It’s no wonder Detroit came up time and time again as an alternative to rapidly gentrifying NYC during our conversations at the Newsroom. Those abandoned buildings are often the site of epic dance parties and roving clubs, hosted by the city’s best DJs – or so says Amy Braunschweiger, who grew up an hour outside of the Motor City.
Braunschweiger, web communications manager at Human Rights Watch, is determined to bring some of the anything-goes atmosphere of her dancing days in Detroit to New York and, at the same time, help a struggling city that’s been hit with the double whammy of recession and bankruptcy in the past few years. Tonight she’s organizing Motor City Dance Party at Cameo in Williamsburg to help fund two Detroit area non-profit arts centers, Compás and the Carr Center.
“Detroit has a lot of problems right now, but it’s also a really vibrant city,” said Braunschweiger. “Sometimes it’s the arts that get people though rough times and it’s more important than ever to really be supporting arts in Detroit. “
The party starts at 7 p.m. with happy-hour prices at the bar until 8 p.m. DJ ECLIPSE (of the Rock Steady Crew), DY Ayres (who founded the Brooklyn dance party The Rub) and Chances with Wolves (of East Village Radio fame) will all be spinning tunes. Expect a mix of soul, Motown, and hip hop in honor of the Motor City, and even a mariachi band – a nod to Compás’ Youth Mariachi Ensemble, which plans to expand using proceeds from the event.
“There’s a huge grassroots art community here that allows people in the neighborhood, who often come from challenging circumstances, to participate in artistic outlets,” said Aaron Barndollar, director of Compás, describing the center’s neighborhood is Southwest Detroit. “It’s an economically challenged community, but the community always pulls together.”
Tickets to the party are $20. There will be door prizes and a silent auction that includes a signed copy of Just Kids by Patti Smith, a painting by Detroit artist Ian Swanson, and two weekend trips to Detroit, complete with hotel stays and tickets to museums and musical events. Airfare isn’t included, but Braunschweiger said Playground Detroit’s Rideshare may be able to help the winners find a ride share – and a new Detroit friend.
In fact, some New York artists, fed up with the skyrocketing rents and tiny spaces in the ever-gentrifying metropolis, have already packed up to try their luck in Motor City. “It’s crazy,” said Barndollar. “At least once a week I run into somebody from New York who just came here.”
Braunschweiger’s not surprised at Detroit’s artistic resurgence. “Detroit is just a beautiful place to explore, “ she said. “It’s not like other cities – it’s a place where you can go and find pockets of wonder.”