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Keeping the party alive


Nightlife experts from around the world tell Mirror how their respective cities do it right.

After hours constitute more than just bars and gigs for a metropolis. Nightlife authorities from around the world collected at a convention in the city, which concluded today, to discuss the various possibilities and opportunities the space offers. “There are many benefits of having a vibrant nightlife — and what it means for jobs and our economy. Also, a large part of nation-building is cultivating its soft power, that is growing our own culture,” shares restauranteur Riyaaz Amlani, the man behind the India Nightlife Convention and Awards, which is now in its second year. The ‘Night Czars’ and ‘Night Mayors’ attending the convention — some elected by their governments, others by not-for-profit organisations — share some of the trends and challenges, along with future plans of nightlife in their city.

Madrid’s crazy clubs

Iwas a clubber since I was 17, attending all the international electronica festivals” smiles Jorge Sanza, the Night Mayor of Madrid. Though not a formal position yet, Sanza is in the process of petitioning to the city council to create a nightlife commission. “I represent the small and the mid-sized venues, along with the artistes. I’m working with several organisations in the City Hall — they have confirmed that they are going to create a commission and will help us with the first international nightlife convention, which will be held next year,” shares Sanza, who used to be a club owner and a promoter, apart from being a regular contributor to the famous Spanish electronica magazine, Vicious. “In Madrid, there are 17,000 bars and clubs in the city centre, and the population of the city is only 4 million,” explains Saza.

He shares a common joke about Madrid — every street in the city has “a church, a bank, and a bar”. He is currently working on a plan with City Council on how to relocate the bars, as it becomes a nuisance for residents of the neighbourhood. “When you close a club which has been open for 20 years, such as Sala Arena, which shut a few months ago, you have to have a Plan B to relocate them, as they are important institutions,” he adds.

In Madrid, small clubs close at 3 am, and big ones at 6 am. “This means, there is a whole lot of noise during those hours, when people leave the clubs. This disturbs the residents in those neighbourhoods,” he shares, adding that a 24-hour policy, as seen in Amsterdam, might also work well in Madrid to spread the crowd around and reduce the commotion during the small hours. Another initiative of Saza’s, in order to create goodwill between the bars and residents of the neighbourhoods, is to open the bars during the week exclusively for residents. “It’s a way to give back to the community,” he adds.

Midnight in Paris

Frederic Hocquard, the Deputy Mayor of Night Time Policies, hopes to expand the nightlife culture beyond the realm of bars. “Three years ago, the subject of nightlife fascinated me, so we created this delegation in the City Hall,” shares Hocquard, who has experience in running a theatre in Paris, which he opened 10 years ago, and was famous for its midnight shows. He is currently working on three aspects of nightlife in Paris — the first one being a co-habitation between party-goers and residents.

“Ten years ago, when it became illegal to smoke inside bars and restaurants, everyone would go out to smoke, which created a lot of problems for residents of that area. This led to a need to focus our attention on nightlife in Paris.” The second aspect is transportation. “With over 600,000 people using public transport in the night — from party-goers to those working in hospitals — it is important to provide all with safe public transport, that doesn’t lead to late night traffic on the streets,” explains Hocquard, whose final concern is focusing on diversification of nightlife. “We now keep our museums and gardens open till midnight, at least during the summer. We are also trying to keep the public library open in the night, because we realised not many could visit it during the day because of their jobs,” he adds.

London: The next 24-hour global city?

The last 10 years have been very difficult for the nightlife scene in London — 50 per cent of nightclubs, 35 per cent of small music venues and 58 per cent of LGBT spaces have all shut down,” shares Amy Lame. She was selected last year by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, to be the city’s Night Czar. “We weren’t paying attention, we took for granted that London’s nightlife was vibrant,” says the TV and radio presenter, who has also been running her own nightclub — Duckie at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern — for the last 22 years. “It finally hit us with the closure of Fabric (one of the high-profile nightclubs in Farringdon, London), along with reports that the London’s nightlife was really taking a drop when it came to tourism,” adds Lame, thanking London’s mayor for his proactive approach in supporting the industry. “To have the support of Sadiq Khan, a mayor who understands the importance of nightlife, is really a huge vote of confidence to the kind of work I do.”

One of the biggest projects Lame is working on — launched in July — was to make London a global 24-hour-city. “It’s a roadmap with action points, which will happen over the year. But I’m also working on smaller initiatives. Every Friday night, I head out to different parts of London, and talk to people working in restaurants, hospitals, public transport, theatre — nightlife is not just restricted to pubs,” Lame explains. Another initiative of hers, which was greeted with much success, was to keep London’s tube open for 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. “Over the last one year, eight million such journeys were undertaken, and we received a boost of around 117 million pounds. This also means people reaching home in a safe manner, less chaos on the streets, and a drop in drunken driving,” she says.

Amsterdam’s festive spirit

Since 2012, Mirik Milan has been serving as the Night Mayor for the Dutch capital. “It is part of an independent non-profit organisation, which helps bridge the gap between municipality, bar and restaurant owners and residents of Amsterdam,” explains the former club promoter, who has been organising events and parties since he was 20.

According to Milan, Amsterdam, like many European countries, is seeing a lot of talent development during the night for the creative industries — from DJs to photographers. He believes it is important to nurture the nightlife scene, as “these events and parties can serve as business schools for young kids, where they can work together and develop their talents.”

Milan is currently working on a legislation regarding festivals, of which Amsterdam sees a total of 450 in a year. “When there is a festival every weekend, residents are definitely not going to be happy about it,” explains Milan. Instead of cutting down on the number festivals, Milan proposes investing in better sound systems. “Investing in good quality sound system means we can control the sound, and it won’t be car- ried to the residential areas. Instead of focusing on only the festival area, we measure the sound from the first row of residential homes that crop up in the vicinity, then we adjust the sound accordingly,” he shares.

Apart from working on a project called Chicks on a Mission — which revolves around the nocturnal empowerment of women by incorporating more women DJs and acts — Milan also lays emphasis on educating security guards. “Women need to feel safe, especially during the night. When they request help from bouncers, you can’t have them saying ‘Oh, you are wearing a short skirt, that’s why you are feeling unsafe’,” explains Milan. He also adds that in Amsterdam, one has to fill out a 100-question form to become a security guard, “but even if you fill out 40 of those questions, you get the security badge”.

Source: Mumbai Mirror

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