My NYC Night Mayor Concession Speech
Early yesterday morning I got an email from the Mayor’s Office saying that I would not be New York City’s first Nightlife Mayor. On the day the position was announced (four months ago) I met with City Council member Rafael L Espinal and we talked about what is going wrong in nightlife (he’s nice, we also talked about how we both love The Clash).
For all of our storied arenas and ballparks: New York City sells more concert tickets than sports tickets. So why are our venues constantly closing? Why are the best people in nightlife always looking for work? To find the answer to that question I started asking more questions.
This brought me from being passing acquaintances with people in this industry to growing incredibly close with some people that I now think of as family. I spent many nights in the back room of The Beauty Bar getting an education from Michael Stewart about cabaret licensing and the trash pickup racket.
Charles Turner AKA Chuck Chillout was my eyes in the Bronx and Queens and we went to City Hall together to watch Cabaret repeal. Anya Sapozhnikova at House of YES is someone I’ve been able to call day and night, even though many of the other candidates were friends and coworkers. (“We’ve been calling the night mayor ‘Batman’ because we need a hero.”)
In that time I also became phone buddies with Amsterdam Night Mayor Mirik Milan , Lutz Leichsenring from the Berlin Club Commission and London Night Mayor Amy Lamé. Thank you also Andrew Rigie, Andrew Steinthal, Amy McCloskey, Parae Avent, Kae Burke. I heard you all cheering me on, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Since I was 20 years old my job has been defined by the people cheering. I have always taken it as my job to unite people with music. If a song resonates with something deep inside of you and the person next to you feels the same way: maybe you two have more in common than any algorithm can ever figure out.
It would have been great for all of you if the Night Mayor were somebody you already knew. But I would just like to say that nightlife has always been about the unknown, the unpredictable, the big surprise party that has brought us to where we are today. This is the city that never sleeps because so many great people are out chasing their dreams at night. Yes, we’re loud, we do things that don’t always make sense. But, how many LGBTQ+ people were out at night before they were out to their families? How were our dance floors integrated before our schools were? At night we confront things that some people find scary. But we’re also the safe place that you can go to on the way from the job you hate to the apartment you wish were just like a foot wider.
Now more than every people need a place to go and turn off their phone and forget about the outside world for a bit. I hope you’ll join me in cheering on Ariel Palitz, New York City’s first “Nightlife Mayor.” She had a lot of competition to get this senior position. (My name remains in the running for Deputy Nightlife Mayor.) NYC has more venues than LA, Chicago and Miami combined, so this is 3x the job that anyone can imagine. Tell her congrats for me, I'm also more than happy to send along my 30/60/90 day plan and she's free to steal the whole thing. If it keeps one venue from closing it will be worth it or helps one person connect to another it will be worth it.
I also hope you will support the work I’m doing now with Jenny Arredondo and Creative Footprint, an ambitious project with the Night Mayors of cities all around the world. The future begins tonight, guys. I’ll see you out there. Thank you all for your support, I heard you, I hear you, I love you.
PS Thank you for your calls and texts. Don’t cry for me, people. But thank you for giving me a chance to post this so I can tell you: I am at soundcheck right now for a gig tonight with Paul Simonen from The Clash.