Over the past year, the concept of a ‘night mayor’ has been steadily spreading across the world, to cities including Paris, Cali in Colombia, San Francisco and Zurich. The idea is inspired by Amsterdam’s Nachtburgemeester, a position first created in 2014, but which was itself a further development in a project that had been ongoing since 2002. To date, London is the biggest city in the world to appoint a Night Mayor — or Night Czar, as Amy Lamé will be known. Over the coming months, she will be holding a series of monthly ‘Night Surgeries’, which will see her heading ‘out and about across the capital in the evening, speaking directly to businesses, night-time workers, members of the public and residents to get an understanding of Londoners’ views of the night-time economy’.
Lamé beat hundreds of other applicants to secure the role and was ‘appointed based on her extensive knowledge and experience of the night-time economy’, according to City Hall. It is hoped that the work of the Night Czar can capitalise on the city’s new night tube service, safeguarding London’s music venues and nightclubs from a cocktail of pressures and threats to their survival, and increasing the economic strength of the nightlife industry — which currently contributes £26.3 billion to London’s annual GDP.
Born in New Jersey, Lamé moved to London in 1992, building a successful career in the night-time industry. As a comedian, she is well known for her one-woman shows, which include Gay Man Trapped in a Lesbian’s Body and Cum Manifesto; she was also a presenter on BBC2’s Gaytime TV, creator and host of Channel 4’s The Staying in Show, and co-founder of the Olivier award-winning Duckie, which has been hosting weekly performance club nights at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern every Saturday for 21 years. According to City Hall, Lamé has proven her experience in safeguarding London nightlife through ‘fighting for the future’ of RVT, South London’s oldest LGBT venue, which has been threatened by developers in recent years, as well as serving as Mayoress of Camden from 2010 to 2011, promoting ‘the Borough’s vibrant range of live music venues and nightclubs’ and working ‘with the local authority and a diverse mix of communities’.
In a statement, Sadiq Khan’s office said: ‘Following the closure of the world-famous nightclub Fabric and at a time when other venues across the capital are under threat, Amy will be a much-needed ambassador for the city after dark. She will champion London’s nightlife both in the UK and internationally, and will do vital work with the night-time industries, local authorities, the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London and the public to ensure London thrives as a 24-hour city.’
However, there remains a great deal of scepticism surrounding the potential ability of the new Night Czar to make a significant impact on London’s floundering nightlife scene, following the inability of Sadiq Khan himself to intervene in the recent, controversial closure of the world-famous nightclub Fabric. Londoners, no doubt, will be watching Lamé’s progress with interest.