People of the night: Why many western cities want mayors for the graveyard shift

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL October 27, 2017


A half-dozen European cities and one in Colombia in South America have night mayors. Many more are thinking of taking them on. New York, indeed. There, the functionary will be called “nightlife mayor”

Why, one might wonder, when most people are (or should be) peacefully abed at night, resting from the labours of the day.

Not so. After-hours is supposed to be like 24/7 supermarkets. Essential to a city and its residents; practical; invaluable. The Economist recently offered the following earnings from nightlife: The Netherlands’ electronic music generates $659m a year; New York’s nightlife is a $10bn industry; London’s generates $32.3bn.

To those who think there’s a whiff of the seedy about nightlife, it’s not apparently all about drug-fuelled raves. There is a suggestion that it allows the creative to get together – at night, when their day jobs are over. The Economist quotes the head of Zurich’s night council: “Nightlife is where creatives meet, where ideas get started, and is a big incubator for ideas that will spread in society in the coming years.”

That sounds exciting, except for the unavoidable question: night mayors can sleep during the day, but when do these creative night-lifers actually get to bed?