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July 13, 2023 37 mins

This is the story of how a Black-owned club in downtown Detroit became central to the birth of Techno. The Music Institute was only open for 18 months, but in its short lifetime, it championed the birth of Techno music and became home to some of the most influential DJs and producers of its time. It inspired a generation of young Black people to make genre shifting music that would be heard around the world for decades to come. 

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Hi, this is Paris Hilton and you're listening to the
History of the World's Greatest Nightclubs, a twelve part podcast
about the iconic venues and people that revolutionized Howie Party.
A song can change your life, and that's what free
by Ulternate did for me. I heard it for the
first time at a club in New York, not long

after I left provokinne In school, where I experienced mental
and physical abuse that left me with trauma I'm still
healing from. But in the late nineties, this song saved me.
The song starts with sorrow. You can hear it in
the lyrics, the despair in the song, and the Despairro's

feeling was undeniable. But like the journey I was about
to go on, the song evolved, transforming into something uplifting,
something beautiful. Those lyrics filled me with an unimaginable amount

of hope. That song became my anthem. An alternate's voice
became my guiding light. Even now, years later, whenever I
play this song at a show, my iconic opening chord
progression brings me to tears. I hear the pulsing beat
and I'm taken back into the nights. I spent singing
along to the words You're afraid to do what you
want to do. It's euphoric and reminds me of my

favorite nights and clubs around the world, the dance floors
and the DJ booths that welcomed me with open arms
and changed my life. So who better to tell the
story of twelve of the world's greatest night clubs and
the boys behind the anthem of freedom, joy and possibility
ulternate herself. I'll leave you in good hands.

Speaker 2 (02:00):
What Paris felt all those years ago singing to my
song was how I felt growing up in Baltimore, running
around the underground dance scene. It was everything to me.
It was how I found my purpose. So I'm inviting
you to join me on this night life journey as
you've never experienced it before. From London Audio, iHeartRadio and

executive producer of Paris Hilton. This is the history of
the world's greatest nightclubs. Some of the world's most legendary
nightclubs were known for the unique community they welcomed, others
for the cultural movements they started, and some for the
musicians and DJs they introduced to the world. The best

nightclubs champion new music, transform lives, and provide an escape
from life's pressures. One more thing. This is the history
of some of the world's greatest nightclubs. Thanking of every
club in the world, but an exploration of the spaces, people,
and club nights that made a lasting impact on night

life and music today. I'm your host, Alter Nata. I'm
a singer, songwriter and musician, and I found my purpose
in club culture. This is episode one the Music Institute
in Detroit, Michigan. There's something about dancing in a dimly

lit room that gives you the power of anonymity. When
you're moving in time to the music as a single
body in a sea of people, your self consciousness begins
to float away. You realize that everyone is so caught
up in the moment that no one's really paying any
attention to you. No one is looking into who you

are outside of those nightclubs, and it's liberating. You can
leap across the dance floor, sing at the top of
your lungs, and wear clothes that you'd feel too shy
to wear during the harsh judging eyes of the daytime.
Because during the day you have to show up as
the version of yourself that the world expects you to be,

but at night you can escape. At least that's how
Sierra Donovan felt in Detroit in the nineteen eighties. At
the time, I was a relatively new federal agent working
criminal investigations. Being an African American woman in law enforcement

already came with significant challenges, but even more so in
Detroit because the city's black community had a long fraught
history of animosity with the police. In nineteen sixty seven,
after decades of entrenched segregation, institutional racism, and police brutality,
Detroit saw an intense clash between the city's black residents

and the police department. A local club was hosting a
welcome home party for two black veterans that had just
returned from Vietnam when the police shut the party down
and arrested over eighty people. The act of hostilities sparked
protests that became violent when the police intervened, leading to

forty three deaths and more than seven thousand arrests. The
riots had left a sense of unease and distrust between
black communities and the cops, and as a black woman,
Sierra could see and feel that tension in both her
local community and at her job, I had.

Speaker 3 (05:40):
Started working for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
and Explosives. In nineteen eighty four.

