Movement Electronic Music Festival (aka DEMF): A noob survival guide

For those who don’t already know, Movement, commonly referred to as DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival), is one of the largest electronic music events in the Midwest, and it has been held in some form or fashion every Memorial Day Weekend since 2000.

Boasting lineups filled with electronic superstars and hundreds of thousands of attendees from all over the globe, Movement is one of the electronic music scene’s core elements year after year.

For more of the history, check out the following:
Part 2
Part 3

Photo by Jack Shepler

You can get a history lesson on Google, Wikipedia, or hundreds of other places on the web. I really wanted to get to the meat of things, and talk to some of my friends, who are seasoned veterans of the event, and put together a quick reference or “survivor’s guide” to the festival.

Here’s a quick list from over 30 years of collective experience:

* You can’t take any food or drink inside hart plaza, not even water. so don’t. They will check bags and purses. But plenty of food there. Everything fried, fair food, one nice fruit stand.

* It usually rains at least one day/evening of the event, but the event goes on. So bring a poncho, and some sandals or flip flops as precaution (no one likes dancing in wet socks)
Check the weather before you head to the festival each day.

* Detroit cabbies will try to hustle you if you take a cab. Ask for an estimate on how much your ride will cost before you close the door to the cab after getting in. And verify that the meter is actually running.

* Detroit people mover is only 50 cents. (Might have gone up from last year.) Bus is more expensive.

* Have printouts of your pre-sale ticket receipts with you. For both the festival and after-parties. Just as precaution.

* Make sure you get the event program so that you can have the timeslots in your pocket – or print off a timeslot sheet before you leave for the festival. Check the schedule HERE!

* Prioritize your list of people you want to see and make sure you don’t have overlapping slots of acts you are wanting to see – just a good way to keep you on task and make sure you don’t miss something you will regret

* Set up meeting places and times for you and your friends. Phones go dead, and get broken. “Meet me at the fountain at midnight, just in case” can save your ass if you don’t know what the plans of your friends are.

* Charge your phone religiously. Maybe even bring an extra charger with you for emergencies.

* If you drive up through Toledo on I-75 PAY ATTENTION as you are entering Detroit. Due to construction and occasional detours, people have actually accidentally crossed the bridge into Canada before, accidentally. If you do so on accident, they WILL search your entire vehicle. And it’s customs, so you have no rights in the matter.

* Take 69 to Ft Wayne over through Ohio. Do not go up then straight over. Too many cops, takes longer, and more deer.

* Take care of your feet! Make sure you wear comfy shoes for the fest. Bring extra socks, an assortment of shoes/sandals. maybe a pumice stone, etc. You’ll be doing lots of dancing and lots of walking for 3+ days. Blisters are common.

* Sunscreen!

* Try to hit up Greektown at least once. Pizza Papalis, Nikki’s Greek Pizza and Plaka’s are all amazing detroit landmark places to eat, and affordable hangover cures. $5 cab ride from the festival and most hotels, or a 15 minute walk or people mover ride.

* Try to avoid big purses and backpacks and use something that zips up and is tightly closed so you don’t drop your stuff out of it.

* Bring wet wipes because the toilet paper will be gone in the port-o-potties.

* If you are interested in Main Stage (Vitamin Water) headliners performing at night, go early and get your spot on the stairs towards the top. There is plenty of room to sit, dance and you will have such a better view of everything.

* Even if you never wear plugs EVER, at DEMF you need them. The sound is on a whole other realm. Especially in the underground stage. So bring some just so you have them if you want.

* Hand Sanitizer is a MUST.

* Check with your hotel, many have a free shuttle to fest if you don’t want to walk or cab it.

* Not necessary to show up at noon. They start late.

* Cool clothing and a hoodie for night. Air gets chilly at night off the river.

* This is a great after party reference guide.

* MOST IMPORTANT: Pace yourself its a marathon not a sprint. And have fun!

** Obviously this isn’t a complete list. Please feel free to post your own tips in the comments below, and share with your friends! **

For tickets and other information, check out the official Movement web site:

2011 Promo Video:

Beatport Stage Video (Featuring a track by Indianapolis Techno Producer, Adam Jay):