Detroit’s Renaissance: Can Techno Music Save Motor City?

Detroit’s Renaissance: Can Techno Music Save Motor City?

Since the late ’60s, Detroit, once the engine of American
industrial progress, has been on a downward spiral. Ravaged by
thirty years of white flight, drugs, gang problems, industrial
automation and the decline of organized labor, Motor City is a
ghost of its former self — a sad collection of modern skyscrapers,
ghettoes, and ghost-like ruins of lavish buildings from another
time.

Meanwhile, Techno, Detroit’s most important musical export since
Motown, is taking the world by storm. In a recent special issue of
FEED on cities, London-based writer Geoff Dyer,
visiting for the first annual Detroit Electronic Music Festival,
explores the grand ruins of downtown, and asks whether Techno can
help save Motor City’s soul.

‘It was more than just 36 hours of music and fun. Something else
was happening here too. As the festival developed, people began to
get a palpable sense that they were not simply witnessing but were
part of a turning point in the history of the city,’ writes Dyer,
adding that: ‘Techno — which, it is easy to forget, was pioneered
by black men — emerged from the ruins of a city nearly destroyed
by racial tension… No one would claim that a three-day feast of
electronic music was going to solve all the city’s problems but,
equally, no one who was there could deny the capacity of music and
dance to bring people together.’ — Leif Utne
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