Speaker 2 (05:48):
The city was still trying to heal and recover from
the nineteen sixty seven riots, but by the eighties Detroit
had to deal with a new existential crisis. It was
the Reagan era, and de industrialization had left a lasting
dent on the city's economy. Detroit was really struggling. Manufacturing

factories had abandoned American cities like Detroit for cheaper labor elsewhere.
The neighborhoods they had once brought to life became desolate
industrial wastelands, and the communities that had relied on those
jobs struggled with high levels of crime and unemployment.

Speaker 3 (06:26):
There was a lot of violence. There was a lot
of illegal drug trafficking.

Speaker 2 (06:32):
It really affected the community.

Speaker 3 (06:35):
Our young people, younger people seemed to be lost and
in the street. There was this epidemic of drugs, heroin
cocaine and crack cocaine, and it was a pretty sad
state at that time.

Speaker 2 (06:49):
But despite all the challenges and obstacles in its way,
Detroit was resilient. The city had always been a force
to reckon with. It was the home of Motown, after all,
ushering in a legendary era of black music in the
midst of the Civil Rights movement, Detroit was no stranger
to adversity, and like in so many of the cities

we'll spend nights in during this series, in Detroit, creativity
was often born out of the desire to find hope
in the darkness. But back to Sierra. Sierra had a
pretty intense day job, so when she got home after
a long day of dealing with that heaviness, she really
wanted to relax. And luckily she'd made a home for

herself to do exactly that, in a historical area of
Detroit known as Palmer Park.

Speaker 3 (07:38):
I lived on a street called Whitmore Plaza, and I
lived on the first floor beautiful, beautiful apartment buildings that
were very large, and after long, stressful days at work,
it was the place she went home to retreat and rest.
I went to bed early, and I had to get
up early.

Speaker 2 (07:58):
But then she got some new neighbors. Two young men
moved into the basement apartment below her. Her routine of
going to bed early and waking up early was interrupted
by their late night jams.

Speaker 3 (08:11):
As soon as I would get in bed and I
fall asleep real good. Twelve o'clock, one o'clock, two o'clock
a m you'd hear this loud music. It was very disruptive.

Speaker 2 (08:27):
Sierra couldn't make out the words or the melody, but
she could hear the muffled, pounding bass and loud electronic music.
At first, she tried to ignore the sounds floating up
from below her, but it went on and on every
night for days and then weeks, and I just.

Speaker 3 (08:45):
Said enough is enough. So finally I made it downstairs.
I got my pajamas on bath roll and those pink
curlers in my hair. Now I had to bang on
the door. That's how loud the music was. I'm banging
on the door. So finally, you know, the two young
men come to the door, open it up.

Speaker 2 (09:09):
Those two young men were Alton Miller and Shae Domier,
But back then those names didn't mean anything to Sierra.
They were just the names of the men making way
too much noise while she was trying to fall asleep.

Speaker 3 (09:22):
I had to cleave with them almost every night to
turn the music town because I had to go to
work I never told her what I did for Lily,
and then it just basically became very confrontational and I
was irate, and they really acted like they just didn't care.
They didn't care who I was, they didn't care what

I had to say, and they basically ignored me.

Speaker 2 (09:49):
It was a cycle. Sierra would try to go to sleep,
Alton and Shae would start playing loud music, and then
Sierra would bang on the door asking them to turn
the music down.

Speaker 3 (10:00):
So that went on for a couple of weeks, and
then finally I had had it. At this point, I'm
ready to call the police and take some action.

Speaker 2 (10:08):
Right But eventually Shay and Alton relented and explained why
they were playing music every night.

Speaker 3 (10:15):
They said, well, we're opening up a club. You're gonna
love it. Blah blah blah blah blah. That's all you
need to say to me.

Speaker 4 (10:24):
Is club.

Speaker 2 (10:26):
Something that you need to know about Sierra is that
while she was a federal agent, Sierra also really loved
to party.

Speaker 3 (10:33):
I feel like I was born in a bar, in
a club. I feel that way in my soul. When
I walk into a club and I see people having
a good time, I feel we're just doing what is
innate within us.

Speaker 2 (10:52):
For her and many of us, going to the club
was a spiritual experience.

Speaker 3 (10:57):
I believe humans are social preaching and music brings people
together from all walks away. It's love is togetherness, unity
us loving and accepting each other. So as she stood

outside their apartment, Sierra was all ears a new club.

