Picture this: On your lunch hour, you head to a guided meditation class. Later, you chat with your book club or pop in to the DIA for a bit of art in the afternoon. You take a cooking class with a Selden Standard chef or catch a concert while sipping on a craft cocktail. And yes, you’re doing all of this from home — we’re going all in on Metro Detroit virtual events.
Since COVID-19 emerged in Michigan and the stay-at-home order went into effect in March, Michiganders have experienced some seriously heavy stuff: sickness, loss, high rates of unemployment and a slew of unexpected life changes — and what constitutes “normal” life has continued to change, even as the state marks a steady decline in positive cases and deaths.
Gov. Getchen Whitmer lifted the stay-at-home-order on June 1, with some caveats: social distancing is required, masks still need to be worn and there is still, as we know, no vaccine. As restrictions fall away in Metro Detroit, more businesses are welcoming customers back and we’re encouraged to spend time outdoors (while following safety procedures).
But spending time indoors in groups is still one of the riskiest types of activities, meaning that many of us — whether limited by state rules or our own personal decisions — are avoiding them for now. Movie theaters and indoor gym facilities are still closed in Metro Detroit, and indoor dance performances, concerts and other cultural events aren’t on the menu for awhile.
That’s a big loss for cultural consumers — but it’s also a significant disadvantage for the nonprofits that typically produce Detroit’s best programming, CultureSource Executive Director Omari Rush told Detour last month.
“The core and essential activity for us is bringing people together, convening, allowing people to have hands-on experiences, close experiences,” Rush said, noting that social distancing for performances is “going to be very challenging… for some organizations, it just won’t be financially feasible.”
For now, conferences are still experienced via laptops and cell phones, and the closest we’ll come to going to a concert is tuning in to Facebook Live. COVID-19 has had a particular influence on how we consume music — a recent study by Nielsen Music/MRC, “Tracking the Impact on the Entertainment Landscape,” shows an uptick in sign-ups for entertainment subscriptions, increased music video streaming and using media as an “escape,” especially among 35-54 year olds.
“It remains to be seen, still, how people will consume this for the long-term because obviously, it’s a wildly different experience than being there in the flesh,” said Gary Graff, a music journalist for the Oakland Press and other publications. “I’m seeing a lot of [online shows] being done, and they’re being done well — and it gives you a place to go see and hear music that you like being performed.”
Local orgs that have shifted to virtual events and discussions are, simply put, doing big work to keep us entertained, intellectually stimulated, active and safe.
We’ve been following their offerings over the last few months, and it turns out, our events calendar is just as full as before. We’ve rounded up the best discussion series, workshops, classes, performances and more from Detroit’s culture creators — keep reading for our definitive guide to virtual events in Metro Detroit.
Live Cycle Delight Join Zoom fitness classes on the regular, whether you have a stationary bike at home or no equipment at all. Founder Amina Daniels is trying to keep up some normalcy at her West Village fitness studio and offshoot LCD Hot (yoga) for the enthusiastic members, but some classes will be free. Find the full schedule here — it’s $12 for a virtual class drop-in.
Eisenhower Dance Detroit: The Rochester-based studio is offering all their classes virtually this summer. Check out the full schedule of daily classes, including jazz, acro and mommy & me sessions.
The Fit Park: The Ferndale studio is another way to support local businesses and stay in shape while you’re stuck indoors. Owners Mark and Thea Parker are leading the way in virtual high-intensity workouts, weight training and yoga during COVID-19 Monday through Sunday on Zoom. Click here for the online schedule.
Mindful Detroit: Free slow flow yoga on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. and lunch hour meditation and seated yoga on Tuesdays at noon, via Zoom. Teacher Caitlin Brown is great at working across skill levels and has a very calming energy. Suggested donation: $10-$15.
Citizen Yoga: Founder Kacee Must and her team are offering virtual yoga classes for both kids and adults. Try guided meditation sessions, early-bird Coffee + Philosophy discussions… and finally get the hang of a handstand! Rent videos on your own time with citizen [AT HOME] (rentals are between $5-$8). Or, try citizen [LIVE] — the schedule changes weekly (Monday through Sunday). Register via Citizen Yoga Royal Oak on MindBody. Find online package options and offerings through the website or Instagram page.
