There's A Meeting for That

Out of the Shadows

The role of night mayor goes back to the 1970s in the Netherlands, and is catching on globally.

Night Mayor Summit
April 22–23, 2016
De Marktkantine nightclub

As Amsterdam’s Night Mayor, Mirik Milan doesn’t wield official power. He was elected by an internet vote and a panel of Amsterdam business and bar owners to the job, which is funded jointly by the city and business owners.

But the position is a serious one: Milan works with city officials, residents, and businesses to resolve conflicts over things like noise and safety, while championing the benefits of nightlife to the culture and economy. The role of night mayor goes back to the 1970s in the Netherlands, and is catching on globally. Last year, Pittsburgh appointed the less colorfully named “nighttime economy coordinator,” and London Mayor Sadiq Khan is adding “night czar” as a paid staff position.

NEAR DARKStill, the level of international interest in this year’s first-ever Night Mayor Summit was a surprise even for Milan. “Everyone showed up early,” he said. And the number of press outlets that covered the event — 52 — “was insane.”

HOT SPOTThe summit was held on the heels of the EU Capital Mayors’ Meeting, also in Amsterdam. And while most of the agenda took place during the day, the event venue was a nightclub. “We didn’t want our convention to be in a conventional venue,” said Ella Overkleeft, project manager for the two-day program. “A night mayor is all about alternatives, [being] nonconventional, experiments, and edginess. Plus, we wanted to set the mood just right for the topics we’d be discussing.”

‘A SERIOUS PLAYGROUND’True to its tagline, “A Serious Playground,” the Night Mayor Summit mixed serious discussion between politicians and nightlife professionals on topics including public health and boosting innovation in city infrastructure with nighttime tours led by locals and visiting night mayors.


Night Shift

Keynote speakers included:

Anna Dietzsch, Brazil, architect and co-author of Manifesto da Noite (Night Manifesto)

Steven Raspa, United States, community events producer for Burning Man

Zef Hemel, the Netherlands, professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Amsterdam

Zeebra (aka Hideyuki Yokoi), Japan, hip-hop artist and night ambassador of Tokyo’s Shibuya district

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor of Convene.