Speaker 2 (11:22):
Instantly she was sold. And then they said we're going
to give you a membership. And the membership to the
club came with a personalized card, a cream colored rectangle
with the club's name printed in green at the top
and Sierra's name handwritten below. It would get her into
the club for free. So one night, Sierra went to

downtown Detroit and walked until she reached thirteen fifteen Broadway.
She walked into the four story shoe store that had
been renovated and turned into a club with an incredible
sound system. This was the Music Institute. The club was

an old industrial building. The factory's full tiles had been
sanded down and replaced with the dance floor, and in
the main room there was one strobe light and one
single smoke machine, but art brought the room to life.
There were abstract expressionist pieces painted by a local artist
hung up on the walls, and a mural painted by

an English artist named Sarah Gregory. A row of clocks
showing what time it was in London, Paris, and New
York positioned Detroit as central to the culture. And all
around the room, the dark walls were covered in poems
and abstract surreal thoughts hand painted in white. It was
unlike any club Sierra had ever stepped into before. As

she walked in, all her thoughts and worries began to
fade away. The details of what she could see around
her began to blur, and it didn't matter who she
was during the day or who anybody else in the
club was once they hit that dance floor.

Speaker 3 (13:18):
So when I think about, well, why are are clubs
so important in music, it's what it does to us.
We forget color, we forget gender, we forget that sense
of titles.

Speaker 2 (13:35):
At the Music Institute, Sierra was in Sierra Donovan, the
Federal Agent. She transformed into a dancer.

Speaker 3 (13:43):
Everyone will tell you when Sierra walks in, she has
one mission. She's on the dance floor.

Speaker 2 (13:50):
The dance floor gave her a sense of anonymity that
allowed her to just be herself.

Speaker 3 (13:56):
We were a family without even really knowing.

Speaker 4 (13:58):
Who was full.

Speaker 3 (14:00):
Everybody felt accepted. We weren't there judging. Nobody was judging anyone.
It was just this incredible energy of love. And from
the time they opened until they closed, I was there
and I danced. I danced the night away.

Speaker 2 (14:20):
You see, at the Music Institute, it didn't matter who
you were or what you looked like, because people didn't
come to hang out with a certain crowd to see
celebrities or to be noticed by people.

Speaker 3 (14:31):
It was electric, The vibe was electric.

Speaker 2 (14:36):
It was the music that brought people into the club
because a whole new genre was being created right there
in Detroit, a new genre that you might now know
in love by the name of techno. But at the
time Sierra couldn't describe it. She just knew how it
made her feel.

Speaker 3 (14:55):
It was like fire, your body being on fire on
the dance floor, a fire that could not be contained.
You didn't want nobody to put the energy of your
fire out. You wanted to dance and dance and dance.

Speaker 2 (15:12):
Sierra had such an incredible experience at the Music Institute
that she forgave her noisy neighbors.

Speaker 3 (15:18):
I didn't care how loud they played the music at night,
because what they opened up at that point it was groundbreaking,
It was trailblazing, it was unbelievable.

Speaker 2 (15:32):
The groundbreaking new sound that was championed by the Music
Institute would go on to become one of the most
important genres in the history of clubbing because techno was
born in Detroit. This is the story of how a
downtown Detroit Blade Runner esque nightclub that was only opened

for eighteen months championed the birth of techno and became
home to some of the most influential DJs and producers
of its time. It's about how young black men in
Detroit pioneered a new sound that would go on to
revolutionize club culture and inspire a generation to believe that

anything was possible. Christian Hill is a documentary filmmaker from Detroit.
He was in high school in the eighties and for him,
growing up in Detroit was an inspiration. It was beautiful.

Speaker 5 (16:35):
I grew up at a time where, I mean Detroit
was considered a black city.

Speaker 4 (16:41):
So everybody I knew, from.

Speaker 6 (16:42):
The mayor to the butcher baker and the candlestick maker,
they all looked like me, you know, and so I
always had examples of what black excellence looked like, always
had examples of what life.

Speaker 4 (16:58):
And things could be if you put your mind to it.

Speaker 2 (17:02):
People in Detroit grew up together and formed deep bonds
with their neighbors and friends by going to and throwing parties.

