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Treat dance like art and culture, says Amsterdam’s night mayor

Ramon de Lima.Photo: Lauren Comiteau

As the world’s biggest electronic music festival kicks off in Amsterdam, Lauren Comiteau sat down with the city’s night mayor to discuss the ups and downs of perhaps the world’s best job.

Amsterdam’s night mayor Ramon de Lima is on a mission. He wants the city’s nightlife to be given the same status as art and culture.

Let’s go back for a moment. Yes, this city actually has a mayor of the night. For the first time in the world, this dates back to his 2003 (although at that time it was in the form of a collective named Nightwatch after Rembrandt’s masterpiece). He’s not exactly a politician. He has no decision-making power. But as an independent player who must navigate the competing interests of politicians, promoters, and the public, he certainly lacks political skills.

as the city’s seventh nachtburge meesterAppointed after the last (elected) Mayor of the Night resigned, this 30-year-old self-proclaimed “Spokesman for the Night” is using his discretion to focus on the grassroots club scene. The talent of time is fostering the culture makers of tomorrow’s generation.

A producer and project manager by day and a former club owner, he honed his DJ skills on the Amsterdam circuit and today points to Carista, one of the city’s biggest cultural exports.

“What I am looking at is the part of the nightlife that needs help right now. Nightclubs that have their own programs and are creating but struggling because they can’t pay the rent, more There are underground initiatives that need to be recognized, artists that don’t have a home, etc. to play,” he says. “They are essential to the infrastructure of the city. Of course, I’m always here for the bars and restaurants and the more established clubs. But I have to pick my battles.”

Comprehensive and secure

De Lima sees it as her job to ensure that Amsterdam’s nightlife is a vibrant, inclusive, diverse and safe scene. Mind you, he’s not talking about drug use or fire safety. Daytime politicians deal with it. But by collaborating with them and everyone else who steps into the club’s door, De Lima makes sure everyone on his floor dances, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or dance style. We want to create an atmosphere where people feel free from discrimination.

“Of course, nightlife has its downsides, but it’s also a place for young children to host events and form identities.” , can be a safe haven for those who haven’t come out of the closet yet.So the night has great cultural, social and economic value, which the city cares about. That’s it.

large company

Nightlife is indeed big business. His 1.5 million visitors who use only Amsterdam’s night activities generate €63 million annually. This equates to his 5,000 jobs for local residents.

But in the early days of Covid, coinciding with de Lima’s tenure, when nightlife was first shut down by the country’s curfew and shutdowns, its significance became apparent to Femke Halsema, Amsterdam’s daytime mayor. rightfully noted by locals, including The positive impact of nightlife on the mental health of young people.

“They underestimated what shutting down nightlife would mean for young people, and simply closed it without any foresight or support throughout the pandemic,” said De Lima of the government’s Covid policy. increase.

‘I understand closure. The world was in a pandemic. But when everything reopened, even when Formula 1 and football matches in sold-out stadiums were allowed again, the nightlife remained closed. It was so unfair and hurtful. ”


Amsterdam’s nightlife is back, but De Lima says it’s still volatile. Finding affordable club space in the city center is just as difficult as residents (with the added burden of zoning regulations). De Lima is working on it.

He is also disappointed that more benefits were not taken advantage of to create a new and improved nightlife after nightlife reopened. ’ he says. “That could be a good thing. It feels very familiar. But what was really interesting about being on hold was thinking about how we could do better, how we could change the way we think about night culture. I don’t know if we succeeded in getting better.

But he’s trying. He mentioned the club’s ethics program, which now includes his 13 clubs around the city, including the long-established Melkweg and Troublespot club AIR. “We are training club staff, from directors to runners, how to create policies to make the dance floor more inclusive and safe. , roundtables, and conversations with club owners, visitors and experts, it took years.

What are his other great achievements?of the city night vision. with title unknown valuethis independent research paper, conducted on behalf of the city, demonstrates the value of nightlife socially, culturally and economically.

“Now it is black and white that the city of Amsterdam respects the culture of the night and wants to protect it,” says de Lima. “This is an excellent foundation for building policies that protect nightlife and create an environment in which Amsterdam nightlife can flourish.”

live music

A study found that Amsterdam’s offering of cultural facilities per 10,000 inhabitants is comparable to Berlin’s and even higher than Tokyo or New York, so it may be worth protecting.

And the best part of the city’s nighttime activities? Live music and electronic dance music. For that, Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), The world’s largest electronic music festival on Wednesdays. “It’s a new club kicking off his season,” De Lima enthuses about his five-day event.

He is there, mixing business with pleasure. “I attend conferences, network, and exchange stories with other night mayors around the world,” he says.

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https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2022/10/ramon-de-lima-amsterdams-advocate-for-the-night/ Treat dance like art and culture, says Amsterdam’s night mayor

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