Summertime in Detroit just feels…different.
It’s hard to describe, but the good vibes are palpable when you’re riding down Jefferson Avenue listening to music just loud enough for the people in the next car over to be able to bob their head along with the melody. And the vibe is especially different when there’s an event that brings the whole city out.
It just feels good. That feeling can’t be duplicated anywhere else. No one should even try to recreate it. You can only try to add to it. And if you are going to try to add to it, you have to add to it in a unique way that respects the city’s culture, its history and its residents.
THAT’S WHY THE MONROE STREET MIDWAY EXISTS. IT’S A DOWNTOWN PLAYGROUND FOR ADULTS AND CHILDREN, SPECIFICALLY CREATED TO COMPLEMENT THE AUTHENTIC SUMMERTIME VIBES AND THE CULTURAL RELEVANCE OF PASTIMES OF THE PEOPLE IN THE CITY.
There’s a roller skating rink, but it’s not just any roller skating rink. It’s RollerCade – Detroit’s oldest Black-owned roller rink and quite possibly the oldest Black-owned rink in the country.
The rink itself is a masterpiece, surrounded by murals from city son Sheefy McFly. The whole space – situated right in the middle of downtown – is a strolling art exhibit, in fact. In addition to Sheefy’s artistic presence, there are murals by Tony Whlgn, Olivia Guterson, India Solomon and David Rubello, all Detroit legends in their own right. Each artist is independently magnificent, but the Midway gave them a blank canvas to create a unified work that tells a story about how art and artists are truly the city’s No. 1 export.
But it’s not just the art that sets the Midway mood. The DJs and live performances help do that, too. (Because what’s a roller rink experience without an amazing playlist, right?) Local DJs do live sets at the Midway every night, ranging from funk and techno to hip hop and Top 40 sounds. The energy gets you in the mood to move whether you’re a novice or someone who tries to keep up with Rockin’ Richard Houston.
Even the basketball courts at the Midway are different. The artwork spills onto the courts to create a colorful undertone to the sometimes-intense action that takes place on the blacktop. Kids from every neighborhood around the city link up here. Often times, people come not knowing anyone, but leave with plans to reconnect again on the courts with the people they met at the Midway.
The roller skating, basketball, art and live music are the main attractions. But there’s also mini-golf, food trucks, a pop-up merchandise shop that features rotating local businesses, and backyard games like four square and lawn darts. The Midway is a place you can bring the family for a day out, you can bring a date and chill, or you can come for some exercise with all the programming like yoga and aerobics classes that are held every week by different Detroit fitness instructors.
BUT HEAR ME OUT: EVEN IF YOU DON’T COME TO ROLLER SKATE OR PLAY BASKETBALL OR LISTEN TO THE MUSIC OR TO PLAY MINI-GOLF OR TO ART GAZE, JUST COME TO EXPERIENCE THE MONROE STREET MIDWAY. THERE’S TRULY NOTHING LIKE IT AND YOU WON’T REGRET WHAT DETROITERS HAVE HELPED CREATE TO ADD TO THAT INDESCRIBABLE FEELING OF SUMMERTIME IN THE CITY.
The vibes are just…different.