Have we shown you our home? This is our Detroit home. So many stories in this building, where to even begin? We know someone who rode his tricycle through the hallways as a child. We know someone who ran a shop in the basement. We know musicians who performed in the parlor. We don't know anyone who was around when it was Leong Hand Laundry, but an old photo at The Bronx Bar reminds us that yes, it was once that, too.
Let's throwback to the 1990s. When it was the legendary Zoots Coffeehouse and Space 19.
In this piece for Model D, Walter Wasacz interviewed Adriel Thornton, Greg Baise and Joel Peterson about those halcyon days:
"Me and Clark (Warner) and Aaron Anderson (later of Zoots management) began doing ambient rooms at parties," says Thornton, who by then was running a shop called Space 19, featuring his clothing line Visual Laundry, in the basement of the Zoot's house at 4470 Second Ave. "We moved those to Monday nights at Zoot's and it just took off. We had Scott Zacharias, Carlos Souffront, Derek Plaslaiko (some of the best young, up-and-coming DJs in the city) playing every week."
"I remember seeing live sets by Ersatz Audio artists that Adam Miller (of Adult.) brought in," Baise says. "I was playing Trivial Pursuit with some people when (glitchcore innovators from Sheffield, UK) Autechre played there. We didn't know it was them and we seriously heckled them, hahaha."
"That was the nature of the night. People could play whatever," says Adriel.
"I was there too, haha, it was March 1996," Baise says. "They were awesome. I just didn't know it was them (at Zoots)."
"It started to become a thing around then," Thornton says. "Not just our friends were coming. We started charging $1 cover. The fury over that has never been matched by anything I've done since. People said I was like the greediest motherfucker on the planet, hahaha."
Around the same time, a party that Thornton was involved in at 1515 Broadway was raided by Detroit Police, who were accompanied by news reporters. The raid has long been considered a low point in the underground party scene. Trust for media eroded, then largely disappeared. More raids, more media attention, now by television crews, had a stifling, corrosive effect on local rave culture.
"It was on the front page of the Free Press. Channel 7 showed up to talk to us at Zoots," Thornton says. "We had a meeting -- I was with Sam (Fotias of Paxahau) and Richie Hawtin -- we said we weren't going to talk to the media after that."
Zoot's was branded as home to "Detroit's illegal rave scene," which Peterson, Baise and Thornton say was ridiculous.
"No one even danced there, except when the TV cameras showed up, hahaha," Baise says.
"The media said it was the place to get 'secret passwords' to find out where the raves were," says Peterson.
And the neighborhood? So much history. On Saturday, April 2 at 1pm we are pleased to offer a special Cass Corridor Walking Tour led by Armando Delicato, co-author of Detroit's Cass Corridor. Take a stroll back in time to learn about the social & architectural history of this storied community. Join us.
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