Dance Economy

Berlin Club Boss Eyes Detroit

Hegeman at Tresor caro Ponizak
Mr. Hegeman at the famous Tresor, a club in a vault.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The once-devastated German capital could be a model for culturally rebuilding the hollowed-out capital of the U.S. auto industry.

  • Facts


    • Berlin is home to more than 28,000 companies in art, fashion, film and music.
    • Detroit has lost more than half of its population and suffers 25 percent unemployment.
    • Thousands of buildings in Detroit stand empty. According to estimates, structures in a third of the city area have been demolished.
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Nightclub owner Dimitri Hegemann is up way too early for a Wednesday morning. He has a meeting with some politicians in Room 311 of the parliamentary house in Berlin’s Mitte district, and sits in front of his MacBook, going over ideas for an unlikely project: How Berlin can help Detroit, the broken and bankrupt U.S. auto capital, get its groove back.

A quarter century ago, Mr. Hegemann started a techno music revolution in some abandoned buildings of formerly divided Berlin. Now he wants to do the same in America’s crumbling “Motor City” – where techno music was born – and where block after block of deserted businesses, warehouses and factories blight the cityscape today.

Mr. Hegemann is convinced the rundown industrial metropolis can learn and profit from Berlin’s creative class, and is seeking support of political leaders, both in the German capital and in Detroit.

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