Halloween in Detroit Dance City — quite distinct from "Detroit Rock City," which is another brat entirely — is Swingin' Time, Shindig, Hullabaloo, Soul Train, Kill the DJ, Optimo, Trash, Club Motherfucker, [Kontrol], Brainfeeder, the Bunker and all those other sick parties from around the world funneled into one frightful night of deranging the senses. Actually, make that two nights if you count the "pre-party" that's better known locally as Devil's Night. Or even three nights, if you're feeling holy and obligated to observe All Saints the day after.
The deepest and the darkest come out to play this weekend; that's a given. But the talent on display in this city each and every witching season is eerily stellar. Sure, there are always crummy, tasteless, universally forgettable options out there — neo-pagan wannabe gatherings or crassly commercial and cheesy events on opposite sides of the spectrum, equally boring and avoidable. So what you want to do is seek out the best that authentic Detroit has to offer, because it's definitely out there. It's all resolutely fresh local ambition rolled out on a regular basis, but condensed and intensified at this time of year. In fact, you'll find a twisted bunch of people who are doing their best work, some of it radically good. Plus, the autumn is a good time for the regional scene: People seem hungry and confident, sassy and fun, ready to be tickled or tackled. And the local dance floor is a perfect place to throw yourself around, shift lanes, cruise and drift, transforming yourself into that other you always wanted to be. Write the book. Bring a camera. Get haunt-ological. Direct and star in your own mockumentary.
Detroit is, above all, fertile and earthy, a point of discovery and departure. A wormhole connecting madness to inspiration. Say hello to darkness, your old friend. Now get lost.
Honey, don't walk on the mild side
We must warn in advance that we are not responsible for injuries — psychic, physical or otherwise — on the dance floor. Walk on the wild side but come home intact that first night, with only a few scratches and bruises, so you'll be ready to do it all over again. What we will take responsibility for, though, is guiding you on the path to becoming musically correct during a bad moon rising.
So, let's bring some order to the chaos with simple chronology. In other words: Start here; end there. And everything in the middle counts.
On Friday, crews from Bang Tech 12 and Detroit Techno Militia host their third annual Devil's Night Party, during which local performers will parody entertainers, great and small; gigantic and trivial. A few highlights include Mark Flash as Stevie Wonder; Ronin Selecta as Carl Craig; DJ Dru as Deadmau5' Gabe Real and Will Evo as Detroit Grand Pubahs and — our pick of the night — Aaron Carl as Missy Elliott. Sounds nuts! We're already loving it days ahead of time. Get there early; stay late. At the Bohemian National Home, 3309 Tillman St., Detroit. 9 p.m.
Also Friday night: bust it up for a good cause at a food drive called "Angels Made of Devils" at Oslo (1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit). Detroit-Brooklyn commuter Jimmy Edgar, who just dropped a post-minimal/post-breaks bomb ("Funktion") on Richie Hawtin's Minus imprint, heads up the lineup. Free entry with canned food and non-perishables. 10 p.m.
And Funk Night turns its nasty mother out at the Majestic Theatre (4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit), featuring soul controller Frank Raines as well as the eight-piece Will Sessions Band, all emerging stars on the rising D-based Few Records label. 10 p.m.
Saturday night, feverish
How good does life get when Interdimensional Dimensions is ready to rave on All Hallow's Eve? The organization has been at the front of a global wave of tasty-edgy electro energy since the mid-1990s. And founder Brendan M Gillen has been playing live as part of Ectomorph (with Erika Sherman), calling himself the DJ BMG. He's a connecting rod between what came then and what's possible now … and later. He's performing in BMG costume for the ninth annual Samhain bash. And we think they should be flying people in on eagles from Middle Earth for this one, which also features Miami's Alpha 606, as well as Chuck Hampton, Carlos Souffront and the above mentioned Sherman. On two floors at the Bohemian National Home, 3009 Tillman St., Detroit. Starts at 11-ish; goes to 6-ish.
Modern groovemakers are also on the march all weekend. You want some more in your freakin' face? You can get it at Oslo, where Halloween Freak Out hosts soulful jammer Dam Funk from L.A. (on the Stones Throw label), known for his West Coast space funk weekly Funkmosphere party and with a new hot crunksteppin' LP, Toeachizown to throw down live. Support comes courtesy of Secrets, the Detroit-meets-Brooklyn project of Matt Abbott and Kevin Reynolds, another hard-wired lifer born to run in the merging lanes of art and technology. Starts at 10 p.m.; goes to 4 a.m. At Oslo, 1456 Woodward, downtown Detroit.
Still looking for more satisfaction? Then head to Eastern Market for Sin-de-kat's "Blak-Out," an event headed by John Acquaviva, who, with the aforementioned Hawtin, ruled the North American warehouse/rave scene in the 1990s under the Windsor-based Plus 8 banner. A wild bunch of diverse talent on the bill includes gospel-house icon Terrence Parker, as well as DJ Dan, Terry Mullan, Brian Gillespie, DJ Seoul, T. Linder, Gabe Real, Border Patrol, party promoter/DJ Hugh C. and about a half-dozen more lunatics wearing solid-state gear. At Bert's Warehouse Theater, 2739 Russell St., Detroit.
Les fleurs du mal
Finally, no matter where you begin or end up Saturday night, it's highly recommended you stick your beak into the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, for "You're Gonna Die" (hey, we knew that already!), hosted by MOCAD's enterprising New Wave committee. The dance floor should resemble a riot of colors with a scent of flowers of evil, to paraphrase Rimbaud and evoke Baudelaire. Our own riotous imagination conjures cinematic sexadelic scenes from Vampyros Lesbos as well as Claude Rains, Lon Chaney and Benicio del Toro all mingling at the cash bar, as Ital-disco and psycho-drone rock surround the big room with mindbending rhythmic assault. The night will be commanded by two forces from the dark side: Macho City + Disco Secret DJs — which is Scott Zacharias, Mike Trombley, Mike Kearns and Tommy Ferrera — and the Wolfman Band, super-fierce furry animals originating from the Time Stereo/UFO Factory/Italy Records noise-rock coalition. Expect a little punishment and reward, all you sinners! Give it up and turn it loose. MOCAD is at 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors are at 8 p.m.Walter Wasacz writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]