Speaker 4 (17:12):
I grew up with my aunt's living next door.

Speaker 2 (17:15):
That's Alton Miller, remember him, one of the guys that
kept Sierra up at night playing music in his apartment
and yes, one of the founders of the Music Institute.

Speaker 7 (17:25):
So my mom and my aunts they would have these
very very nice house parties. They would prepare food, they
would prepare the music.

Speaker 2 (17:36):
Alton's family never missed an opportunity to celebrate.

Speaker 7 (17:40):
And her parties were pretty famous. They would be cars
parked lining the street from the top of the main
street all the way down. Can you imagine fifty sixty
one hundred people inside a two bedroom flat, I mean,
just imagine.

Speaker 2 (17:58):
Alton grew up in an intergeneration community that really valued music, family,
and celebration, and it was at those parties that he
experienced some of his most formative musical memories.

Speaker 4 (18:14):
It was my first experience is in regards to dance
music and that culture that aspect of people coming together
and communing with music and food and things like that.

Speaker 2 (18:30):
Listening to music at his family's house parties was different
to listening to it on the radio.

Speaker 4 (18:35):
My aunts she had a very very good sound system.

Speaker 2 (18:39):
The kind of sound system that shakes the whole.

Speaker 7 (18:41):
Room, so very first time that I experienced, you know,
that muffled bass sound before you go into a club.

Speaker 4 (18:51):
That just sticks with you.

Speaker 7 (18:53):
It has stuck with me from then all the way
up until now, just that that It's something about that
muffled bass sound before you actually get in the club.

Speaker 2 (19:04):
You know, it's the sound of anticipation of knowing you
were about to step into a night that could change
your life. And after experiencing that sound for the first
time at his aunt's house, Alton couldn't help but spend
his life chasing nights that sounded just like that. When

he was a teenager, Alton and his friends started going
out to clubs in Detroit, but they were looking to
experience more than what their hometown had to offer.

Speaker 7 (19:36):
Upon graduation, between let's say eighty four and eighty five
eighty six.

Speaker 4 (19:44):
We did a lot of traveling.

Speaker 7 (19:45):
And when I say we, I mean the guys that
I eventually opened up the Music Institute with George Baker
shade a mirror when we started traveling in the mid
eighties to Chicago to FRANKI Knuckles's private parties.

Speaker 4 (20:00):
The Paradise Garage in New York was underground, the Music
Box was underground.

Speaker 2 (20:05):
It was during their trips to clubs in cities like
Chicago and New York that Alton, George and Shay cultivated
their musical taste.

Speaker 7 (20:14):
We were just club kids, you know, going into clubs
two three o'clock in the morning, coming out the next day,
just dancing.

Speaker 4 (20:21):
So that was just amazingly beautiful.

Speaker 2 (20:25):
Alton, George and Shay spent those formative years partying across
the country. They learned about emerging styles of music, They
kept up with new fashion trends, and saw how much
more vibrant and spectacular their nights could be. They found
themselves on the dance floors of some of the legendary
clubs we'll explore later on in this series, listening to

new music at Paradise Garage in New York and dancing
until the morning at Warehouse and the Music Box in Chicago.
But when the sun came up and they went back
to Detroit, they realized that they just couldn't find a
club that compared to what they'd seen during their nights
partying and other cities across the country. So they went
back home to Detroit determined to start their own club.

Speaker 3 (21:15):
They had a vision to have an incredible club, incredible music,
incredible sound, and bringing people together from all walks of life,
because that's what they saw in Chicago. In New York was.

Speaker 7 (21:28):
Just an old nod to what we had experience in
that search for the ultimate dance and the ultimate sound
system and the ultimate party.

Speaker 4 (21:39):
We started doing private parties, private law parties.

Speaker 2 (21:43):
Then after months of searching for a venue, they decided
to lease a place in downtown Detroit. But back then
nothing was happening downtown.

Speaker 7 (21:54):
We're talking Detroit in the mid eighties, doom and gloom,
high unemployed.

Speaker 8 (22:00):
Then at five o'clock in the afternoon after work day,
downtown Detroit was just like an abandoned city, just nothing.

Speaker 2 (22:14):
It was filled with boarded up stores and abandoned buildings.
But Alton and his friends saw potential in one of
the buildings they.

