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'Night mayors' from New York, London, Paris and more are in Sydney to share ideas

Turns out, noise complaints are the stuff of night mayors

Alice Ellis
Written by
Alice Ellis
Sydney Editor
People standing with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.
Photography: Supplied | Night mayors, from left to right: Thierry Charlois (Paris); Amy Lame (London), Mathieu Grondin (Montreal); Martina Brunner (Vienna); Michael Rodrigues (Sydney); Ariel Palitz (New York); Andreina Seijas (Barcelona)
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Five ‘night mayors’ (hehe, say that out loud) from around the world are here in Sydney to spitball with Sydney’s very own night mayor, Michael Rodrigues and a host of other people who care about the continuous improvement of our state’s nightlife. These leaders of 24-hour economies have come all the way from New York, London, Paris, Vienna, Montreal and Barcelona. They've taken reconnaissance missions around our city to learn from venue operators, and they've all spoken at NEON Sydney, a two-day conference for after-dark thought leaders, hosted by Rodrigues at the ICC

The NEON conference has been all about sharing insights about challenges and solutions for creating buzzing and safe nighttime economies. 

Sydney's stakeholders were keen to learn from the international night mayors about what’s working in each of their cities – but the international guests also came all this way because they were eager to learn from us. (Believe it or not, the accelerations Sydney has made and is continuing to make in the nightlife space are held in high regard, globally, by thought leaders in this space.) 

“The calibre of night-time leaders at NEON is testament to Sydney’s influence in the global after-dark conversation,” says Rodrigues. 

Going out after dark in Sydney is up beyond pre-pandemic levels, and there's a lot going on to help that continue to lift. There are Nightlife Grants to develop new nighttime districts, purple party zones are being rolled out around Sydney, the new state government has committed to doubling live music venues, and now they're also lifting stadium concert caps

Although we can tend to think we have our own unique challenges here in Sydney, while other cities just buzz around the clock, the issues that face us here are the same issues that all of the after-dark leaders face. In fact, the number one issue they all hit is noise complaints. 

Leaders from around the world have found that healthy discussion with residents bothered by noise is a way to move forward. This gives the residents a chance to be heard – sometimes even over a coffee or a beer, which is the way Sydney's Inner West Council is doing it now. This also gives the council and venue operators a chance to give some background on the value of activities like live music. 

“It's incredibly important that we recognise the role that the nighttime economy plays in the success of our cities,” says Amy Lamé, a former nightclub owner come London’s night tzar (yes, that really is her actual title). “Not just that traditional nighttime economy of bars, pubs and clubs, but actually across all activity that happens at night. For example, in London, we have 1.4 million people who work at night, a lot of them working in our national health service.” 

Lamé points out that people like this need places to go after knocking off – places to eat, hang, and even get stuff done, like the shopping.

Then the rest of us just want some nocturnal fun, which thankfully does seem to be on the up. 

“Sydney's on a growth trajectory, and it's got real opportunity now to plan for its life at night and an opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive,” says Lamé. “I’m going to be taking back some ideas from Sydney and implementing them in London.”

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