Aerobics Underground: The Hamtramck-based studio is all about body positivity and workouts for everyone — no equipment needed. Workouts stream live on Facebook Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and Fridays at 10 p.m.
Detroit History Club’s Bedtime Stories: Put on your pjs and fall asleep to some strange-but-true tales, diving into local legends and the more obscure.
Charles H. Wright Museum: The #WrightatHome initiative is keeping Detroiters filled with African American history knowledge through daily posts and discussions — plus, revisit past performances and lectures with just a few clicks.
Arab American National Museum: From the “Yalla Eat!” chef series to a film series and a book club, AANM has a robust schedule of offerings in the sweet spot between education and entertainment. Find all the upcoming experiences on the schedule here.
MSU Extension Wild About Backyard Conservation Webinar Series: If you’re an avid gardener looking for tips on promoting wildlife and conservation in your own backyard. These virtual conversations are happening every other Wednesday at 11 a.m. through October, so get ready to boost that green thumb of yours. $5 per class.
The Detroit Zoo: Their Virtual Vitamin Z initiative brings your favorite wild creatures right to your screen. Learn some super cool facts about the zoo residents you know and love — who hail from the Amazon to the Arctic!
The Michigan Science Center: Interested to know what wise owls eat? The Michigan Science Center is hosting ECHO Live! — it’s a lively science demo show that airs daily on YouTube and Facebook weekdays at 2:30 p.m. Plus, catch up on past ECHO Live! Shows or take their tips to try your hand at science at home.
The Detroit Writing Room: Do you love to meet fellow writers, podcasters, designers and talented Detroit entrepreneurs? The Detroit Writing Room’s downtown co-working space in Detroit may be closed, but they’re hosting virtual events every week to help keep those creative juices flowing.
Motown Museum: Get to know your favorite Motown artists like Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Tina Marie and The Marvelettes, just to name a few. The Motown Museum’s Motown Artist Spotlight videos offer quick slices of history on the Motown Museum’s Facebook page, featuring fun facts and trivia.
Bamboo Detroit: Are you looking to pitch your business idea or connect with Detroit’s startup community? Stay involved and energized with Bamboo’s virtual networking opportunities and workshops.
Build Institute: If you’re running a small business or thinking about launching one, check out Build’s virtual events offerings via Facebook so you can stay afloat and make sure you’re during the pandemic (find additional COVID-19 resources here for businesses). For one-on-one support, check out their virtual office hours.
Virtual Cinema Detroit: The independent nonprofit community cinema has a great selection of flicks, with 48-hour rental periods and regular new releases — see what’s playing.
DFT @ Home: Support the Detroit Film Theatre and connect over films for everyone in your family with DFT @ Home. Click here for the schedule.
Detroit documentaries: Get your Detroit culture fix with these movies, streaming on platforms you love (YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Google Play, Amazon Prime). Not sure where to start? Try “Searching for Sugarman,” an acclaimed film about singer-songwriter Rodriguez, or check out an uplifting tale of resilience with “The United States of Detroit.”
Detroit Public Library: You can still borrow ebooks, audiobooks and stream movies, and get your questions answered by a librarian online while the library is closed through July. Trust a librarian to have your back even during a pandemic and enjoy digital offerings like ebooks, audiobooks, streaming movies and online learning databases. DPL’s Ask a Librarian system is available to help you get a temporary card, renew your old one or just answer your burning research questions. Download Libby and hoopla, which let you check out ebooks as a Detroit Public Library member. Or purchase an audiobook through Libro.fm, which lets you choose the indie bookstore you want to have the profits.
Unerased Book Club: Check out this monthly book club started by reader Sheela Lal to build community through Asian and Asian American literature. Their current read is “Lucky Boy” by Shanthi Sekaran.
Metro Times collection of poems, short stories: When you don’t have time for a full book… literary geniuses with Detroit roots like Nandi Comer, Lolita Hernandez and Terry Blackhawk shared some special work, and we simply can’t get enough.
Planet Detroit book club: The environmental publication hosts regular discussions on books about environmental issues. Join them next month on Thursday, July 9 at 7 pm., to chat about “Waterfront Porch: Reclaiming Detroit’s Industrial Waterfront as a Gathering Place for All,” joined by author John H. Hartig.
