Dally in the Alley

Dally in the Alley
Dally in the Alley on Hancock, between 2nd & 3rd Street.

Dally in the Alley is Detroit’s largest annual community festival, located in the Cass Corridor district (the north end, close to Wayne State University) in Midtown Detroit. Completely organized and executed by a team of community volunteers, “The Dally” gives an offering of live music, visual arts, performance, food and beer.



Beginnings: 1866-1925

In 1866, Michigan Governor Lewis Cass owned a huge piece of farmland that spread over the current-day Cass Corridor. He sold a portion to William A. Butler that bordered Putnam to Prentis, and was bounded 2nd and 3rd Street. Apartment buildings blossomed as heirs of Butler began dividing and selling up the land. Streets began to be paved as the city expanded north.

The neighborhood started to come together at the turn of the century. Second and Third were now paved with cedar and Forrest with brick, west of Woodward Avenue. In 1899 there were only 5 houses in this neighborhood, four of them being on Forrest and one on Second. In 1904, a man named Forrest Dodge purchased one of the houses on Forrest, and built the now infamous garage in the back (in the alley). Rumor has it that Horace created his own automobile back there, knowing how to from working for Henry Ford.

Location of Dally in the Alley

In 1910 The Winthrop, the first apartment building on Second, was built. It was the only one until the Hollender went up on the corner of Second and Forrest in 1912. More and more apartment buildings started being constructed, primarily by residents living in the area.

The Wellesley, located on Hancock, was the most extravagant, largest apartment building in 1914. The Sherbrooke, located at Hancock and Third, was built that same year and would eventually be owned by Wayne State Housing in recent years. Due to a boiler problem, the building had to be shut down for financial reasons. Wayne State University has then sold the building to a private owner and is yet to be back in commission.

In 1925 the Goldberg family leased the store on the corner of Forrest and Third to the Kroger Company, and eventually moved business to the corner of Second and Hancock. Today the Yono family runs the University Village Market (usually referred to locally as “University Liquor”), the party store on this site.

Present Times: 1977-Present

The very first “Dally” was held in 1977 on the first Saturday after Labor Day. The fair didn’t have its official “Dally in the Alley” title until 1982. Since then, the Dally has grown and expanded to what it is today; a popular music arts and music festival bringing in thousands of visitors.

Along with new artists and performers each year, there also comes the year’s Dally in the Alley Poster, used to advertise the event. Each year, the community calls upon a local artist to create the specially designed poster and is showcased throughout the neighborhood. Most party stores, notably Marcus Market and University Market (located on Forrest and Third), have the posters from each year displayed on their walls. Posters from each year can be found on the Dally’s website.


One of the many vendors at Dally in the Alley

Dally in the Alley over the years has displayed numerous vendors. The vendors present a great place to shop, a place eat at the hotspots in Detroit, enjoy local music talent and drink beer throughout the whole day. The vendors are arranged in a first come, first serve manner. A small fee is also applied to those partaking in the Dally as vendors. Vendors provide a plethora of items for Dally guests.

A few things sold at the vendors are homemade jewelry, unique arts and crafts, music records, t-shirts, etc. Art and poetry workshops are also provided. Dally in the Alley caters to adults and children; they offer family-friendly activities. Some vendors will provide stations for arts and crafts and face painting. Attendees of Dally in the Alley are lucky to be surrounded by Detroit’s finest local restaurants. There is a whole district just for the wonderful food offered. Some of the food vendors Dally in the Alley hosts are Turkey Tom, Taste of Ethiopia, Oslo, Kola’s Kitchen, Mario’s and more. One of the big features of the vendors is the beer. Dally in the Alley offers a full day of drink non-stop beer. Beer tends to be an important item at Dally in the Alley as the name of the event is a medieval drinking song. Dally in the Alley has proved to be a sensational event right in the heart of Detroit.


In 1977, an inner city art fair evolved into a performing arts festival on the campus of Wayne State University in the vicinity of W Hancock Street, 2nd Avenue and West Forest. Today it is known as Dally in the Alley. The North Cass Community Union Is the proud sponsor of Detroit’s Dally in the Alley. [1] Proceeds from the Dally events are used to support North Cass projects which improve the quality of life for people who live and work in the North Cass Community. The North Cass Community Union has used Dally proceeds to fund an environmental lawsuit against the City of Detroit trash incinerator, provide roaming security during nighttime hours and grant scholarships to enable neighborhood children to attend the Art Center Music School. [2]

The most recent festival was held on September 10, 2011 and had over 183 applicants competing for 44 performance slots. Music and other performances were held on four stages: The Alley Stage, Forest Stage, Garden Stage and the Electronic Stage. Most of the stage performers have roots from Detroit. The list of performers included the following:

Dally Goers dancing and grooving to one of the many performers of the day.

