Lutz Leichsenring, Mirik Milan, and the lifelong quest to revamp and renovate global nightlife

Industry Heroes is our new series where we highlight people and organizations that are fighting the good fight. Selfless deeds, thoughtful gestures, and inspiring movements are changing the world as we speak, and we’d like to further ignite this conversation.

Expect articles on the most exciting initiatives and projects currently happening within the events, music, and entertainment spaces because good news is important, and it doesn’t always get enough praise or exposure. It’s our way of saying “thank you” to those who are keeping our industry not only alive but thriving.


In our second edition of Industry Heroes, we would like to talk about two people who have dedicated their careers to the betterment of nightlife. For them, the word “nightlife” has become something much larger than what we might imagine without putting too much thought into it. It’s an industry and a phenomenon representing not only the club scene but also all of life after dark. Here is who Lutz Leichsenring and Mirik Milan are and what they do.

Lutz Leichsenring is an entrepreneur, consultant, keynote speaker, and nighttime economy, culture, and community activist. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on protecting creative industries. Lutz has been the spokesman and an executive board member for the Berlin Clubcommission, called “possibly the world’s most influential city nightlife advocacy group”, since 2009. A lot of his work has been focused on fighting for the rights of Berlin’s iconic underground club scene which has been estimated to bring €1.5 billion to the city each year.

Lutz and Mirik / image from Lutz’s Instagram @revolutz

Mirik, moreover, has gained worldwide recognition for founding the global Night Mayor movement. It’s a very interesting and meaningful initiative not everyone has heard of! Here’s a bit of backstory…

Night Mayor (originally Dutch: Nachtburgemeester) is a municipal title used for someone who represents and helps develop a city’s nightlife. Its earliest known use was in Rotterdam. In 2003 music collective De Nachtwacht (Dutch for “The Night Watch”) was chosen by an audience to become a group of multiple so-called Night Mayors for an initial term of 3 years.

Mirik was then elected as the capital’s Night Mayor in 2012 and his efforts have contributed significantly to the reshaping of Amsterdam’s nightlife scene into one of the most vibrant and economically robust in the world. In 2014, he co-founded the non-profit Stichting N8BM A’DAM aiming to institutionalize the title, coordinating between the city mayor, city council, and local businesses. This project popularized the concept and helped introduce similar government positions in over 30 other global cities, including New York, Paris, and London.

Mirik Milan / source unknown
But what does a Night Mayor actually do?

“What the Night Mayor does is actually city planning after dark,” says Mirik Milan.

“In Milan’s vision, cities would bring the same rigor and seriousness to solving challenges in the nighttime economy as they do during the day. “When there is a problem at night, the first reaction from cities is always to say, ‘Hey, we have to stop this now,’” Milan says, “instead of bringing all the stakeholders together, like how we would do during the day, and trying to solve it.”

So what’s the connection between Germany-born Lutz and Netherlands-born Mirik?

They have united their powers and have come together to co-found a handful of purposeful organizations! All of it with the core goal to promote and co-create a thriving life at night.

Here’s a brief look into several of their mutual projects, what they mean, and why we care. If you are in any way passionate about the nightlife sector or are working in it, we bet it will be both useful and inspiring to get informed on this. Here we go!

Vibelab

In 2018 the two entrepreneurs co-founded VibeLab. This is an organization that aims to engage, connect, inform, promote, and counsel cross-sector stakeholders to keep cities vibrant and flourishing after dark. Their aim is for VibeLab to be “a purpose-driven consultancy agency specializing in cultural vibrancy and trailblazing the largely untapped research field of life at night.”

Built on the premise that music venues are real cultural assets that have the power to enrich and improve society, VibeLab’s network helps those who are looking to make a change in their communities.

You can learn more about this on their Facebook page.

Nighttime.org

Nighttime.org, powered by VibeLab, is an online hub of international knowledge exchange, for anyone interested in the planning and protection of life after dark. They strive to provide people with the latest news, opinions, and tools around strengthening nighttime and creative cultures in cities across the world.

With this particular endeavor, Lutz and Mirik’s objective is to once again shine a light on the importance of prospering and independent nighttime communities in the broader picture of a city. The platform seeks to empower those communities with the knowledge and resources they need to become more resilient.

Check out Nighttime’s platform for yourself here.

Global Nighttime Recovery Plan

The GNRP (or The Global Nighttime Recovery Plan) is a project coming from Nighttime.org. The team has created a collaborative, practical guide for cities that are trying to figure out the best way to design and execute a safe and feasible strategy to reactivate their creative and night-time economies in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guide has been compiled by more than 130 practitioners, academics, public health experts, advocates, and industry representatives from more than 70 cities all over the world. It’s an interactive platform where people are encouraged to share frameworks, tools, and practices that could be useful in today’s ongoing situation.

“Cultural, community and economic activity at night is essential to a city’s vibrancy and productivity and supports numerous local and international industries. But the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown nighttime economies and cultures into uncertainty across the globe. In many cities, clubs, venues, and other gathering spaces will likely be the last to re-open, making nighttime cultural economies highly vulnerable. As we begin to shift from lockdown, we must re-envision how urban systems coexist with the ongoing threat of COVID-19 — and those systems must extend into the night.”

Take a deeper look into the GNRP here.

The Creative Footprint

The Creative Footprint is a non-profit initiative that maps and indexes creative space in order to measure the impact of nightlife and cultural activity on our cities. Working with local experts and researchers, they gather data about every relevant venue in a location and then calculate its Creative Footprint. The project ultimately presents music scene stakeholders, nightlife activists, and governing bodies with this powerful data in support of the ongoing battle against gentrification.

Since its founding in 2017, the organization has been conducting community-based and collaborative venue mapping in the emblematic cities of Berlin, New York, and Tokyo, tackling numerous music spaces, clubs, galleries, and other informal creative places. The vision behind this is to demonstrate and prove the value of spaces that foster talent, strengthen communities, and make our cities unique.

Dive further into what The Creative Footprint does and stands for here.

Lutz Leichsenring / source unknown

We decided to dedicate this edition of Industry Heroes to Lutz Leichsenring and Mirik Milan because of their enormous contribution to not only the exciting nightlife scene in Europe but the topic and its significance on a global level.

It’s fascinating to see new and innovative ways to approach the same issue, building connections and starting dozens of initiatives all under a shared bigger mission. Our work at Evedo is also devoted to the nightlife industry, among other things, and it feels so encouraging to see the efforts others are putting in to preserve, support, and develop this space.

The two men have launched an initiative to help cities and businesses ease into returning back to work in the context of COVID-19, have inspired major capitals to adopt the Night Mayor concept, and have spoken at tens of events sharing their knowledge and expertise with those who are keen to learn and take action. Now, more than ever, we are in need of such individuals as we are slowly going back to nightlife after the sector has suffered (and still is) a huge blow from the ongoing pandemic.

It’s an honor to be sharing with our audience about these projects and we’re excited to see what this dynamic duo does next! We’re sure to stay tuned.

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