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Detroit Electronic Music Festival

The Detroit Electronic Music Festival is a free annual electronic dance music showcase held on Memorial Day weekend in Detroit, Michigan. Musicians and DJs perform for the public, and vendors sell merchandise of interest to the public.

Sanctioned by the City of Detroit and held, for the first three years, in Hart Plaza adjacent to downtown, the festival was the first public acknowledgement and celebration of the area as the birthplace of techno music.

The first festival was held in 2000 and reportedly drew over one million visitors during the course of its 3-day run. Subsequent festivals have seen even higher attendance, although local businesses that did not see a tourism-related windfall have disputed the generous attendance estimates.

Attendance estimates (based on visual estimates by police and city officials):

  • 2000: 1.1 to 1.5 million
  • 2001: 1.7 million
  • 2002: 1.7 million
  • 2003: 630 thousand (believed to be more accurate than previous estimates)

During the festival, numerous independently organized techno music events are held in other local venues. Impromptu parties with DJs in hotel rooms also add to the festive atmosphere.

Pop Culture Media, the business entity that owns the DEMF name and that oversaw much of the organization of the first three festivals, wrestled each year with a coalition of local techno music producers for creative control over the events. Festival attendees galvanized their support for the musicians and against PCM and its head Carol Marvin, who was seen as being out of touch with the music and was accused of over-commercializing the event.

In February 2003, the City of Detroit sided with the fans, awarding local techno musician Derrick May the use of Hart Plaza for the festival, which took place in Hart Plaza in May as planned. However, the festival's name had to be changed to Movement 2003, due to PCM's ownership of the DEMF name. Pop Culture Media intends to continue organizing competing festivals under the name DEMF.

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