VibeLab strives to change attitudes to nightlife by compiling data. Image: ShutterstockW
hile nightlife plays an important role in the cultural fabric of many cities, it is increasingly under threat from noise pollution and gentrification. The VibeLab consultancy is trying to remedy this situation by compiling data around the world. The aim is to convince public authorities to make sure the party isn't over for after-hours entertainment.
VibeLab was launched in 2018 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In August, the Dutch capital announced a series of measures designed to protect its nightlife. One of these is to find places to host nightclubs—a daunting task, given the city's rising property prices and growing gentrification.
These problems are not unique to Amsterdam. Everywhere in the world, nightlife providers face numerous difficulties in carrying out their activities. Municipalities often give in to pressure from local residents, who complain about the nuisance caused by nightclubs and other festive venues. This phenomenon has become so widespread in Germany that it has been dubbed the "clubsterben" or "death of the clubs."
VibeLab strives to change the way people think about nightlife by compiling data on the economic, tourism and cultural benefits it can generate. At the request of governmental and municipal agencies, VibeLab collects this data by interviewing locals who can shed light on the matter. "These are maybe not the highest-ranking operators, but people that really know what the scene is about: music journalists, small independent promoters, passionate people that go out often," VibeLab cofounder Mirik Milan told Billboard.
Since its creation, VibeLab has produced reports on the nightlife of numerous cities, including Toronto, Stockholm, Nashville, Tokyo and Berlin. It is currently working on a summary document on Sydney for the New South Wales government. The Australian metropolis has been striving for years to revitalize its nightlife. To this end, it has created the very official post of "night mayor," like some 40 other cities around the world (Amsterdam, London, Prague, Cali, etc.).
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Indeed, partying is much more political than it might seem. VibeLab's data shows that one in seven or eight people in major cities work in the nightlife industry, reports Billboard. But these workers are increasingly at risk of unemployment, given the speed with which nightclubs and other festive venues are going out of business. In the US, more than 25 clubs closed their doors for good in 2022, according to figures from the National Independent Venue Association, cited by Billboard.
For Mirik Milan, it is urgent for local governments to become aware of the economic and cultural stakes involved in safeguarding nightlife. "The business model of cities works against preserving nightlife culture, because the model is to develop the land. But what they’re forgetting is if they root out the reason why the land got valuable, you push creative communities further to the outskirts or just wipe it out completely. And that is very difficult to build back," he told the music magazine.