Friday, May 30, 2008

Movement - Part 3

I just want to add briefly a few words about the Moby set. He was at the main stage in the bowl of Hart Plaza.

Here's some photos from flickr of Hart Plaza. These are not my photos, I just searched for Hart Plaza on flickr.
And here is a map of Hart Plaza. This is from the main webpage for the festival. This is the layout for this particular festival along with all the stages that were set up.

Anyway, Moby was wearing a Detroit zip up hoodie that he got at the festival, probably, or sent someone to buy for him at the official Paxahau Movement tent. He played Inner City in the first few minutes of his set. Inner City is a project that Kevin Saunderson and vocalist Paris Grey put a few releases out with in the late 1980s. So it's major Detroit music. And, later in the set, he got up on the table on which his equipment (all digital) was set up and was getting the crowd to chant "Detroit!" over and over. Now, in that kind of setting, it's difficult to distinguish between a chant begun by the DJ or a chant begun by the crowd. It just starts and grows louder and louder until it fades out. It was a very strange moment to see a huge crowd of mainly young white people (teens and 20s), most of whom were not from Detroit, chanting "Detroit!" along with Moby. Festival attendance is predominantly white people in their teens and 20s. The population of the city of Detroit is predominantly African American, 88% according to the 2000 census. So, most Detroiters were not in attendance at the festival. Maybe some of the white crowd came from suburbs that make up metropolitan Detroit, the rest are midwest ravers, fans from Chicago and other nearby cities, and some from other parts of the US and around the world. So irony was in abundance at the Moby set that night. What about Detroit was being represented at that moment when the crowd was shouting "Detroit!"? People come in to the city to see a DJ who has nothing to do with Detroit, and they are only in the city for the festival and then leave, grateful for not getting mugged or killed, because, you know, Detroit is the murder capital of the world apparently. Okay, now I'm being sarcastic and moody, but this seems to be a reality for alot of people who live in the city of Detroit. It is a city full of poverty, joblessness, terrible education system, misguided leadership unconcerned with much of Detroit's population, and a lengthy history of population decline, of crippling violence on such a scale that some say the city still has not recovered, and general invisibility to the rest of the US. I write invisibility because many accounts of Detroit by visitors emphasize the empty state of this city with its abandoned skyscrapers, empty streets, and eerie nature of the dilapidated city. I wrote about this in an earlier post as well. Fans of Detroit electronic music visit the city for the festival and during the long weekend, head out to explore a bit of the city. Many come away with a view of the city that really does not exist in reality. These accounts describe the city as desolate, empty, miles and miles of road with no human in sight. Who are they looking for, because there are people present all the time, especially during the warm spring month of May on Memorial Day weekend! Are poor Black people just invisible in these accounts, even though they are clearly a visible part of Detroit's cityscape? Race and class sometimes have the ability to make one invisible to a more privileged perspective.

Well, I did not plan on taking that route with this post, but I'm glad that came out onto my keyboard. I'll write more about the festival soon.

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