Brooklyn Boro

Say hello to NYC’s first nightlife mayor: Ariel Palitz

March 7, 2018 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayor Bill de Blasio (center) celebrates with Councilmember Rafael Espinal in November after the mayor signed into law legislation to create an Office of Nightlife and Nightlife Advisory Board. Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor’s Office
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Move over mayor, there’s a new sheriff in town.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Rafael Espinal announced on Wednesday the appointment of Ariel Palitz as New York City’s first-ever nightlife mayor.

The New York Times, which published the news first, reported that Palitz’s initial move at the helm of the Office of Nightlife would be to hold a series of listening tours to address the concerns of residents who believe nightlife venues make neighborhoods loud, dirty and overcrowded.

“Both sides feel unheard,” Palitz, 47, told the Times. “Both sides feel that things are unfair. I think the grievances are almost the same but there haven’t been any practical real-world solutions to address them.”

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

In September, de Blasio signed into law legislation to create the Office of Nightlife and Nightlife Advisory Board at Bushwick nightclub House of Yes.

At the time, de Blasio said the Nightlife Mayor position would be “one of the coolest job titles you could ever hope to have.”

“The office will be led by someone who undoubtedly will be more popular than me and will wield tremendous power,” de Blasio said in September.

Palitz’s responsibilities will include regulating the nightlife industry, helping DIY venues stay open and creating a safer partying environment.

Palitz will be responsible for conducting outreach to nightlife establishments, acting as a liaison for venues, referring those organizations to city services, reviewing 311 complaints and holding at least one public hearing in each borough, among other duties.

The Nightlife Advisory Board will be comprised of 12 members: four to be appointed by the mayor and eight by the speaker of the City Council. They will each serve a two-year term.

Palitz is a fifth-generation New Yorker who was raised on the Upper East Side and who currently lives in the East Village, the Times reports. She was a member of Community Board 3, which encompasses the East Village, Chinatown and the Lower East Side.

Palitz has a long track record of working in nightlife. She ran the door at the shuttered Club Mars and owned a bar for 10 years in the East Village, according to the Times.

Palitz will have a salary of $130,000 and will oversee a $300,000 budget.

The Office of Nightlife will be included under the mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and will be monitored by the Committee on Consumer Affairs.

New York is now the first American city to adopt a night mayor position.

Many European metropolises have had night mayors for some time, including Amsterdam, Paris and London.

Mirik Milan, the night mayor, or “nachtburgemeester” of Amsterdam, came and spoke to club owners and nightlife professionals in May at the Williamsburg club Output.

Milan, who has held the position since 2012, has played a leading role in the introduction of 24-hour licenses for venues in the Dutch capital.

After creating an Office of Nightlife in Amsterdam, the city has seen a 25 percent reduction in crime and a 28 percent decrease in noise complaints.

Espinal, who introduced and sponsored the bill to “bring nightlife out of the bureaucratic shadows and address quality of life issues in local communities,” was elated with the hiring.

“I’m excited that we’re finally going to be able to get down to work and have named a Night Mayor,” Espinal told the Brooklyn Eagle. “In order for this office to be effective, the director of nightlife has to hit the ground running.

“I look forward to working with Ariel Palitz on supporting nightlife as a whole, but more importantly the DIY and underground spaces in Brooklyn. As chair of the Council’s Committee that will oversee this agency, I will keep a close eye on the progress of this office on supporting nightlife in Brooklyn and the city as a whole.”

Nightlife versus Gentrification

One prominent issue that Palitz will likely have to address early on is gentrification.

Councilmember Rafael Espinal. Photo courtesy of Rafael Espinal’s office

At a recent discussion at the Bushwick Starr, a community arts center in Bushwick, several influential nightlife professionals discussed subjects intimate to Brooklyn, including the effects of gentrification, the future of the nightlife industry, the challenges and perks of operating a venue in New York City and the expected benefits of the forthcoming Office of Nightlife.

The panel included Dhruv Chopra, partner at Elsewhere and PopGun Presents; Belvy Klein, co-founder of Brooklyn Bazaar in Greenpoint; Johnny Beach, Bowery Ballroom talent buyer; and Ami Spishock, co-founder of Fort William Artist Management.

Attendees acknowledged that while arts and cultural institutions are positive for communities, they also play a role in gentrification.

“There’s no good answer, other than the fact that it’s like a snake eating its tail,” Chopra said. “We are the victims and culprits of it. It seems like it’s a never-ending cycle, especially in New York City, where everything keeps getting pushed out and out and rents go up.”

“It’s a Catch 22,” added Klein. “You go in, and you’re not trying to [trigger gentrification], but our last location is now a BMW creative workspace.

“You get companies that come in, and they never would have gone there if we weren’t there. We made this empty strip viable for this multinational company, and then we get evicted.” 

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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