Speaker 4 (22:21):
Toured, thirteen fifteen Broadway.

Speaker 2 (22:25):
It was an old, abandoned four story shoe store. It
didn't look like much.

Speaker 4 (22:30):
I mean when we opened the door, there was still
shoes there from the thirties and the forties and the fifties,
like in the basement.

Speaker 2 (22:36):
But underneath the shoes and boarded up windows was a
building that would become a sanctuary for Detroit's musicians.

Speaker 4 (22:45):
My name is Alan Oldham. I am originally from Detroit, Michigan.

Speaker 2 (22:49):
Alan was a radio DJ in the eighties when the
Music Institute first opened up.

Speaker 9 (22:54):
I was doing a radio show at the time and
it was on WDETFM in Detroit. For most of my
I was on from midnight to three am on Friday nights.
So what I would do basically, I would get off
from my radio show and I drive up Second Avenue
in Detroit and drive straight to the club. And around
three am is when it was really beginning to pop.

Speaker 2 (23:16):
The second floor was the heart of the Music Institute.
It's where the DJ booth lived. From up there, the
DJs could see the whole dance floor.

Speaker 3 (23:26):
Up there.

Speaker 2 (23:27):
They were like kings performing alchemy. With each new track
they played, spinning gold on the decks.

Speaker 4 (23:34):
The DJs used to kind of hold court.

Speaker 2 (23:39):
But they weren't untouchable. In fact, if you tried, you
could get close enough to the booth to watch their
every move.

Speaker 3 (23:47):
For me, it's a marriage between the DJ and the patron.
So it's being a close and personal with him because
for me it's so magical. I like to see the
DJ because I like to see his technique, his style,
his skill set.

Speaker 2 (24:03):
For Sierra, it was all about exchanging energy with the DJ.

Speaker 3 (24:08):
DJs will tell you when no one is dancing, they
feel that they are not moving the needle. You can
always find me right at the DJ booth dancing up
close and personal because every time they moved that needle,
I feel it. I feel their house on the needle.

I feel what they're doing, and my own energy connects
with them and I'm letting them know, hey, I feel you,
I see you because I'm dancing.

Speaker 2 (24:43):
Alan spent all of his time at the Music Institute
on the dance floor too.

Speaker 4 (24:48):
I was a dancer on the dance floor.

Speaker 2 (24:50):
Everybody was and what people wore to the Music Institute
reflected that the style was what.

Speaker 4 (24:57):
We in Detroit called dress to sweat.

Speaker 2 (24:59):
Because people can to the Music Institute to dance.

Speaker 4 (25:06):
Everybody was dancing. It wasn't no kind of wallflowers.

Speaker 3 (25:10):
You know, we didn't really have conversation at the Music Institute.
You stayed on the dance floor and it was packed.

Speaker 2 (25:18):
And that was our mission, and Sierra took her mission
very seriously. For me, it was being on that dance
floor and sweating my hair out from the time I
got there until the time I left. Like there were
times when I would dance and it felt as if
no one else was there for me.

Speaker 3 (25:39):
The DJ, the sounds in the dance floor.

Speaker 2 (25:43):
Freedom was the hallmark of the dance floor.

Speaker 3 (25:46):
We were like children in a playground, in a dark
playground where it was all about the sound the music.
I would do this dance where I leaped across the room.
I would start off doing this running right, and then

all of a sudden, I would leap and it was
as if I was floating in the air.

Speaker 2 (26:13):
I still cannot believe that I could leap that far. Eventually,
the dancing caught up with her. My arthritis is not
that serious and my headcats.

Speaker 3 (26:26):
But when I think about a little ache and pain
that I have in my body, that started with the
Institute because we dance so hard.

Speaker 2 (26:37):
The Music Institute was the place that welcomed young black
DJs in and gave them a space to showcase their
new sound to a pat house, including three DJs that
would soon pioneer a revolutionary new genre, the Belleville Three.
You see, these DJs weren't playing the R and B
music that people were used to. They were experimenting and

creating a brand new sound, techno, a music genre that
would go on to be played all around the world.
While the founders of the Music Institute were being exposed
to music during their club visits to Chicago and New York,
there was another group of friends falling in love with
actually making music.

