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Move over mayor, there’s a new sheriff in town.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Rafael Espinal announced on Wednesday the appointment of Ariel Palitz as New York City's first-ever nightlife mayor.
The New York Times, which published the news first, reported that Palitz's initial move at the helm of the Office of Nightlife would be to hold a series of listening tours to address the concerns of residents who believe nightlife venues make neighborhoods loud, dirty and overcrowded.
“Both sides feel unheard,” Palitz, 47, told the Times. “Both sides feel that things are unfair. I think the grievances are almost the same but there haven’t been any practical real-world solutions to address them.”
In September, de Blasio signed into law legislation to create the Office of Nightlife and Nightlife Advisory Board at Bushwick nightclub House of Yes.
At the time, de Blasio said the Nightlife Mayor position would be "one of the coolest job titles you could ever hope to have."
"The office will be led by someone who undoubtedly will be more popular than me and will wield tremendous power," de Blasio said in September.
Palitz’s responsibilities will include regulating the nightlife industry, helping DIY venues stay open and creating a safer partying environment.
Palitz will be responsible for conducting outreach to nightlife establishments, acting as a liaison for venues, referring those organizations to city services, reviewing 311 complaints and holding at least one public hearing in each borough, among other duties.
The Nightlife Advisory Board will be comprised of 12 members: four to be appointed by the mayor and eight by the speaker of the City Council. They will each serve a two-year term.
Palitz is a fifth-generation New Yorker who was raised on the Upper East Side and who currently lives in the East Village, the Times reports. She was a member of Community Board 3, which encompasses the East Village, Chinatown and the Lower East Side.
Palitz has a long track record of working in nightlife. She ran the door at the shuttered Club Mars and owned a bar for 10 years in the East Village, according to the Times.
Palitz will have a salary of $130,000 and will oversee a $300,000 budget.
The Office of Nightlife will be included under the mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and will be monitored by the Committee on Consumer Affairs.
New York is now the first American city to adopt a night mayor position.
Many European metropolises have had night mayors for some time, including Amsterdam, Paris and London.
Mirik Milan, the night mayor, or “nachtburgemeester” of Amsterdam, came and spoke to club owners and nightlife professionals in May at the Williamsburg club Output.
Milan, who has held the position since 2012, has played a leading role in the introduction of 24-hour licenses for venues in the Dutch capital.
After creating an Office of Nightlife in Amsterdam, the city has seen a 25 percent reduction in crime and a 28 percent decrease in noise complaints.
Espinal, who introduced and sponsored the bill to “bring nightlife out of the bureaucratic shadows and address quality of life issues in local communities,” was elated with the hiring.
"I'm excited that we're finally going to be able to get down to work and have named a Night Mayor,” Espinal told the Brooklyn Eagle. “In order for this office to be effective, the director of nightlife has to hit the ground running.
“I look forward to working with Ariel Palitz on supporting nightlife as a whole, but more importantly the DIY and underground spaces in Brooklyn. As chair of the Council's Committee that will oversee this agency, I will keep a close eye on the progress of this office on supporting nightlife in Brooklyn and the city as a whole."
Nightlife versus Gentrification
One prominent issue that Palitz will likely have to address early on is gentrification.
At a recent discussion at the Bushwick Starr, a community arts center in Bushwick, several influential nightlife professionals discussed subjects intimate to Brooklyn, including the effects of gentrification, the future of the nightlife industry, the challenges and perks of operating a venue in New York City and the expected benefits of the forthcoming Office of Nightlife.
The panel included Dhruv Chopra, partner at Elsewhere and PopGun Presents; Belvy Klein, co-founder of Brooklyn Bazaar in Greenpoint; Johnny Beach, Bowery Ballroom talent buyer; and Ami Spishock, co-founder of Fort William Artist Management.
Attendees acknowledged that while arts and cultural institutions are positive for communities, they also play a role in gentrification.
