Feargus O'Sullivan is a contributing writer to CityLab, covering Europe. His writing focuses on housing, gentrification and social change, infrastructure, urban policy, and national cultures. He has previously contributed to The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, and Next City, among other publications.
Amsterdam’s Mirik Milan was the original “night mayor.” He talks to CityLab about how other cities can treat the night more like the day, and the principles of a sustainable party.
When reports of Amsterdam’s Night Mayor started filtering into the international media, few could have imagined the concept would take off around the world with such speed. While the Dutch capital was not the first city to have an independent body or NGO working with the actual mayor to make sure its night hours run smoothly, Amsterdam has nonetheless been at the forefront of spreading the concept. Now a host of other cities, including London and New York, have adopted something similar and Amsterdam’s example is being widely celebrated as a healthy template for cultivating a harmonious nighttime atmosphere for citizens—whether asleep or awake.
For many cities, the idea of creating a special city office or partner NGO to cover areas that already fall under other existing officials’ jurisdiction still requires a leap of faith. Amsterdam Night Mayor Mirik Milan made his case for more night managers in a conversation at Citylab 2017 in Paris.
“The night is often treated differently than the day,” Milan told CityLab in an interview. “When there's a problem the first reaction of city officials is to say, ‘hey we have to stop this now,’ instead of bringing people together and saying we have to come up with a solution that actually works or at least makes the city a little bit better.”
Milan applies environmental principles to developing sustainable party life. “If you cut down some trees you have to replant them somewhere else,” he said. “Nightlife is really dynamic. So it doesn't matter if a night club closes after five or six years, but you need to make sure that you can open up a venue somewhere else.”
We also discussed how everyday issue such as gentrification and displacement have ramifications for night-time activity and what a night mayor’s work can deliver even to people who dread the idea of stepping inside a nightclub.
Watch the video below: