Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council member Raphael Espinal announced the first director of the new Office of Nightlife on Wednesday: service industry veteran Ariel Palitz.
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The announcement comes nearly six months after Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill to establish the office along with a 12-member advisory board. Palitz, now unofficially dubbed New York’s “Night Mayor,” will be tasked with working with venues across the five boroughs to skirt (or more efficiently adhere to) some city regulations that might otherwise force them to close. Palitz’s new role does not come with any lawmaking power, but the approved legislation says that she will “serve as a liaison to nightlife establishments in relation to city policies and procedures affecting the nightlife industry.”
The appointment is great news for struggling music venue operators across the city, especially those who are running less-than-legal DIY spaces.
"It is exciting to learn that NYC's first Nightlife Mayor is a female with a strong background in nightlife and community advocacy," Espinal said in a statement. "I believe the nightlife community will have a well-rounded voice in Palitz and the administration will have a unique perspective on nightlife issues. There is a lot of work to do and I look forward to working with Palitz as I continue advocating for the independent venues and DIY community that desperately needs the city's support to come out of the bureaucratic shadows.”
A native New Yorker, Palitz owned the now-closed Sutra Lounge in the East Village, a longtime haven for DJs and downtown dance freaks. She’s also a former member of both Manhattan’s Community Board 3 and the State Liquor Authority’s licensing committee, giving her the policy and bureaucratic chops that her new job will undoubtedly require. Since Sutra Lounge closed in 2014, Palitz has worked as a real estate agent for Tower Brokerage and as a hospitality consultant for Venue Advisors, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Unlike most political appointments, Palitz’s comes with a great deal of attention. In an era when some of the city’s most iconic music venues are either being gobbled up by conglomerates or struggling to stay afloat, the expectation of the new Night Queen will be to keep New York weird, funky and safe in the wee hours of the night.