“There’s no good answer, other than the fact that it’s like a snake eating its tail,” Chopra said. “We are the victims and culprits of it. It seems like it’s a never-ending cycle, especially in New York City, where everything keeps getting pushed out and out and rents go up.”
“It’s a Catch 22,” added Klein. “You go in, and you’re not trying to [trigger gentrification], but our last location is now a BMW creative workspace.
“You get companies that come in, and they never would have gone there if we weren’t there. We made this empty strip viable for this multinational company, and then we get evicted.”
If TV shows that take place in New York City have taught us anything, it’s that there will always, always be an empty cab ready to take you to your destination the moment you raise a hand and that the night life there is insane. Broadway shows, concerts, bars, clubs, restaurants, parties. You name it, it happens in NYC at night. But who’s keeping track of it all? No one right now, but the city is looking to change that.
In September, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation following in the steps of some European cities, creating an Office of Nightlife. The commission may sound like the legal certification for Batman, but it will actually consist of a “Nightlife Mayor” and 12 appointed Nightlife Advisory Board members. The task force will work with the (day) Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment to oversee, manage daily operations and issue recommendations to night venues. The office was created in response to a number of venues closing last year.
One of the mayoral candidates, Gerard McNamee, told Your Morning that the most important task for the organization will be job creation. He hopes to create 10,000 sustainable jobs in the next 10 years in service, bartending, booking, administration and security. The basic goal: keep the NYC nightlife thriving.
The group will also function as a liaison between the municipal government, the nightlife industry and city residents to coordinate health and safety and share the concerns of business-owners and the community with the government. NYC nightlife is estimated to be a 10 billion dollar industry but the city is looking to expand on that. For comparison, London (which introduced a “night czar” in 2016) reportedly has a night economy of 34 billion.
Mayor de Blasio said that he would appoint the night mayor before the end of 2017, but still has yet to fill the position. McNamee suggested the announcement would likely come this week.
If this experiment works well to bolster the nightlife economy in NYC, we might see similar positions pop up in large Canadian cities in the next few years.
Apex Social Club and Camden Cocktail Lounge from Clique Hospitality open this spring
Two new nightlife ventures coming to the Palms now have an opening date at the resort. Clique Hospitality’s Andy Masi, along with nightlife partners Ryan Labbe and Jason “JRoc” Craig, plan to open Apex Social Club and Camden Cocktail Lounge at the resort in mid-Ma, both part of the $485 million renovation plans there.
Apex Social Club takes over the former Ghostbar space on the 56th floor, converting 8,000-square-foot room with 180-degree views into an open-air boutique nightclub. Clique plans to add “one-of-a-kind art pieces” for a “sophisticated, upscale vibe.” The cocktail menu includes new concoctions along with age-old favorites and table-side bottle service.
At the entrance to the resort, Camden Cocktail Lounge takes over the former Social space with over-the-top cocktails. “Bartenders, all of them masters of mixology in their own right, will put their own whimsical spin on beloved classics or create new favorites for guest’s right before their very eyes.” A mix of live music and deejays drives the music.
Need some place special for the next parent’s night out? Consider Hamburg.
The German city, which typically isn’t atop the list of travelers, has been named the best night out in the world in a survey of 4,100 people by hostel-booking platform Hostelworld. Hamburg got the nod for its welcoming atmosphere, excellent public transportation, the closeness of major attractions and the welcoming nature of its people. Copenhagen, Berlin, Dublin and Amsterdam rounded out the top five.
“The results of this study have been fascinating,” said Marek Mossakowski, Global Head of Brand at Hostelworld. “We know young travelers are increasingly venturing off the beaten track to uncover unique experiences, and this study demonstrates this.”
Big cities, the ones most people flock to, actually fared pretty poorly in the survey. London was 26th. Rome came in 39th. And Tokyo was 41st.
Big U.S. cities represented themselves much better than big European hotspots, though. San Francisco came in at number six on the study, as the site said it offers “every type of night out for every type of traveler.” And New York came in 10th for its wide variety of food, drink and nightlife—though the site did note it’s not a city known for its friendliness.