Alley Stage

  • Bright Echo
  • Macklin Underown
  • Gun Lake
  • Odd Hours
  • Johnny Ill Band
  • The Crooks
  • The Octopus
  • K.I.D.S
  • Phantasmagoria
  • History of Panic
  • Passalacqua

Forest Stage

  • The Eeks
  • The Good
  • Noches Tropicales
  • LacyBaby
  • The Hounds Below
  • The Sixth Generation
  • House Phone
  • Noman
  • Nico Marks
  • Bones
  • I, Crime

Garden Stage

  • Patrick Davy & The Ghosts
  • Revoir
  • Our Mighty Heart
  • RenCen CoolBeanz
  • Jesse & the Gnome
  • Audra Kuat & Blair Tribute Hour
  • Maray Fuego
  • Jon Zott
  • Phantom Cats
  • Body Holographic
  • Kelly Jean Caldwell

Electronic Stage

  • Watusi
  • Super Fucked
  • Tour Detroit
  • Madis One
  • Gin & Tonic
  • Kevin Reynolds
  • Michael Geiger
  • Dethlab & Detroit Fire Guild
  • DJ Minx
  • Will Sessions

Background information on each of the artists is provided on the event’s website [3] by clicking on the artist’s name. A few are highlighted here.

Macklin Underdown is a University of Michigan Student and bassist for Ann Arbor acts “Gun Lake” & “Chrome Sparks”. He describes his style of music as “a mix between electric and acoustic with lush vocal harmonies.” [4] Bright Echo is a Detroit, Michigan band consisting of five members. On their Facebook page, they describe their music as “a sonic and sometimes dreamy sound usually built around a structure with peaks and valleys and sometimes even real choruses. Somber tones accompanied with up tempo beats throughout.” [5]

Noman is a Detroit trio who explore the history of punk and folk. Woodbrige Records is quoted reporting that they “find their sound somewhere in-between, creating a delicate intermediary with pop hinted melodies through raspy rousing vocals that can both inspire and enrage.” The band is touring in support of their second full length album Broadcast released on Woodbridge Records. [6]

Maray Fuego is a professional Musician, Artist, Rambler, Accordionist, Circus sideshow enthusiast. Her music is described as “a convergence of different influences, including punk, gypsy jazz and smoky lounge music.” Maray Fuego plays the fiddle, guitar, melodica and accordion. [7]

Detroit Fire Guild describes themselves on their website as “a collection of independent fire and circus performers, artists and enthusiasts working together to create safe professional and breathtaking events while benefiting the community at large. Troupe members are proficient in one or more performance and production skills such as hooping, poi or staff spinning, juggling, magic illusions, acrobatics, costuming and make up. Troupe members also teach workshops at open practices.” [8]

These Artists have converged with a number of other primarily Detroit-based performers on the Dally in the Alley art festival in Detroit, Michigan for the one weekend every late summer. They all bring their unique interests and talents to a common stage and have transformed a small-time art fair into a festival of the performing arts. This festival has gone beyond just providing entertainment to the community. Proceeds from the event have made the neighborhoods safer, fought injustice and given the youth a place to chase their dreams and aspirations in the field of art and music.


Dally's first poster in 1982.

Gary Grimshaw designed the first Dally in the alley poster in 1982, which featured dancing cats by Brian Taylor. Gary was born 1946 in Detroit, Michigan and graduated from Lincoln Park high school. Gary started his artwork at the age of twenty and has continued prospering ever since. Gary went on to create two other posters in 1986 and 1987. [9]

Jerome Ferreti designed the Dally in the Alley poster of 2001. He took classes at a few universities, including Wayne State University. Jerome is also a part of a society of artists called Slippery Weasel, which is centered in Detroit, Michigan. The Slippery Weasel’s first exhibit was in Rochester, Michigan in 2005. [10] Niko Marks performed at Dally in the Alley recently in 2011. Niko was influenced at an early age by his mother to better his musical skills. Throughout his teenage years, he was inspired by many greats such as Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney and Elton John. Nikko would then go on to join Raphael Merriweathers, Scott Weatherspoon, and Michael Banks to form a production team called Members of the House. Soon after the group was formed, they came out with a hit song called “Summer Nights”. The hit song was merely the beginning of Niko’s career. [11]

Kevin Reynolds was also a performer at Dally in the Alley in 2011. Kevin was born in Detroit, Michigan to parents who worked in the auto industry. Kevin and his family lived in student housing while his mother attended medical school at Michigan State University. Since Kevin lived in student housing, an environment that housed many students from all over the world, he was able to experience many different sounds. Kevin heard all types of music that came from many areas such as China’s urban centers, Middle East spaced melodic sounds, and Tejano music. This inspired Kevin to create his own music and eventually lead him to his first chance at a music career working at Derrick May’s seminal classic label. [12]


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