8 Music Venues in Detroit That Will Make You Want To Dance
Few cities have influenced the music industry like Detroit. In order to really appreciate this city, plan a night out at one of Motor City’s legendary live music venues.
We won’t try to tell you otherwise: In recent years, Detroit, Michigan, has fallen on hard times. Midst auto industry bailouts, high crime statistics, and a declining population, many have forgotten the numerous ways Detroit has influenced the world. Specifically, the world of music. Detroit is the home of Motown. It’s the birthplace of techno. Motor City has given us Eminem, Aretha Franklin, Bob Seger, and The Stooges—to name a few. You can’t listen to the radio without hearing Detroit’s contributions to the world of music. So, when you plan your trip to Detroit Rock City, make time for a night out at one of the city’s legendary live music venues. Or, time your visit with one of Detroit’s dancetasic music festivals, like the Movement Electronic Music Festival held every Memorial Day Weekend. From hip hop to jazz, Detroit’s music scene has something for everyone and then some.
Alexandre da Veiga/El Club
Nothing says the Midwest like a dive bar in a bowling alley, and that’s exactly the vibe you’ll find at Detroit’s Magic Stick . In the early ’90s, the owners of the Majestic (located downstairs), tore out eight bowling lanes to create space for the music venue. Even though you can’t play 10 frames here anymore, you can catch some wicked good garage, alternative, and indie rock shows. When you’re not rocking out on the dance floor or ordering a drink at the LED lit bar, channel your inner pool shark at one of Magic Stick’s 10 tables. Dive bar feels to the max.
Craig Gorkiewicz/Magic Stick
Many of the music venues on this list started out as something else, and the Majestic is no exception. When it first opened in April 1915, it was the world’s largest movie theater with its 1,100-person capacity. Today, this classic Detroit landmark hosts a variety of musical acts with shows almost every night of the week. Make your way to Woodward Avenue to see touring acts from metal and punk to jazz and folk. The Majestic has hosted the likes of Sublime, Drake, Sonic Youth, and The Decemberists.
Chris Balow/Majestic Theatre
Motor City Wine Club
For a more low-key evening, check out the Motor City Wine Club . Situated on Michigan Avenue, this wine bar does more than pour smooth reds and crisp whites. It’s also one of the best places in the city to hear live jazz. On Friday night, the DJ spins vinyl jams ranging from boogie and funk to soul and disco. With no cover charge, go ahead and spring for a bottle.
Russ (CC BY-SA 2.0)/Flickr
Looking to get off the beaten path while in Detroit? It may not look like much from the outside, but Marble Bar is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Located just around the corner from the Motown Museum, the venue makes a point of offering a versatile music lineup. But house and techno fans will feel especially at home at Marble Bar. Even if electronic isn’t your jam, you might still want to consider spending part of your night here for the cheap yet quality cocktails.
Courtesy of Marble Bar
Baker's Keyboard Lounge
Widely considered the oldest operating jazz venue in the world, you can’t go wrong with a night at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge . After all, Miles David played here. Over the years, the club has had its ups and downs, but in 2016, the city council designated Baker’s Keyboard Lounge a historical building. The move ensured Baker’s can continue welcoming talented jazz musicians and serving flavorful soul food. Order the smothered pork chops and thank us later.
ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
Cafe D'Mongos Speakeasy
From its quirky decor to its classic cocktails, D’Mongos is everything hipsters love and more. But, even non-hipsters will appreciate this funky dive bar that pays tribute to the city’s Prohibition history. Detroiters and tourists alike pack into the speakeasy on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. This downtown Detroit favorite features a variety of acts with a special focus on local musicians.
Lbeck1945 [CC BY-SA 4.0]/Wikimedia Commons
Detroit winters are notoriously harsh, but summers in Detroit are wildly underrated. To take full advantage of Michigan’s warm weather months, stop by El Club in Southwest Detroit. In addition to featuring a diverse lineup of musical acts, El Club has outdoor seating. Get some fresh air on the patio while enjoying a slice of wood-fired pizza. No one expects you to dance the night away on an empty stomach.
Jake Mulka/El Club
Ford’s Model T wasn’t the only big “T” to come out of Detroit. Motor City is also the birthplace of techno. Techno and house fans from all over the world visit Detroit just to go to TV Lounge . Unlike many clubs bent on projecting exclusivity, TV Lounge prides itself on cultivating a welcoming environment. Its efforts have earned it the nickname “the ‘Cheers’ of Detroit.” One example of the club’s commitment to inclusion is its blatant refusal to establish a VIP section. TV Lounge is techno as it should be.