Ever since the Middle Ages in Europe, city burghers have seen the night as a cloak under which all sorts of naughty things must be happening and have done their upmost to hurry everyone home to bed. Now while today’s elected councillors may be a little less fearing of life after dusk, they are still all too easily jostled along by lobbying locals who don’t like the sound of people leaving a bar at 02.00 and claim that all booze being served is behind an uptick in violence. Or just say that they have kids and don’t want them disturbed. And the result? From Sydney to London, Singapore to New York, you will find law after law that curtails your behaviour – and additional ones ready to be signed off.
So while we are not about to start campaigning for alfresco bacchanalian orgies (it’s a bit too chilly for that), in this issue we are saying that it’s time to find a better balance between the needs of the early-to-bed posse and the people who rather fancy a final drink at 04.00 (or a first one if they’re jetlagged and parched).
Because although the press may focus on youthful revellers, the night should be the preserve of everyone: yes, the twenty-somethings but also the fun 60-year-olds who want to hang out long after dinner has finished. Making the night available for urban fun is good for all of our liberties.
It’s also good for a city’s pockets. The night-time economy of a city can generate huge numbers of jobs, transform dilapidated quarters where no other business is willing to invest and, in turn, produce healthy tax revenues (see our business report on Montréal). Done well, pulling people into a city at night also makes streets feel safer too.
Over recent years, however, we have had too many conversations with people who have told us that their hometown is losing its clubs because city hall has restricted licences and gone for pleasant gentrification over urban grit. It’s why we asked Mirik Milan, the “night mayor” of Amsterdam, to attend our annual Quality of Life Conference back in April.
As well as knowing how to throw on some fine and colourful outfits, the night mayor also understands how to run a club and what it needs to survive. That’s why he stepped forward to negotiate the relationship between businesses that make their money after sunset and local government. Charismatic, he’s a good mayor for his people (see our film about the recent Night Mayors Summit at monocle.com).
Mirik also understands that if you are offered a job in two cities, one known for being fun and one not, then it’s easy to guess who wins out (the battle between sex, drugs and rock’n’roll and a single bed, aspirin and album of Gregorian chants is never going to be a fair fight).
In London, Monocle’s home turf, we have seen a dramatic fall in the number of clubs and live music venues. Yes, the property boom makes their spaces easy targets for developers but often it’s down to people who move to an area that looks cool and who then decide that, actually, they don’t like this cool stuff after all. Some great venues have been closed because of the complaints of thin-lipped arrivistes.
That’s why this year we have factored in the night-time vibe of every city we surveyed for our Top 25 and why we have also celebrated the people who are behind vibrant after-dark enterprises around the world. So, don’t go to bed just yet: the night is young and we know a place we can go. And after that, who knows.
Support your city’s print media – and read our report on magazine Falter.
Take heart from Madrid’s rediscovered vim and vigour: go dancing until dawn.
Step out in a slick pair of Uruguayan swimming trunks from Marané.
Visit Monocle’s sunniest new pop-up in Merano, northern Italy.
Remember that grit makes the oyster: we need cheap quarters for artists.
Step out in a pair of well-cut jeans from Blackhorse Lane Ateliers in London.
Visit Lisbon’s Corredor Verde Oriental, a 100-hectare green space set for completion later this year.
Size up a decent berth in your city that could be improved by a Viennese-style sausage joint.
See a gig at in LA’s Echo Park and soak up the excess with an after-hours bite at Brite Spot.
Hit the surf in Saint Jacques’ handsome Breton-striped wetsuit.
Wander Marconi-Alexandra in Montréal at dusk and grab a burger at Mile-Ex.
Pick up vintage-meets-Scandi-chic shades from Denmark’s Folk & Frame.
Saunter down Copenhagen’s Jaegersborggade or Rue du Nil in Paris to see how city streets can still hum after dusk.
Mull over a masterful legacy: Rome’s 1960s Olympic village. It’s a winner.
Broaden your knowledge of Honolulu and Sydney with our new travel guides.
Tune in to Monocle 24 for the toe-tapping sounds of a sunny summer (plus smart comment and analysis).
In Sydney, dive into the North City Olympic swimming pool before heading south for supper at Apollo in Potts Point.
Pay a visit to PTT’s new Katamama Hotel in Bali.
Admire the Ligurian Sea from Genoa’s historic Corso Italia boardwalk.
Invest in some new sports gear from Tracksmith and trainers from Nike.
Sample Beirut’s nightlife from a rooftop bar near the Corniche.
Take inspiration aboard the art-adorned JR East’s Genbi Shinkansen while exploring Niigata.