Secret Project techno festival returns to a fast-changing Chinatown

The Chinatown festival Secret Project debuted in a fast-changing neighborhood in 2018.
(Ivan Meneses / Insomniac)

Last year’s debut of the Secret Project festival brought the downtown L.A. warehouse techno scene to a bigger festival stage, in a swath of Chinatown now coveted by developers and the music and nightlife industries.

The festival — produced by Factory 93, an imprint of Electric Daisy Carnival promoters Insomniac — will return to Chinatown Oct. 12-13. The lineup will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in Coachella’s Yuma Tent recently. Headliners include Four Tet, Peggy Gou, Nina Kraviz, Helena Hauff, Daniel Avery and Honey Dijon. L.A. scene staples behind parties like Far Away, Lights Down Low and Bears In Space will bring a local angle.

The fest is one example of how the neighborhood has transformed at a breakneck pace, with the Paradigm Talent Agency offices and high-end bars and restaurants like Majordomo and Apotheke moving in (the latter, a favored haunt of New York transplants, will cater to festival-goers).

Secret Project is the largest test case for the neighborhood as a new high-end nightlife hub. KCRW has thrown small festivals there in recent years, and outdoor spaces like the nearby Viaduct and even Grand Park just over the 101 Freeway have become popular locations for similar underground dance music festivals. “If a city or neighborhood is serious about attracting young creative hustlers, then these types of events need to be able to re-purpose open spaces like these,” Loren Granich, promotor for A Club Called Rhonda and a Secret Project collaborator, told the Times last year.

Techno tourism and nightlife industries have transformed cities around the world. Now they’re driving fast changes in L.A. neighborhoods as well.