Walking through the streets of midtown Detroit, examining the cultural underbelly of a highly underrated city, gives one the impression of artistic discovery. What many Michigan citizens fail to realize is that Detroit has an extraordinarily unique character resembling the likes of such artistic hot-spots as Austin, Texas.
Texas is known for its “everything is bigger” bravado and conservative nature, but Austin is a strong exception to this notion. The city is one of the most liberal cities in the entire nation with its never ending supply of live music and plethora of artistic areas, such as, the famous, SoCo area, which is short for South Congress Rd.
It is hard not to feel a sense of home and security in a town like this because of how similar it is to Detroit’s artistic endeavors. Midtown, the location of Detroit Medical Center’s campus, historic district, and Wayne State University, is a major component to the city as an art sanction. Similar to Austin, almost anytime you want to hit a live show, there is one going on at such hotspots as, The Lager House or The Magic Stick, famous for hosting The White Stripes, before their big break into professional music history.
Austin’s main strip of live music is held on 6thstreetarea between N. Lamar Blvd. and Red River St. The more famous venues are Stubbs BBQ, which is The Lager House on steroids, and B.D Riley’s, an exact atmospheric replica to The Magic Stick.
The SoCo neighborhood, once an area rotting away with slumping businesses and withered citizens, has been transformed into an artist’s haven to explore. Located just over the Congress Avenue Bridge, one can observe the diverse cultural sea of people and beautifully decorated stores such as, Lucy In Disguise With Diamonds, a bohemian-esque costume and vintage shop covered in assorted artwork ranging from Jesus Christ to the Beatles in a mural, and The Turquoise Door, which is a magnificently decorated center for non-profit, Latin American artwork. The area captures a certain essence that matches that of Detroit’s artistic hotspots, such as, The Detroit Institute of Art (5200 Woodward Ave) and the wonderfully decorated vintage clothing store, Showtime (located on 5708 Woodward Ave).
Like Austin, Detroit shares the same push of expression: The light-hearted wake of peace and love that comes through creative force. Austin vows for you to keep the city weird. The Motor City has the pride to stay strange as well (in an eclectic way of course).