The Heyday of Rave

A throbbing strobe, booming bass, kids worshiping the speakers in total abandon — all in a dark warehouse decorated only in black plastic. The DJ had the crowd anticipating every move, taking their minds on a trip they could have never foreseen. The focus was so intense, the communication among the DJ, the music and the crowd so immediate, so transcendent, that practically everyone present started doing something to further develop the scene: from DJing, producing and promoting to writing, flier design and so on. A new culture was born in the shadows of a fading party scene. These were the settings of Detroit’s early raves.

Just how did Detroit evolve from the "party" to the "rave"? Kids who got their inspiration at such clubs as the Music Institute and from the ideals of the Detroit underground started throwing parties in the void of the early ’90s, when so many of Detroit’s producers had their eyes and record crates overseas.

One of the best and most trendsetting of these crews was Voom, which, with its quirky party names (Pow, Splat, Cindy’s Cat) and high-quality events, pretty much set the standard for Detroit parties. Voom was also the first to collaborate with Richie Hawtin, whose name and reputation drew in many new kids and whose DJ sets changed lives. Out of this scene came a new generation, and the concept of the "rave" had finally made it to Detroit.

Upgrade your System

Born in the days of 1217 Griswold in early ’94, throwing parties such as "Hard to Believe" with Sasha and Derrick May, Dean Major and crew started throwing parties inspired by Hawtin and Voom’s lead. One of the leaders of this new scene, Major staked his claim with his crew Syst3m, which focused on throwing larger-scale parties, exposing more new talent to Detroit partygoers and doing it with more frequency than other crews. The attention to detail of his parties is still unmatched in Detroit — incorporating the best in design (always the best fliers by dig dug) and sound to make an experience worth remembering. Syst3m parties brought us a lot of firsts: Green Velvet in a green wig; live, robot fliers; DJ Dara (the first jungle DJ to not clear the dance floor in Detroit) and events with more live shows than DJs (aka electronic concerts). But the focus was always on having a good time.

On Saturday, Nov. 20, Syst3m celebrates its three-year anniversary with an extended set from John Acquaviva, a tag-team set from Terry Mullen and Charles Feelgood, and another tag-team set from Derek Plaslaiko and Keith Kemp. Call 313-438-3146 or 248-988-1174 for info — tickets at Record Time (Roseville or Ferndale).

Post-Casino Nightlife

The Detroit nightlife is at a crossroads. The rave scene has mutated and after-hours events are in overabundance. Some parties have even become sort of Rave-A-Paloozas, but without the organization it takes to make large events fly. Take the recent Cobo Arena incident, a full-fledged party with fewer than 100 people showing up to the arena (and this following a party by the same promoters that ran out of electricity by 1 a.m.). There need to be more venues, and there needs to be more energy put into the planning of these events.

One man you can count on for a solid event is Richie Hawtin, and this weekend (Saturday, Nov. 6, to be exact) he’ll be debuting his Decks, Efx and 909 show in celebration of his release of the same name on M-Nus/Novamute Records at "Kompress" in Windsor (info 519-259-4322 or check their Web site).

And with approximately six clubs about to open, Detroit nightlife will be given a chance to take a new shape and direction. Here’s to the future. ...

Scroll to read more Culture articles


Join Detroit Metro Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.