Overshadowed by the story of techno’s creation in Detroit is the story of the city’s pre-techno history – the disco and post-disco era that spawned the techno movement itself. “I try to mention it in interviews, but it gets deleted because it predates techno,” says Mike “Agent X” Clark, an established DJ in the city. “It would be great to finally have Detroit heard and understood before techno.”
Because of a lack of readily available documentation, there is a gap in Detroit’s music history between the days of Motown and the rise of techno in the mid-’80s. It’s as though when Motown left Detroit in 1972 for Los Angeles, the city’s music scene essentially died until it was revived by techno a little over a decade later. This is far from true: a fascinating tale mostly left untold, aside from a small chapter in Dan Sicko’s Techno Rebels and a handful of articles, Detroit’s blossoming dance music culture between 1973 and 1985 was a highly influential period that never received the credit it deserved.
Memories of teenagers throwing thousand-strong disco parties; rampant after hours clubs, with authorities turning a blind-eye under the rule of Mayor Coleman Young; a short-lived New Wave boom that brought the likes of The B-52’s to party in Detroit – all of it has basically been forgotten in the techno surge that followed. To add to the understanding of how Detroit birthed such a vibrant genre in the late ’80s, Ashley Zlatopolsky speaks to some of the DJs and producers that were there.