Become a Detroit expert: Plan your own book club and dive deep into Detroit history and culture by checking out some titles about the city — “Origins of the Urban Crisis” is a must read.
The Detroit Institute of Arts virtual art and kid-friendly learning opportunities: The DIA at Home guide offers a whole suite of online discussions, performances (streaming on platforms from SoundCloud to YouTube) and activities. Explore many of the museum’s actual pieces in their virtual art collection, enjoy kid-friendly art lessons inspired by famous artists (like art rubbings and neighborhood collages), adult activities (like artful cooking), lectures and more. One fave: The video of Detroit battle rappers Marv Won and Quest MCODY discussing Kehinde Wiley’s painting “Office of the Hussars.”
Detroit Riverfront Conservancy: The Conservancy and other orgs released a serial coloring book, with scenes from 14 public spaces and parks in the city. Print ‘em out and color away with some little ones while remembering fun moments from last summer. No printer? There are probably more kid-friendly apps out there, but we uploaded the outlines to Adobe Sketch to dabble in a little digital watercolor. Share your creations with #ColoringDetroitParks.
Cranbrook Art Museum art projects and coloring pages: The museum used pieces from its collection as the jumping off point for digestible art history lessons that turn into art prompts. Approachable for kids and open-ended enough to stimulate older crafters — check out their #CREATEwithCAM Instagram story highlight for all the lessons. The museum also lets you explore the collection online in 3D, download coloring pages and learn more about the works and history of its arts and architecture.
Darkroom Detroit photography workshops: Boost your photog skills while in quarantine — the studio offers occasional virtual classes for all ages and levels. Click here for the latest schedule and pricing info.
Detroit Mosaic Youth Theater: The youth theater is reopening this week, but they’ve got a bunch of fun stage readings and performances to check out on Facebook. Donate if you can to help invest in the future of Mosaic’s school-based and community programs for kids and teens.
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit: Go deep on contemporary art with the online exhibition series Daily Rush — with some timely features on the group New Red Order’s engagement with public monuments — and they also have hosted some virtual discussions. Find more on their site.
Six Feet of Distance: The platform Six Feet of Distance launched in April, pulling together “online Detroit art + social practice projects in a way that aligns with the velocity of the new social and economic realities,” including Art Detroit Now, Room Project, Essay’d and others. Beyond the curated collection of timely work (from poems to performances), they’ve got resources for arts makers and supporters.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra: Relive DSO performances highlighting the music of greats like Beethoven and Vivaldi with friends and fellow classical music lovers. Check out upcoming shows on the DSO site,
Motor City Soul Club: Dan Austin made a mix of rare and underplayed Northern Soul 45s, with musical trivia and tunes you might not hear on the dance floor.
Local artist Garret Koehler’s playlist: The founder of Detroit artist residency Assemble Sound recently shared a hometown hits playlist with Respect the Neighbors (via Spotify) that will keep you pumped for 98 minutes, at least. It has some names you may know — Sada Baby, Anna Burch — some we definitely didn’t (Kynzi, The Doozers). Plus a new fave, Choker.
Detroit techno beats: Detour reader Jenn Caudill shares how the electronic dance music (EDM) community has stayed present during the quarantine. There are plenty of live streams, fundraisers and DJs and producers who are interacting with fans more than ever. “I cannot believe some of the outstanding support and care for each other I have seen in some of my artist Facebook groups, Instagram friends, and Twitch streams,” Caudill said. Here are some of her top recs: MeanMugMusic (Detroit-based collective) live streams on Twitch, a dedicated Michigan DJ who streams sets and chats with fans and an Instagram page with top-notch live stream tips from @detroitdotdance.
Movement: Why limit your techno fest to one weekend a year? Ahead of this year’s rescheduled fest, planned for September, you can listen to the virtual Movement at Home streams again and again on YouTube, plus some newer virtual DJ sets.
The Keynote Sisters mobile/virtual concerts: The Keynote Sisters, led by Jacklyn and Phoebe Holmes, expanded beyond virtual shows. Since the beginning of April, they’re hosting concerts from their car, helping locals commemorate weddings, birthdays and other special occasions happening during the pandemic. You can learn more about scheduling a drive-by show the duo will perform from their van — here.
