues, jerseys and tightly laced kicks.

DRUG OF CHOICE: Somethin' you could pass around a circle.

Hipster Set

PROFILE: Frequenting the city's trendiest monthly dance parties and can't-miss concerts, the hipsters are just trying to have a good time ... while looking cooler than you.

THERE TO: Take pictures for Facebook.

HAILING FROM: Vice, Pitchfork,, Ferndale and Woodbridge

ATTIRE: Pencil jeans, American Apparel short shorts and calf to thigh-high striped socks. Custom kicks and worn Converse. Oversized shades. Dudes in open flannel short sleeves, cut-off jean shorts (ironically cut just below the scrotum) headbands and Aviators.

DRUG OF CHOICE: Whatever they're doing in Berlin ...

Cops, Wanderers & Squares

PROFILE: Uniform cops smile and undercover cops show no emotion, so if you see some dude in ill-fitting jean shorts, a buzz cut and shades that people who own speedboats wear, he's a cop. And thus can get you the best drugs in town. Not to be confused with undercover coppers, there's always those stray, creepy-looking and middle-aged white guys wandering about the festival. Maybe they're looking for their daughters, who've run away with some kandi clique, or maybe they just like to see people sweat, but either way they stick out like a sore on a hot chick's lip. Some have mullets, others have fanny packs, but none look like they're ready to let loose to a Derrick May set.

HAILING FROM: Air-conditioned living rooms and golf-themed cubicles

THERE TO: Still trying to figure this one out.

ATTIRE: See your dad.

DRUG OF CHOICE: Twelve hours away from the wife?

Travis R. Wright is arts and culture editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
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