Night mayors' advice to Collboni: 'Nothing is solved with fines'

Nightlife experience, knowledge, and negotiating skills key to new role in Barcelona

Somorrostro beach in Barcelona at night
Somorrostro beach in Barcelona at night / Catalan News
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

January 29, 2024 01:38 PM

January 29, 2024 02:00 PM

In January, the mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Collboni, announced his intention to appoint a night mayor, whose main role would be to coordinate nighttime cultural activities in the city.

The inspiration, Collboni said, came from other major cities such as New York and London, which will also be the model for Barcelona’s new night mayor.  

In an interview with the Catalan News Agency (ACN), the night mayors of New York City, Amsterdam, and London offered some advice for Collboni.

First, the new night mayor should have experience with nightlife establishments, be willing to engage in dialogue, and have negotiating skills, said the three mayors, who all consider themselves night owls.

Amsterdam’s current night mayor, Freek Wallagh, was 15 years old when he started working in the famous Amsterdam neighborhood, the Red Light District, where he was in contact with sex workers, waiters, dancers, and singers, until he started organizing his own events and shows as a poet.

London’s night mayor, Amy Lamé, ran a famous nightclub in the city for 27 years and was involved in the LGBTIQ+ movement, and the New York City night mayor, Ariel Palitz, had a bar in Manhattan.

Meeting point

For the three mayors, the night mayor's office is a meeting point for all the “night creatures”, the city council, and neighbors.

 “It’s not just about sex and rock and roll, but about how our communities can come together,” Wallegh told ACN. 

The job will involve long working hours, with administrative work during the day and going to bars, clubs, and venues at night. 

“I have one of the best jobs in London,” said Lamé, who works from 6pm to 6am.

According to Wallegh, one of the biggest challenges for a night mayor is to “try to find some reason in between the irrationality” meaning to figure out “whose complaints are valid and who is just complaining because they have too much time on their hands.”

Neighbor complaints 

One of the main complaints about the nightlife is noise, but according to Palitz, the idea of silence in the night is "not very realistic.” “Cities are 24 hours, life is 24 hours, and the night is just as important as the day,” she added.

With an active nightlife, improving communication between bars and residents is key, explained Palitz, who for years had a bar in Manhattan that received complaints from a neighbor.

“No matter how bad a venue is, no matter how loud it is, nothing can be resolved by coming in and giving inspections and tickets without coming up with solutions,” she stressed.

Tourism and vulnerable groups

When it comes to tourism, Lamé believes that a night mayor would be beneficial for Barcelona, as the city receives many tourists who also come for the nightlife.

“A night mayor” would be able to integrate your planning for tourism, hospitality, and culture,” explained Lamé.

Another big challenge and concern for the night mayors is ensuring the safety of women, people from the LGBTIQ+ community, and other communities.

Amsterdam has a program in place to make clubs and bars “safer”, and in London, over 2,500 venues have signed the Women’s Night Safety Charter, launched by Lamé in 2018, to ensure the safety of women.

Barcelona’s night mayor has not yet been appointed, but according to Jaume Collboni, the person won’t “necessarily” be a politician, but could be a well-known figure in the city’s nightlife or cultural sector.