person in a DJ booth
This year is the 11th year of Tec-Troit’s annual free techno festival. (BridgeDetroit photo by Jena Brooker)

When it began in 2000, the Detroit Electronic Music Festival was free. 

But by the fifth year, Movement, as the festival is now called, began charging admission fees, which have grown to $150 per day, and $300 for a weekend pass in the earliest tier of pricing. 

“I remember going back when it first started and it was free,” said Detroiter Raul Rocha, a music producer also known as DJ Roach. “People who did not necessarily listen to that music, they would just stumble upon it,” he said, referring to people walking around downtown who would stop by Hart Plaza where Movement is held. “We got fans out of it,” he said. 

But he said the magic was lost when the prices for Movement became more expensive over the years. 

“I wanted to bring that feeling back,” said Rocha, a construction worker by day. So he started his own techno festival, Tec-Troit, in 2011. More than a decade later, it’s still free. 

This Friday, the annual Tec-Troit festival kicks off at the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation at 1211 Trumbull St. The lineup includes artists Depth Charge, Scan 7, Blake Bakter, Mike Clark, Thomas Barnett, Drivetrain, Gari Romalis, and others. 

“What you’re gonna see is a lot of homegrown local talent and some of the biggest names in techno underground resistance,” said Rocha. Now in its 11th year, Rocha said approximately 10,000 people attend the two-day festival weekend. 

Anita Zavala, director of entrepreneurship and wealth at the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation (DHDC), said she’s really excited for everyone to come to the festival. 

“We’re hosting it really to engage the community and bring everybody down to our site, to promote Detroit based artists,” she said. “Kind of an anti-Movement. Because Detroit is the birthplace of techno, we definitely wanted to celebrate that and also it’s free, and for all ages, so we definitely don’t want to gate-keep Detroit’s music either.”

It’s the second year DHDC is hosting the event, and Zavala said they expect to continue. The festival is also serving as a fundraiser for DHDC to support their programming while also promoting economic development for all their vendors, she said. 

sign that say free admission
This year is the 11th year of Tec-Troit’s annual free techno festival. (BridgeDetroit photo by Jena Brooker)

Rocha said they’ve managed to keep it free for more than a decade because they have a lot of sponsors, but noted it’s hard to get corporate sponsors because of a mismatch in agendas. But when there aren’t enough sponsors, Rocha said he sometimes pays out of his own pocket. 

“This is 100% passion,” he said. 

“It’s been amazing and it’s really just about the love for the music and techno and pushing vinyl,” he said. “We’re not opposed to digital but we like techno and we like it dark and dirty and we like vinyl.” 

If you can’t make it to this weekend’s festival, Rocha is throwing a Jit Festival July 29th, also at the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation. 

Jena is a BridgeDetroit's environmental reporter, covering everything from food and agricultural to pollution to climate change.

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