Culture + Style

Tune in to Detroit’s Underground Music Scene: 5 Not-to-Miss Spots

From Motown and house to EDM and techno, Detroit has long been the center of the next music revolution. After all, this is Motor City, where Motown was born, and these days the beats are as strong as ever as DJs flock here from around the world.

Whether you’re looking for a huge rave or an intimate dive, these clubs will give you a taste of where the music scene is heading — not to mention a peek at authentic Detroit.

The TV Lounge

The TV Lounge is a stomping ground for the local techno scene, bringing in everyone from Detroit superstars like DJ Krypta to international bigwigs like Radio Slave. The TV Lounge is huge, with three main stages, two outside and one inside.

Here you’ll hear tracks influencing clubs across the world, like Tokyo’s Womb. The genres here are like the people, ranging in age and style. You’ll get everything from hip hop and R&B to house and techno, and see everyone from dad rockers to glowstick-wielding twenty-somethings.

On chiller nights it’s great for a casual sit-down, and the outdoor stages make this a perfect summer rave scene.

detroit music
Wear your finest club gear. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Grasshopper Underground & Studio

Get ready to get cozy at the Grasshopper Underground, famous for its killer sound system that has every other Detroit club beat. Known locally as “The ‘Hopper,” this club is kind of like your friend’s basement party, only with way better sound.

The venue is tiny, with one room upstairs for lounging and the other downstairs for dancing. But don’t let the size fool you — The ‘Hopper draws DJs from around the world.

The resident DJ is Golf Clap, a duo with roots in the local underground scene, and they draw in names like AraabMuzik and international up-and-comers like Mija. If you are a tech house or deep house junkie, this is the venue for you.

But remember to bring ear protection, as the music gets loud.

Northern Lights Lounge

The Northern Lights Lounge is known as Detroit’s most diverse club, not just for its mixed crowds, but also for its eclectic music scene. “Retro” is the word that describes this place, which features music that changes nightly, usually live bands.

Red leather booths, 50s pop art — this place has an old-school feel. Here you can listen to anyone from Motown legendary guitarist Dennis Coffey to DJs of the underground music scene like Agent-X.

If you’re new to the city, this is a perfect place to take in some atmosphere: On chiller nights, try one of their famous lawnmower martinis on the candlelit outdoor patio while soaking up some classic tunes.

detroit music
Hear the hottest international DJs. (Photo: Alamy)

City Club

The City Club is far from your typical Detroit dance club, but it’s an experience you’ll never forget. Located in the historic Leland Hotel, City Club is the heart of Detroit’s goth and industrial scene. Which means one thing for a visitor: You’re bound to see some crazy stuff.

The venue is just the right amount of dark and dilapidated, perfect for this spiky-haired, heavy-eye-linered crowd. The drinks are strong and cheap, and the dancing is absolutely out of this world. If you want to get lost in a crowd and dance your heart off, this is the perfect place to do it.

Otherwise, you’ll have a great night, even if you come, order a drink and just stare. The outfits alone make it worth it.

The Works

The Works is perfect if you’re looking for the rave scene, with all the dirt and grime that implies. Come at 11 p.m., leave at 3 a.m., and dance yourself into a frenzy.

The club is comprised of two huge rooms, and music varies greatly, from Detroit music basics (house, techno) to trap, dubstep, minimal, industrial and future.

Here you’ll find dyed-hair girls in beanies and tattooed EDM bros. People tend to be friendly and uninhibited; it’s not entirely surprising to see a guy in a Pikachu suit get down. Come here to dance long and hard.