The City of London has posted the job of “Night Czar” on its website (job reference: CZAR001). No, this is not a draconian overlord responsible for making sure drinkers pick up their litter; it is someone who “will champion the value of London’s night time culture whilst developing and diversifying London’s night time economy.”
The job is 2.5 days a week, which presumably means Friday night to Monday morning.
Rising property prices and all that goes with them (aggressive real-estate developers, busybody local councils, prissy neighbors) have been squeezing London’s night-time venues out of business. The Night Time Industries Association, a body whose website features edgy graphics but atrocious copy-editing, asserts that the number of nightclubs in the UK fell from 3,144 in 2005 to 1,733 in 2015. The more staid London Music Board, packed with minor eminences from the government and the entertainment industry, says 35% of the city’s “grassroots music venues” have been lost since 2008 (or 2007, depending which page of the website you read).
In March, Boris Johnson—then still mayor of London—launched the Night Time Commission, a six-month investigation into how to save London’s nightlife. (No matter that he went on to lead the campaign for Brexit, which could undo any good he’s done for the city’s economy.) There was talk already then of creating a “night mayor” along the lines of those in cities such as Amsterdam and San Francisco, who have lobbied for such things as more relaxed opening hours. Sadiq Khan, who replaced Johnson in May, immediately promised to create such a position, though perhaps to stand apart from his blond-thatched predecessor, he called it a “night czar.”
In the wake of the Brexit referendum, the job holds even more promise. Both residential and commercial real-estate prices are suffering, and Brexit’s longer-term effects are still uncertain. A night czar would probably find a receptive ear for any proposals that offer an economic bump.
The pay is £35,000 ($46,000) a year for the half-time role, which while hardly lavish, presumably comes with the benefit of being able to get into any nightclub in London for free and at a moment’s notice. The successful applicant will have “proven leadership ability, public profile and convening power, plus a thorough understanding of the night time economy and the ability to work in a political environment.” Not mentioned, but taken for granted, are extreme stamina, decent or at least not horrible dress sense, and an ability to dance without looking like someone’s uncle at a wedding.
Applications must be in by midnight on Monday Sept. 21. Judging by the enthusiastic (or disbelieving) tweets, there are going to be a lot of them.