We're not sure if this town is big enough for that factory-sized techno club

click to enlarge We're not sure if this town is big enough for that factory-sized techno club
Andrew Jameson (Wikimedia Commons)

You've probably already heard about one Dimitri Hegemann, the "techno entrepreneur" who transformed a Berlin department store into a now-legendary nightclub, with his sights now set on doing the same in Detroit's old Fisher Body 21 plant. It's a romantic idea, filled with peace, love, and techno — exactly the kind of thing that people love to write about when writing about Detroit.

But Vice is asking the tough questions nobody else is asking: Is a Berlin-style techno club what this town really needs

"The reality is that outside of Movement festival weekend, the market for techno events in Detroit is relatively small," author Ashley Zlatopolsky notes, pointing out that a much smaller club like The Works "still scrambles to pack out their parties" on a regular basis. The article also notes the high turnover rate for clubs in the city, casting doubts on whether the scene is large enough to sustain a club as the size of the proposed Fisher Body Plant 21.

But demand seems to be increasing. Just last week, Ferndale's Grasshopper Underground expanded into a second floor, the "Grasshopper Studio," a "small upstairs bar with a more relaxed, low-lit lounge type of feel," says Asher Perkins, a DJ who is also the social media and marketing manager for Grasshopper (and, full disclosure, also happens to be one of my buds). He says Grasshopper is in the process of installing TVs that will broadcast the DJ playing in the club downstairs to the bar upstairs, but at a much lower, conversation-friendly volume.

Sure, that's a small expansion — not a factory's worth of ravers by any stretch. But it shows that smaller clubs aren't exactly hurting for bodies. Still, Perkins is doubtful whether a Berlin-style exclusively techno club can survive in this city.

"I think they will be forced into doing things they don't want to do musically in order to pay the bills," he says, noting that there presently isn't a single club anywhere in Michigan that is solely techno.

"I would love it if it did, though. It would be great to see a club dedicated to the more traditional, industrial techno sound of Detroit and Berlin," he adds.

We're hopeful too. But we have our doubts. We're curious about the cost of prepping and rehabbing such an enormous ruin, and its proposed capacity. There's no doubt about the fact that it sure sounds cool, though.

What do you think? Want in on the conversation? Hegemann himself will be in town this weekend to discuss "The Detroit-Berlin Connection" and his plans for the Fisher Body 21 plant from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 29 at Trinosophes, 1464 Gratiot, Detroit. More information is available here.

Maybe it's like Field of Dreams — "If you build it, they will come."

About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland "Lee" DeVito grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where he read Metro Times religiously due to teenaged-induced boredom. He became a contributing writer for Metro Times in 2009, and Editor in Chief in 2016. In addition to writing, he also supplies occasional illustrations. His writing has been published...
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