The Ark Family Room Series: This Ann Arbor-based folk and roots music venue is still repping great bands during COVID-19, bringing you performances from Michigan artists via Facebook throughout the week, typically around 8 p.m. Click here for the weekly line-up, and donate if you can.
Willis Show Bar: One of Detroit’s hot spots for bringing you some of the best nightlife entertainment in the city, Willis Show Bar has presented 10 live performances and cocktail tutorials through the Willis at Home series. Check out all the replays here.
DIA on Spotify: Ever wondered what Diego Rivera, Vincent van Gogh and Andy Warhol listened to? Thanks to the Detroit Institute of Arts and Detroit marketing and creative agency Lafayette American, you can discover famous artists’ favorite music based on letters they wrote way back when. Just follow the DIA’s Spotify station to tune in!
DPTV Sunday Brunch and Music Series: Amp up those lazy mornings with Detroit Public TV and WRCJ-FM (90.9)’s live recordings from great local bands Sundays at 11 a.m.
Lullabies from Detroit: A lot of us are struggling with sleeplessness — calm yourself before bed with these nightly lullabies offered by Detroit singers and musicians.
Eat and drink:
Recipes from Jonathan Kung: The owner of Kung Food Market Studio in Eastern Market is helping followers battle kitchen fatigue live on IG, with recipes like tzatziki, frittatas and the ultimate roast chicken. Follow @kung_food for more.
Cooking with Lena Sareini: Ready for some kitchen science? The Selden Standard pastry chef adds humor, with an occasional chubby cat cameo, to her step-by-step vids.
Mixology with Melanie Mack: If combining plum wine and White Claw is wrong, we don’t wanna be right. This local bartender extraordinaire shared videos walking you through how to whip up cocktails on her Facebook page.
Support local markets and farmers: Pick up fresh produce without entering the grocery store and turn dinner prep into its own kind of local experience. Eastern Market is still open for business on Saturdays, with the ability to preorder or reserve some produce and flowers in advance — get the latest schedules here. Looking for a smaller scene? Eater Detroit has some suggestions for CSAs and other food boxes you can get from local growers. And Taste the Local Difference has a roundup of Black-owned and -operated farms in Michigan you can follow on Instagram. Add the different growers for info about where and when they’re selling.
Dining out at home: If you’re still feeling wary about spending time in close quarters with other diners at restaurants, you can still eat from your fave local spots — here’s a list of the best places to order delivery with just a few taps, whether you’re in the mood for Detroit-style botana to mouthwatering jerk kitchen. Or if you want to put in a little more effort, there are even more top-notch restaurants doing curbside pickup. Here’s a list — check with individual businesses for the latest schedules and offerings.
Try an out-of-the-box activity:
Keep Growing Detroit’s Detroit Garden Resource Center: Ready to chow down on fresh produce or upgrade your garden? Check out their newly-launched farm store, where you can reserve and pick up plants, seeds and more. KGD is also sharing some tips through virtual seminars every Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Detroit Historical Society’s oral history project: It’s been more than 100 years since the last global pandemic upended American life — and this time, we have smartphones. Help the Detroit Historical Society preserve a slice of life today for the next century of Detroiters who want to understand the past. Hit the record button on your laptop or phone to make it happen, and then upload it directly to the museum’s website. Continue the historical reflection and hop onto their Facebook page for discussions and engaging vids all about Detroit’s past.
Detroit Experience Factory virtual sightseeing tours: Do you miss roaming around Detroit? Get in on virtual sightseeing tours to explore unique spots like the Woodward Corridor or learn some cool facts about Detroit art and architecture. A $5-50 donation is suggested.
Planet Ant Training Center Live Streaming Show: We could all probably use a laugh right now, and what better way to make it happen than with Planet Ant? Join the improv experts Saturdays at 5 p.m. and chat about, well, improv. Plus, check out their Facebook page for consistently hilarious stories and vids, like “Boxed in with Friends.”
All artwork by Detroit illustrator Steven Shik (stevenshik.com)
This list was compiled by Allison Jacobs and Kate Abbey-Lambertz