We spoke to Amy Lamé, just after she was announced as London's new – and first – Night Czar. After revealing her onstage at the 100 Club, London Mayor Sadiq Khan described Lamé's approach to the role as 'not just hitting the floor running, but hitting the floor break dancing.'
So Amy, how does it feel to have the coolest job title in the whole country?
‘Country? World! Let’s not limit this, coolest job in the universe! I’m really thrilled. It is a dream job but also a huge responsibility and I’m really looking forward to hitting the ground running and starting to have those conversations about what kind of 24-hour city we want and deserve.’
You announced a series of ‘surgeries’ across London today. What does that actually mean?
‘I’m going to visit every corner of London and open up a conversation with people in a kind of part-walkabout, part-hour’s residency in a community centre or a local pub. I will get the opportunity to speak to people who use the night time economy, people who have concerns, people who are coming back from night shifts people going out, that great intersection. And the first one will be in December!'
When you say every corner, how far out will you go?
'I think that’s really important not to be limited to Zone 1. People often just think about London’s nightlife as being about the centre of town and there are so many exciting things going on further out.'
Do you have any advice for venues facing an uncertain future?
‘A first priority is to become an asset of community value (ACV), which is quite a straightforward thing. Anyone who wants to protect their local pub or bar or venue can access information about that. It's something we’re seeing increasingly happen around London, where communities are gathering together to make those changes.’
You were instrumental in getting legendary LGBT venue Royal Vauxhall Tavern recognised as an ACV. Was that the key to saving it from developers?
'One key of our success, and the battle is still continuing, has been a collective community effort from people that care passionately about London’s nightlife. You know our LGBT spaces have been really under threat. We’ve seen the closure of loads of different venues in London but in particular LGBT venues have been hit hard.'
Do you think licensing committees have the wrong attitude to London nightlife?
‘I’m certain that licensing is very important to London’s nightlife and if we want to turn London from just having a night time economy to a truly 24-hour city then that’s something we have to look at.’
You are known for your fabulous outfits. Is there a superhero uniform to go with your new superhero-sounding title?
'Hmmm, I’ll have to have a little rummage in my dressing-up box!'