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Cotton Club
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A nightlife museum might soon open in NYC

Let's give Studio 54, Palladium and Copacabana the treatment they deserve.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

The very first report by the very first New York Office of Nightlife has landed on our desks and it looks oh-so-exciting. 

You might have forgotten that, just three years ago (we know, that feels like an eternity ago), the city set up an Office of Nightlife to help struggling music venues stay afloat. Led by Ariel Palitz, the city's first Nightlife Mayor, the office obviously ended up having to tackle much more than initially forecasted. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, struggling businesses, safety issues and more, Palitz and her team have had their hands full. And yet, they were able to deliver unmitigated successes, as highlighted in the new report.

Among the plenty of recommendations and commentary highlighted in the document, we'd like to focus on the proposal to set up an official nightlife museum.

"[The] Office of Nightlife (ONL) recommends developing an archive or cultural institution that honors and celebrates the past, present, and future of local nightlife," reads the report. "ONL hopes this institution will explore nightlife’s diverse histories of celebration, self-discovery and radical expression, and longstanding fights for freedom and social justice. Such a project could be initiated with partners in academia and the non-profit sector as an archive of memorabilia."

Given the city's celebrated nightlife culture—Studio 54! The Cotton Club! Palladium! Copacabana! Limelight! The Tunnel!—what's most surprising about the proposition is the fact that such a museum doesn't exist yet.

"Opening a dedicated nightlife museum would be a statement that nightlife deserves recognition as high culture," says Palitz. "[It] would also be a showcase for everything nightlife has and continues to contribute to our city."

But there's more: the office also recommends the city start funding efforts to soundproof clubs around town given the noise complaints that residents of all five boroughs constantly file while also changing how each complaint is actually assessed. 

Additional advice includes tips to create programs that seek to support DIY venues and events, the use of underutilized spaces as sites for cultural programming of all sorts, plus the evaluation of opportunities to expand 24-hour nightlife activity in certain locations and more.

Of course, whether the museum proposal will ultimately become a reality—and, if so, when, where and how that will happen—is yet to be seen. But we have faith. New York has a way of always delivering the sorts of cultural experiences that we don't even know we crave just yet, after all. 

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