Petition launched to make 24-hour dance venues legal in the Motor City


A party at Detroit's TV Lounge. - EATON BLUMENSTEIN
  • Eaton Blumenstein
  • A party at Detroit's TV Lounge.

While many people associate the futuristic sounds of techno music with European clubs and drugged-out white dudes wearing all black, the sound of techno was pioneered right here in Detroit. After Detroit duo Cybotron released its album Enter in 1983 to international success, the new techno sound found fans a world away — in Berlin.

"After the wall fell in 1989 it was new," Walter Wasacz, a long-time techno journalist from Detroit, previously told Metro Times. "It was like now we can do things that we couldn't do before, there was a freedom to do more things creatively, [and] Detroit techno fit into that. It was a reunification of east and west Berlin, of east and west Germany, and Detroit techno was the soundtrack of reunification."

Wasacz works with the group Detroit-Berlin Connection, a counterculture collective founded in 2013 to facilitate economic and creative relationships between Detroit and Berlin. Its foundation is a mix of two legendary techno music brands: Detroit Underground Resistance and Tresor Berlin. The nonprofit’s goal is to facilitate creative and economic growth for Detroit, with models and events based on revitalizing the “night economy”: music, entertainment, bars, and a mix of all of the above.

In Berlin, techno music fueled a vibrant, 24-hour nightlife economy at clubs like Berlin’s Tresor. The same cannot be said of Detroit, however. To that end, DBC is now focused on taking on what it views as a restrictive curfew on dancing and entertainment in Detroit.

While venues can apply for individual permits to stay open for 24 hours, the Michigan Liquor Control Code makes any dancing or entertainment in any venue from 2 a.m.-7:30 a.m. within the city illegal. DBC hopes to get enough signatures on their petition for Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit’s City Council to consider abolishing section 5-7-5 of the law, which contains the curfew, and make 24-hour dancing legal in Detroit — like it is in cities like New York and Atlanta.

The petition went live on Sept. 18, and is close to acquiring the 1,000 signatures it seeks. DBC posted an update on the petition’s page on Thursday:

“Thank you to everyone who has signed and shared the petition. We are really getting some good traction! One question we are getting is: Is the code being enforced? Our answer: It doesn't matter if they are enforcing it or not. It's on the books and can be selectively enforced when a venue falls out of favor with the local police/government. This rule has been used to shut venues down and ticket people in the past and just because it isn't being enforced now doesn't mean it won't be in the future.”

“That being said, this is just the beginning of the change we want to foster. This is a step in the right direction for every artist, venue owner and promoter in the city. The tip of the iceberg when it comes to having a robust night economy in Detroit!”

The petition can be found here. More information is available at DBC’s Facebook page.

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