Today, Mayor De Blasio and City Councilmember Rafael Espinal (D-37) announced the appointment of New York’s first Senior Executive Director of the Office of Nightlife, a.k.a. The Night Mayor. The position is designed to facilitate communication and provide a point of contact between city agencies, communities, and New York’s vibrant nightlife industry.
Ariel Palitz will serve as the inaugural director, pulling in a salary of $130,000 while directing an office with a 12-person advisory board and a budget of $300,000, the Times reported. A former bar owner and veteran of both New York’s nightlife and Community Board scenes, the Manhattanite operated the East Village nightclub Sutra from 2004 to 2014, and served on Community Board 3’s State Liquor Authority and Department of Consumer Affairs Licensing Committee from 2007 to 2014.
As one of Palitz’s first acts, the 47-year old East Village resident will embark on a “listening tour” to hear from residents affected by the operation of New York’s often noisy, often raucous nightlife. “I intend to listen to all voices, identify problems, find common ground, and implement realistic solutions,” she said in a statement.
The Office of Nightlife was created last year through legislation sponsored by Councilmember Espinal, who was instrumental in repealing the “Cabaret Law” that limited public dancing in New York’s nightclubs and bars. A long-time proponent and protector of Brooklyn’s DIY scene, Espinal’s efforts are to protect the drivers of culture in the city while still minding the neighbors.
“I believe the nightlife community will have a well-rounded voice in Ariel Palitz and the administration will have a unique perspective on nightlife issues,” said Espinal in a statement, praising her “strong background in nightlife and community advocacy.”
“Nightlife is part of the spark of our city. It’s one of the few spaces where all our diversity comes together in a single room. Ariel has lived and breathed this work her whole life,” said Mayor De Blasio. “She understands the needs of live musicians, artists, business owners and residents, and she’ll help bring everybody together to foster the kind of vibrant and safe nightlife New Yorkers deserve.”
In Brooklyn, the new Night Mayor will certainly have her work cut out for her, with a slew of community issues that have been simmering for some time. Along Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, residents have been concerned about party boats—and the commotion they bring—for quite some time. The Mayor promised to move the boats for the coming season, but it remains to be seen where.
In Williamsburg’s Community Board 1, board members often complain that 90% of meeting time is taken up with liquor license applications for new bars in the neighborhood—which most neighbors are sick of. It remains to be seen what kind of influence the Night Mayor may wield in such a situation, especially when licenses are issued by the state.
“As a native New Yorker, former nightclub owner and community board member, I understand what is at stake and the challenges ahead,” said Palitz. “Nightlife will be a place for operators, employees, creators, patrons, and residents alike… With the Office of Nightlife, the best is yet to come.”