Sweet Dreams: a Night Mayor Manifesto with Andy Blake

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Sweet Dreams: a Night Mayor Manifesto – a new interview series quizzing respected voices about the current issues facing nightlife culture. 

Club closures, earlier licensing hours, noise complaints, luxury flats –  a situation we sadly know all too well here in London. As cultural nightlife institutions start to wither and fade into the darkness, there have been desperate calls for a ‘Night Mayor’ to be put in place to safeguard our city’s world class and vibrant music scene, just as there has been in Amsterdam and Paris to champion the nocturnal economy.

For the first edition in our new series, we talk to the brains behind World Unknown – credited by many as the brightest light in London for parties that focusses exclusively on the music, the people and their experience – rather than the DJ.

Catch Andy Blake at Dance Tunnel this evening for his debut show (just before the venue closes it’s doors [SOB]), playing from start to finish on three decks and a mixer. Tickets here

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What do you think are some of the biggest problems facing London nightlife at the moment? 

The venues closing is far from ideal but for me the main thing is the shift in focus – globally, not just in London – from the people on the dancefloor being the most important part of the equation and everything else happening in service of them and their night out, to them becoming a passive audience and wealth creation scheme for a bloke with a computer loaded with kickdrums. Of course there are still many places where this isn’t the case, you just have to make a little bit of effort or get together with some mates and do your own thing

Has there been any way you’ve tried to combat this through your own current or past endeavours in music?

I get together with some mates and we do our own thing. We put on parties, we make music and put records out and we play at other people’s clubs and parties when they ask us.

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Dan Beaumont decribed a “late night taboo” that points towards nightlife being a hinderance rather than a positive asset to London. What do you see as some of the benefits of a healthy night time culture to London? 

The idea that any group of people who are doing no harm to anyone are looked down upon by others for doing something that some self-appointed twazzock disapproves of is nonsense, especially in this day and age. It creates paranoia, resentment and all kinds of general unhappiness. Dump the hypocrisy and let people be and everything gently starts getting better in all kinds of ways.

In its current form, the role of the Night Mayor will focus on preventing the closure of clubs and bars, but there’s a lot more to a healthy nightlife culture than just bricks and morter. If you were running for Night Mayor, what would be the key points of your manifesto?

I would never run for political office of any kind. It’s a rigged game and anyone involved is either a pawn or an exploiter. I’m definitely not the latter and I sincerely hope i’m not the former either. But, hypothetically…sensible licensing hours would help massively, slinging people out into the street at 3am and acting surprised when they are a bit of a nuisance is dumb even by the standards of the dimwits in charge. Let places stay open til 6 or 7am and a lot of stuff gets easier. Wishful thinking it may be, but a mature and unhypocritical approach to the drug laws would be a huge step in the right direction. 10 years of decriminalised personal use in Portugal has improved the situation there no end and that really can’t be ignored.

Social issues surrounding nightlife are just as important as the economic and political ones – protecting those who keep it going and encouraging positive attitudes. What would you do to this end, to improve the situation?

It keeps coming back to the same thing and it’s a really simple one. If you don’t like something that someone else is donig then get your nose out of it and find something else to focus on instead of getting angry that people might possibly be having more fun than you. Let’s face it, they probably are if you’re that kind of person.

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If you gained office, who would you appoint to be in your team and why? 

The people in the team – which is most definitely not mine cos I’m not running remember – need to be people who populate the dancefloors. They know what needs to be done and people need to listen to them, not a bunch of DJs, promoters, venue owners etc with a vested interest in things being a certain way to benefit them and their little cabal. Very often it seems that there’s more politics in discoland than there are in politics, and better drugs in politics that there are in discos. Something has gone very wrong somewhere.

Assuming you’re not successful with your mayoral campaign, what figure in London nightlife would you do you think would make a worthy appointment?

People from the dancefloors need to be making the decisions not disco celebrities. All this cult of personality nonsense is ridiculous. People should stop looking to others so much and work out what to do by looking inside themselves.

What examples of positive change in other city’s have you noticed, that London could learn from? 

Berlin is the prime example I guess. It’s by no means perfect but they’ve pretty much rebuilt an entire city from bricks made of techno in not much more than 20 years. It’s not rocket science, you just need to get rid of the hypocrisy around people who like to stay up all night and go dancing and who maybe choose a different mood-altering substance to booze or fags.

And finally, if you got stuck in a lift with the current Mayor of London and had 30 seconds to pressuring him to change something about London nightlife, what would you say?

I’d shake his hand and congratulate him for the flat fare on journeys using multiple buses. Until I bump into him at a party I won’t be talking to him about nocturnal activities.

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