100 Things All Detroiters Should Do Before They Die
Our Detroit bucket list.
Published: January 28, 2014
11) See a Pistons game with a cool halftime show: While the Pistons we have may not be the glorious team of old, their home games still have action you just won’t find anywhere else in town. And with the Palace’s state-of-the-art sound system, a halftime show is a definite slam-dunk.
12) Visit the Burton Collection at the Detroit Public Library’s main branch: The Detroit landmark designed by not just one, but two Cass Gilberts (senior and junior) is a great place to do some research. But the Burton Collection, with its statue-studded, open two-story room, is the best place for genealogical research. It’s also most beautiful in the spring, when the trees on the lawn are in blossom on a misty morning, as seen through floor-to-ceiling windows. Who says bookworms don’t get out enough?
13) Tour the 19th century at Greenfield Village: The collection of historic buildings at the Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village is without parallel anywhere in the world. The old man himself paid to have these landmarks moved to the site piece by piece, and a walk down the street can be jarring: one moment the Deep South, the next stately New England, then merry old England. It’s also the only place in town where Model T’s regularly putter down the street, or where you can watch a game of old-time baseball.
14) See Detroit Industry at the DIA: If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Diego Rivera’s controversial mural depicts workers at Henry Ford’s Rouge Complex, with workers toiling over the assembly line, amid machines that look sort of like Toltec and Aztec deities. The murals have been reviled, praised, attacked and defended, but never ignored. Every Detroiter should spend at least a few minutes looking at this monument to the workers and technicians of the Motor City.
15) See, um, cars at the NAIAS: We may not be huge car guys, but we have to admit that thing we used to call the Detroit Auto Show is a big, big deal. This year, we saw international carmakers present their million-dollar exhibits in a newly regionalized and updated Cobo Hall. Everyone should see it once — even if once is enough.
16) Navigate through thousands of sunbathing country fans at Hoedown: Maybe you expected us to take some cheap shots at the Hoedown. Hardly. The biggest annual event in downtown Detroit, this hootenanny regularly draws as many as a million guests, and features acts from all over the country. For a region in which so many residents call the South the old country, the Hoedown brings on the twang something fierce. Yup. We reckon so.
17) Shit, just dance at Movement (and DEMF): Is there any downtown in the country that hosts this much techno? Heck no! With two big festivals in the offing this year, and probably a gazillion accompanying loft parties, club events, and other all-night sonic benders, thousands will descend on Detroit from all over the world. Join them and shake your ass off.
18) Cheer a team at Detroit Derby Girls: You don’t need to know a thing about the rules. Just pick a team and cheer on your colors. Even if you’ve never seen it before, you’ll soon be rapt watching these ladies of grace and fury roll down the boards — and hear yourself screaming.
19) Make out with a goth at City Club: For almost 30 years, an edgy dance scene has occupied the lower level of Detroit’s historic Leland Hotel. On some nights, this is Goth Central, just the place to find a languid, pallid hottie weary of this mortal coil.
20) Buy a black-and-white print of a penis at The Dirty Show: You gotta hand it to Jerry Vile: He turned a jerry-rigged art event into the biggest art event in town, with thousands attending over two weekends. Yes, sex sells, and The Dirty Show is the perfect place to buy that immodest piece of art to add a little slap-and-tickle to your walls.
21) Eat “The Triple Threat” at Slows Bar-B-Q: Slows was there first, not only trailblazing the sophisticated barbecue concept in metro Detroit, but staking a claim along a sleepy stretch of Michigan Avenue in Corktown a million years ago in 2005. These days, if you can get a seat, try “The Triple Threat” to conquer an entrée’s worth of bacon, ham and pulled pork put between bread and called a sandwich.
22) Seduce a mate at the Detroit Opera House: An opera is rich with seductive opportunities. Yes, the unhappy endings can be a bummer. But the rich interiors and lush staging excite the senses. The tragic stories and passionate singing inflame the emotions. Plus, nothing screams class quite as deafeningly as the opera, and your date knows it. No matter what you do later that night, that person you took to the opera will have to grudgingly admit that you at least aspire to culture.
23) Admire Orchestra Hall while watching the Detroit Symphony Orchestra: Seeing our DSO, under the baton of Leonard Slatkin, is a feast for the ears. And experiencing this in the historic gem that is Orchestra Hall instead of some modernist cube adds a note of pageantry not heard often enough.
24) Drink and parade through Corktown on St. Patrick’s Day: Ah, public drinking, thy name is Corktown — at least during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The organizers insist that the parade is a family event, and it is, much of it. But for exuberant tailgaters, thirsty bar crawlers and Charlie LeDuff, it is an excuse to get blitzed on green beer and go wild. How it all comes off so peacefully year after year is a little bit of Irish magic.
25) Get freaked the fuck out at Theatre Bizarre: About 15 years ago, the Theatre Bizarre crew turned the back yards of a few cheap houses along State Fair Street into a creepy circus midway, hosting the city’s most anarchic costume party every Halloween season. The city shut them down, but they’ve only expanded into a larger, crazier anarchic costume party in an established venue. The tickets are prized, and the experience is about as close as you can get to Burning Man without leaving city limits.
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