With about 60 years of collective experience between them, Mirik Milan,37; Lutz Leichsenring, 39; and Hideyuki Yukoi, also known as Zeebra, his hip hop name, 47, have been instrumental in shaping the night culture of their respective home turfs. The India Nightlife Convention Awards (INCA), jointly owned by the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) and Kickstart Entertainment, got Milan, the former night mayor of Amsterdam, Leichsenring of the Club Commission Berlin and Yukoi, one of the night ambassadors of Shibuya, Tokyo, to come together for their third annual awards, held in Delhi last week. The trio, met with us at Delhi’s Hotel Shangri-La. Excerpts:
Berlin, Tokyo and Amsterdam have their respective places of pride in the global night life scene. What makes these three cities tick for night crawlers?
Lutz: Berlin was always an oasis in Germany. We had the Eastern and Western part, and we kept expanding and experimenting with spaces. All the intellectuals and people with artistic tendencies who did not join the army came to Berlin. The government did not care as they had bigger problems on their hand. We have been a 24-hour city for the past 70 years, with about 30 million nightstay tourists, annually.
Mirik: Amsterdam has been the party capital of the world. We have always attracted the best talent in the world, be it the DJs or music festivals.
Zeebra: Tokyo always had the vibrancy, the technological wherewithal to support a night life, and it’s way out from Europe. But we blended Asian ethos with an acceptance for everything modern. Our nightclubs were in full swing since the time of disco in the ’70s. But yes it was all done illegally. Now with the new policy, we can come out of the shadows.
Are you familiar with the Indian night life scene? What’s your take on its non-existence?
Mirik: I visited Social in Mumbai, and I thought it was an interesting concept. And yes, I have been to Goa as well.
Lutz: My first visit to India was in 2010, and I remember there was Blue Frog, and Hard Rock Cafe. In 2015, I saw things had evolved — smaller spaces had opened up, music was more diversified. It will take a long time to be a 24-hour living space, but I think India can head there.
Zeebra: This is my first time here. I was shocked to know that regular places shut down by 12/1am. In Japan, we used to have a law that clubs and pubs will shut by 12. We changed it about two years ago.
What steps can a city take to become a thriving night life centre?
Lutz: Talent is the key. You need to enhance and enable local talent, which will attract better patrons, who are not at a club to just hook up , or get wasted.
Mirik: We need three steps to implement a night life policy: awareness, access, and education. Awareness through social media and other platforms; access to decision makers and policy advocates to explain why it’s an addition to the social-cultural and economic framework; and education is all about setting a precedent for behaviour, making night life safer and equal for all.
Safety for women remains a concern for Indian night life. Your thoughts?
Lutz: Equality on the dance floor is something we are all very concerned about. The West faces similar issues, but different concerns. Like women working within the night life space as artistes, or who are club owners, they face sexism.
Mirik: But yes, the dance floor, should be equal for all, in all aspects. Not just for women, but also the LGBTQI community. It should also not just be meant for the elite, and restricted to five-star hotels alone. We need to factor in people, who work at night or have late shifts. Where do they go to let their hair down? Should we not have inclusive spaces for all?