Q&A with nightlife visionary, Mirik Milan

We sat down with Mirik Milan, the founder of VibeLab and cofounder of NightSchool. VibeLab is an organisation committed to research, consulting, and advocacy aimed at bolstering and safeguarding night-time culture. With a decade-long track record, VibeLab collaborates with local authorities and institutions to adeptly engage and champion the dynamic influences of nightlife. Through data-driven sustainable strategies, VibeLab spearheads transformative initiatives to enhance cities’ nighttime vitality. NightSchool is an EU-wide training programme designed to support night culture producers early in their career. The project seeks to pair nightlife visionaries spanning promoters, bookers, venue owners, to hands-on creatives with industry veterans and experts from the European culture circuit. Together, these organisations are making waves in Europe’s nightlife, set to change the lives of many for the better. 


How are you today, Mirik?

Doing great. Last week ended really well as I had the opportunity to bring 30 creatives into a conversation with the mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, discussing the challenges creative communities face in developing their talent and business. We’re forming a network to inform the mayor and collaborate with her on a regular basis to strengthen the creative scene of Amsterdam. 


Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

For us there is real honour working at a grassroots level. Helping people carve out a path for themselves and finding their identity through arts and culture is one of the most important things in life, we believe. 


Could you share some insights into your background?

I learned everything I know by doing it. As a young promoter at the age of 20 we had so many wild ideas and did crazy fun events over the years in the most unexpected places. In the early zeroes we introduced folks like Justice, Boys Noize, 2ManyDjs and Erol Alkan to the Dutch scene. We ended up doing a fancy dress electronic music festival with a capacity of 10 000 visitors each year for six years called Valtifest. Best to be compared with Bestival in the UK.   


Was there a specific moment in your life when you thought, “This is what I want to do?”  

A bit later in my career when I was installed as the night mayor of Amsterdam and had built up the organisation around it I realised how I could use my promoter problem solving skills and combine them with my ability to talk to authorities. I was always the once to do the licensing for our parties and festivals and got to know my way around city hall. With the support of many I was able to introduce 24h licenses for night clubs and venues in Amsterdam. 


What inspired you to start VibeLab?

With VibeLab we want to be on the forefront of advocating for nightlife around the world. Our goal is to preserve nighttime culture and support creatives where we can. Working together with my partner from Berlin we feel we can help creative communities find their voice and influence decision making to the greater good of nightlife around the world.  


VibeLab has been involved with a lot of amazing projects, what part do you play in the evolution of today’s industry and are there any insights you’d like to share?

At the moment there are around 100 cities that have followed the example of Amsterdam and Berlin in installing a nightlife advocacy organisation such as a Night Mayor or Club Commission. We have worked with around half of them to install the role and hope to have inspired many others. This basic understanding of the value that nightlife brings to a city is a fundamental part of the journey. Building a bridge of trust between the scene and authorities is essential in getting recognition for the social, cultural and economic impact it has on the city. It all starts with educating your counterparts, providing access to decision makers for those who haven’t priced through and creating social awareness for marginalised groups that in many ways form the foundation of music and nightlife scenes around the world. 


Could you share with us how NightSchool came into being?

NightSchool is foremost a peer to peer learning platform. Because there is no school that teaches you how to be a promoter and DEI awareness trainer or a sustainability expert. Bottom up initiatives such as an awareness academy for breaking through systemic barriers can only exist through the support of volunteers. With NightSchool we hope to bring this knowledge to the wider EU communities. Transnational exchange is crucial in developing and building out the nightlife scene in cities all around Europe. 


Who is NightSchool aimed towards and how can one apply?

Visit the website link down below to apply!


What opportunities await the successful participants?

Traveling through Europe with 15 NightSchool Alumni and getting €3k in cash for your event.


Are there any upcoming plans or developments for NightSchool that you can share with us?

After the first year the cohort will be presented online so for any aspiring night culture producer there will be a way to still get access to the knowledge shared within the training program.  


What’s on your current playlist?

A Hold on Love – Erol Alkan

Made to Stay – Mount Kimbie

Cherry Cherry – Masha Mar 

Universe – Aquarius Heaven 

Ratio – Floating Points 


Any other exciting projects that you are working on that you would like to share?

We’re currently working on the Creative Footprint study for Rotterdam. This is a nightlife impact study. 

Also check out the SIP platform if you’re an engaged participant of the hospitality industry.    


Famous Last Words?

Work hard, party harder! 


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