Speaker 10 (27:17):
This is Juan Atkins, the originator of techno music.

Speaker 2 (27:23):
Wan grew up in Belleville, a city next to Detroit.

Speaker 10 (27:27):
I went to high school in the late seventies and
I was making music. Add during my high school years
for me, was just music. Music, all music, sleep, eat,
breathe music.

Speaker 2 (27:38):
Wan had always loved music, and during his teen years
he started experimenting with more electronic sounds, and.

Speaker 10 (27:45):
I was making music with a core MS ten synthesizer.
The cool thing about the core MS ten is that
you could use white noise and pink noise and manipulate
the filter to make like hick drum sounds, snare sounds,
high hat sounds, so you could make a whole drum

kit just with does sent.

Speaker 2 (28:11):
Influenced by house music and electronic bands like Craftwork, Wand
started to find his own sound. Detroit was an industrial
city filled with factories, technology, and machines, and the soundscape
of the city inspired musicians like Wan to put an
electronic twist on their music.

Speaker 11 (28:29):
So these sounds didn't sound like the normal instruments that
we were accustomed to.

Speaker 4 (28:36):
Took the assembly line machinery and made music.

Speaker 2 (28:39):
Out of it, revolutionizing the sound of dance with new technology.
Techno harkened back to the city's industrial past and tapped
into a futuristic vision for what it would become.

Speaker 10 (28:57):
Techno music was a futuristic we weren't planned by any woulds.

Speaker 2 (29:03):
A new genre had been born, and Juan Atkins, alongside
his friends and fellow DJs Kevin Sanderson and Derek May,
were its founding fathers.

Speaker 10 (29:13):
I met Kevin and Derek in high school. We went
to a high school called Belleville High School.

Speaker 2 (29:19):
They grew up together and started making music in Belleville,
so they went on to become known as the Belleville Three,
the three DJs who gave birth to techno. The most
legendary nightclubs launched careers. They give musicians a home to
experiment in a wide open space filled with people who
just want to dance. And the Music Institute did exactly that.

Speaker 4 (29:44):
But I mean it was our clubs, So this is
where we cut our team.

Speaker 2 (29:48):
The Music Institute was instrumental to the birth and growth
of techno because the three of them were all regulars there.
In fact, Jan, Kevin and Derek all spent time as
is it in DJs at the club.

Speaker 4 (30:02):
Eighty seven, eighty eight, eighty nine.

Speaker 7 (30:04):
Those guys were pretty much all already doing what they
were doing. They were already making the music. Some things
had already been released. Nah, they were making the name
for themselves.

Speaker 4 (30:15):
You know.

Speaker 8 (30:15):
The sound was being pushed out there, but the Music
Institute was able to catapult and was a catalyst for
becoming that.

Speaker 4 (30:22):
So yeah, Music Institute was very, very very integril. I
think it's biggest legacy was just giving.

Speaker 7 (30:28):
Technol a platform and pushing that sound forward and giving
those artists a way to have their voices heard through
their music.

Speaker 2 (30:41):
One and the rest of the Belleville three cut their
teeth at the Music Institute. It was the place where
they tried out new songs, honed in their sound, and
experienced what it was like to play their own songs
to a crowd.

Speaker 4 (30:55):
They came and saw it full circle from the studio
to the club.

Speaker 2 (31:06):
Smart as they stood behind the DJ booth, they watched
people dance to the music they'd spent years making, and
knowing that with the right song they could get the
whole room moving. Here Sierra again.

Speaker 3 (31:27):
Those three gentlemen brought such a force when they played.
They were bold, they were brash, they were confident. These
young men were setting a chart, blazing a trail that
I know, darn will that they didn't realize what they
were doing back then.

Speaker 2 (31:47):
Kevin Sanderson, who was one of the founding members of
Inner City, went on to score number one hits with
songs like good Life and Big Fun, which I know
personally I have danced to a million times and heavily
influenced my early productions. And Juan Atkins, who was a
member of Cybertron and released music under the name Model
five hundred, went on to start his own record label.

Speaker 3 (32:08):
It's been an incredible journey for me to watch these
young black men evolve the way they did from the
Music Institute.

