London Night Czar - a poisoned chalice or a chocolate teapot?

I just Googled “What the fuck does Amy Lamé actually do”, and up popped this piece from 3 weeks ago

I think half the issue for most folk is that she just isn’t high profile enough - she should be on our screens and in the press telling everyone how rubbish it is and that there are dark forces at work. IMHO, it’s the sort of job where to be fully effective, you can’t keep a low profile and ‘just get on with things’ quietly in the background. Otherwise it just appears that you dont want to rock the boat and are happy taking your £120k salary and jetting off around the world seeing how ither cities are doing things.

The other main issue, apart from the constant threat of developers, landlords and business rates, is that i just dont think that many people go out any more. Our generation, which was arguably the last bastion of hedonism, is either retiring or dying, and the kids just aren’t there in the numbers needed to support the volume of venues there once was - which has been exacerbated by the cost of living crisis.

I am constantly amazed that she’s managed to hold the post for 8 years though.

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I think there’s much more to it than the kind of ‘going out’ clubs/parties we know. The night time economy in general is rubbish in London: friends come from Paris and there’s nowhere to have a civilised late drink because everywhere is closing at 11pm.

There’s definitely a role for a Night Czar. We absolutely need one in London and other U.K. cities. She’s just not very good, it seems.

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We’ve one in Manc and its Sascha Lord who runs the WHP.

Massive conflict of interest going on there.

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In terms of the clubs it’s the same story playing out across Europe and North America. Global economics, evolving tastes, social media and demographic change all coming together to destabilise traditional setups. No single individual or department can do anything about that and it’s time to cut the crap.

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Agreed. The times they are a changing.

Sorry? How much? £120K?? She must be laughing all the way to the bank.

if anything it’s amazing the spirit of acid house lasted as long as it did. Consider that in historical terms, most people tended to reach their 30s, become breeding factories and stop going out to dances or balls. In many ways the mods, punks and ravers became guinea pigs for a new outlook on life where yoof never actually ended. This is wholly new in social terms.

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I knew Amy a bit in a previous life and she’s a decent person with a very long history in London nightlife. I think the role is limited - in my view it’s a bauble job title that is pretty meaningless because it comes with no powers. The salary is crazy.

Ultimately though, what can she or anyone do to tackle some of these problems which are really deep seated (ageing population, changing nature of zone 1-3 population, lack of affordable rent and housing, businesses simply not being able to stay open because they aren’t making a profit, cost of living so people going out less or spending less, Covid leading to more home working, fewer young people moving to London, etc etc ). Look at the number of pubs closing - it’s not just a clubs problem. Yes there are things around business rates but isn’t the bigger problem just changing demographics in London, young people have many other options for how to spend their free time, “clubbing” as an industry being in long term decline over the last two decades, many young people seemingly less interested in staying up all night, the lack of community spaces that in the past would have been places where scenes formed and grew …

Anyway I guess what I’m saying is it’s easy to blame the Night Tsar but actually in my view the biggest problem is probably lack of affordable rent within zones 1 to 3. During my 20s and 30s in London I could afford to go out, rent a two bed flat in zone 2, get a taxi home etc on 30k salary or less. The places I used to live in Clapham Junction and Brixton and Shepherds Bush had clubs and pubs that stayed open late. Those places now are over run with well off people in their 40s and 50s or older. Almost every venue has long gone. London has become sanitised. The vibrant scenes get pushed further and further out of the centre, then those places become gentrified, we’ve all seen it happen. It’s really sad but seemingly the way it’s been for over 20 years.

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Wise words as ever @jolyon

You are right about the bigger picture. Food for thought. I’ll be more generous to our Night Czar.

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I do think she’s a chocolate teapot but I’m not sure that’s because she’s crap at the job or just that what she can do within it is so limited. It could be both!

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This is maybe a stupid question, but… What was the golden era of London clubbing/nightlife and what made it so good?

Genuine question btw, i am not being snarky.

Isn’t many people’s golden era just when they were young and had fewer or no responsibilities? Does a 19 year old kid dancing in an East London club tonight have any less fun than a 19 year old did dancing at Club UK in 1994 or Spectrum in 1988 or WAG in 1984?

Wasn’t there a quote (possibly by Farley) of going to his first Shoom after it had already been going a couple of months and someone saying to him “You’ve already missed it mate”.

And the old joke of how many ravers does it take to change a light bulb: two, one to change it and another to complain about how much better the old lightbulb was. Etc!

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Objectively speaking I reckon you could make a case for any scene from a 50 year period, pretty much from the emergence of the smokey blues band speakeasys of the mid 60s all the way through to Plastic People closing down. Depends who you ask and how old they are. Personally I would love to have witnessed post punk, the new romantic phase, and the arrival of E

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I think you’re both right that for the people involved, the golden era is whenever they were young.

Trying to assess it in other ways, from a scale point of view then the boom in club nights with acid house in late 80s/90s must class as a golden era.

And looked at from a night-time economy angle then late night licensing was a key moment - was that early 2000s?

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Regardless of your age, I’d say the true golden era can be viewed as the time when you could go out quite literally any night of the week, and there would be a plethora of events to choose from, not just in London, but in almost every town in the country.

With that in mind, im going to opt for 1988-1996

Before the superclubs began taking over completely and the network was still truly alive.

We really were very lucky to have experienced it, and it’s unlikely that level of partying will ever happen again.

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Refuse to accept that anyone who uses the term “cutting shapes” when talking about dancing should be in charge of nightlife anywhere.

I think when people talk about a golden age they can meantime anytime from the 80s up to about 2012ish (?) onwards when venues and opportunities started to diminish.

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Starting typing pretty much identical post to this (although I only moved to London in 1994)

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Yes “cutting shapes” is a sackable offence in itself :sweat_smile:

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Agreed. The golden years between niche and mainstream.

Went to my first Club in '77, admittedly it was Rotters in Stockport and I was 15, but don’t think you can underestimate the influence of online dating on the demise of many night spots. If your skint what better way to meet someone? Rather than loitering around drinking all night with the slim chance you might get a slow dance at the end of the night? Who does that now?

*felt old might delete later :wink:

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Fond memories too of the post-millennial years when forums were really influential and it was possible to meet new people at parties in ways that had never previously been done. I loved all the dedicated blogs and the DFA/Innervisions/Environ/Scando stuff that whilst derivative at times was also a lot of fun. I guess looking back it was the last hurrah.

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