Every time I leave and come back to this city, I’m terrified by the breakneck speed at which gentrification can transform space. I can think of no better example of this phenomenon than the case of the Ex Fábrica de Harina. The abandoned industrial site in a not-particularly-desirable corner of the metropolis had been infamous these past few years as an underground nightlife hotspot. Think seemingly endless DIY raves with international crews of drag queens blowing designer drugs into each others’ orifices and maze-like cruising areas in abandoned grain warehouses. It was a wild ride.
This year, I was excited to see the site is hosting the Feria de la Acción, a new art fair with a performance-heavy program. We showed up late to their opening night party, but didn’t end up going in. Our friends were already leaving and the main fair wasn’t open to preview the art. But mostly we were all horrified at what had happened to our once-beloved abandoned flour factory.
None of us had been there for about a year, and found ourselves shocked at the transformation. The postindustrial space now feels exactly like a more self-contained version of Miami’s Wynwood. There’s a bougie pizza joint, streetwear boutique, and high-end sneaker store—all wallpapered with image-appropriate “street art” and signifiers of “edgy adaptive reuse.” (At some point in the past few years, real estate developers seemed to decide unanimously that millennials liked doing basically anything in stacked shipping containers, for some inexplicable reason).
To top off the carefully curated Instagram-ready aesthetic of the shopping center, there’s even a selfie mirror built into one of the murals. The whole redevelopment feels basically ten years too late at being the wrong kind of bro-centric trendy—as if a baby boomer investor based their idea of youth culture off of the advertisements in a very old issue of VICE Magazine they found next to the toilet in their stoner nephew’s bathroom.
I’m sharing this minor tragedy as a cautionary tale—enjoy Mexico City’s real weirdness while it lasts, and as a visitor, be careful not to buy into the theme-park-ification befalling nearly every global destination city.