Speaker 2 (32:19):
The Music Institute gave them a place to cultivate their
musical style, an experiment on the way to becoming the
musicians they are now. But back then they were just
young black men doing what they loved, and so were
the clubbers who were dancing in the midst of it all.

Speaker 3 (32:35):
I was just a young woman dancing my heart away
at the Music Institute. When I got off the work
and the midnight hour struck, I knew where I was
going to be on a Friday and a Saturday, and
that's all that mattered. And it was just love, pure energy,
you know, floating across the dance floor. The Music Institute

was only open for eighteen months. Like so many other
incredible clubs, it was deeply loved, but in the end
they weren't making enough money to pay the bills. So
the Music Institute celebrated its final night in November nineteen
eighty nine. Alan can still remember it vividly.

Speaker 4 (33:20):
It was the most crowded it had ever been. I
remember Derek was the DJ, and he played Pacific State
by Itaway State. He played it like two or three
times during the course of the night. If you know
the song, I mean it's you know, it's got the
saxophone parts in it. It's the final night of the club,
so that means it's kind of a funeral song as well.

That's what always will hit me.

Speaker 2 (33:45):
The club had only been in their lives for eighteen months,
but it had really meant something to the clubbers who
spent so many of their nights there.

Speaker 3 (33:54):
I was there dancing and we all cried when it
was over. When the lights went out, we cried.

Speaker 2 (34:00):
But while that final song felt like an ending, the
last night at the Music Institute wasn't a funeral.

Speaker 4 (34:07):
It was one of those things where it's meant to
just come in and make its impression and influence a generation.

Speaker 5 (34:14):
Without Detroit dance music, I don't see dance music as
being complete. Techno gives us the completion of what America
brought to the dance floor.

Speaker 2 (34:25):
Techno was born in Detroit, but there weren't enough people
telling that story. Christian vowed to keep it alive, so
he directed a documentary feature about the birth of techno
called God Said give them drum Machines.

Speaker 11 (34:38):
So just over the years, I had enough AMMO to
wear by the time I empowered myself to put a
camera in my hand, that this would be one of
the first stories that I would be able to tell.

Speaker 2 (34:54):
The richness of growing up in Detroit and being surrounded
by innovative young black men gave Christian and others like
him the inspiration to chase their dreams, and the legacy
of the Music Institute continues to inspire the next generation
of young detroiters. Here's Sierra again.

Speaker 3 (35:11):
And when I think about our young artists today right
here in Detroit, whether they're DJs or producers, songwriters, for me,
what I see is them just following something that's inside
of them, that's saying, here, this is what you came
here to do, and when you do that, you're bound

to be successful. You're bound to be heard, you're bound
to be known.

Speaker 2 (35:37):
Some of the world's greatest nightclubs are great because of
the people who went there, the cultural movements they started,
or the DJs they introduced to the world. By becoming
a home for three of the pioneering DJs that created techno,
the Music Institute's musical legacy carries incredible weight, but what
made the music Institute. Great was that it inspired a

generation of young black people to believe that they could
achieve beyond what they could see.

Speaker 4 (36:04):
It was all black kids, you know, it was all
you know, black men, young black men, and they just
put all this stuff together. Our DJs, you know, broke
this music. I'm very proud of that fact.

Speaker 2 (36:17):
In the next episode, we're gonna make our way over
to New York City to dance Atyria, the iconic club
where New Yorkers found a place to escape and celebrate
life in the midst of one of the city's most
turbulent decades. The History of the World's Greatest Nightclubs is
produced by Neon HUMMDIA for London Audio and iHeartRadio for

London Audio. Our executive producers are Paris Hilton, Bruce Robertson
and Bruce Gersh. The executive producer for Neon Humm is
Jonathan Hirsh. Our producer is Refiro, Faith Masurua, Navanni Onto
and Liz Sanchez are our associate produce users. Our series
producer is Crystal Genesis, Our editor is Stephanie Serrano. Samantha

Allison is our production manager, and Alexis Martinez is our
production coordinator. This episode was written by Rufio Faith Masarua
and fact checked by Katherine Newhen. Theme and original music
by Asha Ivanovich. Our sound design engineers are Sam Beer
and Josh Han. I'm your host Alternate Ay and we'll

see you next time. On the history of the world's
greatest nightclubs.
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