It is now time to elect Amsterdam’s new Night Mayor for the coming two years! The Night Mayor is a truly unique political and entertainment position. The first of its kind in Europe, the Mayor is an interlocutor between consumers and providers of night life entertainment, as well as Amsterdam’s creative industry, the Mayor of Amsterdam, and the city council. His wide communication web allows the Night Mayor to act as a kind of ambassador for Amsterdam. He is a point of contact for a wide range of actors, from municipalities, media, to research institutions, from and beyond The Netherlands.
Annual summer festival Valtifest took place last Saturday at NDSM-Werf in Amsterdam-Noord. The festival was a celebration of the limitless forms of identity and expression that characterize life in Amsterdam. The daring costumes worn by Valtifest’s visitors showed that when it comes to having fun, Amsterdammers are never limited by social norms and inhibitions.
Meet the Candidates
This year, three candidates will be competing for the position of Amsterdam’s Night Mayor: Mirik Milan, Kolja Verhage, and Ronald Offerman. I had a chance to speak to them about their goals and plans. Get to know your candidates in my interview, exclusive for AmsterDO!
Mirik is the current Night Mayor of Amsterdam. He has been in office since 2012. During his term as Mayor, he established the 24 hour license system, which has enabled clubs to open and close whenever they want, without need of a permit.
YB: What has been your biggest contribution to Amsterdam’s night life?
MM: We started a project in professionalizing the Night Mayor. It used to be an honorary position with no money or professional advice. For the first time, the Night Mayor can actually focus on improving Amsterdam’s night life, and giving advice to the local authorities.
YB: What do you think you will add to the city during your second term?
MM: The most important thing for the coming two years is bringing the Night Mayor position to an international level. I advised several European cities; Paris, Toulouse, and London chose their Mayors in 2013. I am now in a process of advising Berlin; I hope that the position will be established there within six months.
I want to show that if you want youth to live and work in your city while keeping it vibrant, then the Night Mayor is a good solution. The Netherlands will hold the EU presidency during the first half of 2016. I want to use this opportunity to organize the first international European Night Mayors conference. The EU supports dialogue and interconnection between cities; the EU has to support us!
Mirik stresses that he works closely with the City of Amsterdam, having close contacts with the staff of the Mayor of Amsterdam, as well as the Mayor’s office.
Kolja Verhage (28):
Kolja’s background is in political science. He currently works at Club TrouwAmsterdam, and as a party organizer. He believes that his experience with Club Trouw will make him a very good middleman between the municipality and entrepreneurs.
YB: What will be your biggest contribution to Amsterdam’s nightlife?
KV: To increase diversity; I see a lot of uniformity on the rise. There are so many festivals that feature the same kinds of artists. I want to focus on young and experimental artists, and create a platform so that they can grow.
Mirik has done a great job setting up the Night Mayor position. However, the project needs to be broadened, for night cinema, theaters and restaurants.
YB: Do you think lack of diversity is Amsterdam’s main problem?
KV: In so many clubs, you only see the white, middle class. Latinos, Blacks and Moroccans have their own parties; nightlife is very segregated. The power of Amsterdam’s nightlife is diversity, but the danger of uniformity is on the rise.
The solution to this problem lies in improved event programming. Club concepts need to be broadened; painters and performance artists should also have clubs. People from different backgrounds who are interested in these forms of art can come together, grow and create their own platforms.
Major corporations are very interested in investing in Amsterdam’s nightlife. That’s a great development; however we need to protect young and experimental artists that aren’t as interesting from a financial perspective. To ensure this, I will work closely with creative people to find clubs where they can experiment without thinking about financial gains or profit margins.
Kolja believes that Mirik has done some great things, but that he lacks the vision to take the position to the next level. If elected, he will work more broadly, rather than focusing on 24 hour permits and establishing the Night Mayor as a position.
Ronald Offerman (57):
Ronald has been involved in all levels of Amsterdam’s entertainment life. He has worked in hospitality and radio, as a poet, song maker, DJ, painter and columnist. He also founded the theater and music group The Barking Dogs, and organized many sessions and performances in smaller theaters.
YB: What kinds of projects do you propose?
RO: My aim is to return Amsterdam’s nightlife back to a wider group of partiers, who are likely to be older than today’s average festival visitors.
I am always busy, whether it is with poets, painters, or cabarets. I want to introduce their performances into Amsterdam’s night life. I want to cooperate with the fine art, gallery night, night theater, night poetry, and night concert trends in the city.
YB: What will be the main contribution you will make to Amsterdam’s nightlife?
RO: To implement an understanding that Amsterdam is for everybody! I want night life in Amsterdam to be characterized by tolerance and safety.
I also want to see that a lot of other people, especially older ones like me, come into the city. My aim is to make Amsterdam’s nightlife accessible to a much wider audience than it is today. Currently, everything in Amsterdam’s nightlife is for the young.
Ronald believes that over the years, Amsterdam has come to mirror international cities, such as New York and Paris, too much. For Ronald, Amsterdam needs to regain its unique strength.
I’ve just voted in the elections to make sure that Amsterdam serves my nightlife needs. Make sure you do too!