Concepts and terms in the nightlife ecosystem

As more nighttime advocates, urban planners, councils, designers, architects, students  and enthusiasts from around the world come together to support and advocate for the nighttime culture and industries and communicate with the government, the need for a common language grows. The following nighttime glossary begins to define key concepts and terms in the nightlife ecosystem, drawn from both different nighttime communities and more global contexts. 

While this list is by no means exhaustive or definitive, we hope that this glossary will inspire new ideas and pique new interests. If there are any terms you would like to add to the glossary, please send them to

24-hour economy:



Adjacent business(es):

A business(es) which may not be classified under a city’s legal definition of nightlife but is intertwined with the industry, such as late-night convenience stores, food trucks, ride-shares, etc.

Artist-patron relationship:

The social and economic relationship between artists and their fans, realised through ticket sales, streaming, mutual aid and subscriptions. (GNRP Ch4). 

Artists and Repertoire (A&R):

The pursuit and development of the hottest new artists and music trends. 





Creatives, activists, organisers and stakeholders who are actively shaping the future, redefining a culture, introducing a scene, or influencing policy and decision making in the nighttime sector. 


A popularised German term translated as “club death,” which refers to the frequent closure of club spaces in recent years due to influences such as gentrification and licensing disputes. 


The process of managing or producing something (a product, city, sector, etc.) for the primary purpose of financial gain. 

Community building:

Using nightlife as social infrastructure through which to welcome, connect and strengthen a group of people with a shared identity.

Creative (noun):

An individual employed or aspiring to produce creative work, for example in the fields of music, film, fashion, graphic design, sound or lighting design, etc. 

Creative industries:

Range of economic activities concerned with arts practices and innovation, including music, visual art, design, media, etc.

Creative Spaces(s):

Physical real-estate, usually in urban environments, which provides a place for creative industries to function and is dedicated to the development of original ideas, imagination and artistic design in any form.

Creative tourism:

Tourism whereby visitors are interested in going beyond passive sight-seeing and instead want to actively engage and participate with local culture, art, music, etc.

Cultural resilience:

Refers to a culture’s capacity to maintain and develop its identity, knowledge and practices in the face of adversity.

Cultural vibrancy:

The degree to which a city is able to offer diverse cultural celebrations, experiences and volunteer or recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. 


An individual or collective that contributes to nightlife culture by creating events and dance parties that connect people.


Do-it-yourself (DIY):

Refers to the ethos of individuals or communities who design and create alternative items, spaces or movements on their own.



Refers to the ethos of individuals or communities who design and create alternative items, spaces or movements on their own.


The opportunity and assistance a brand can give nightlife communities to execute a project where consumer reach is secondary to the main focus


The interest and involvement in a cause relevant to promoting core values of nightlife, such as inclusivity, creativity, collaboration, equity, freedom, sustainability, etc. 


Gig economy and workers:

A short-term work arrangement that tends to be project based or for specific tasks. Gig workers are not considered permanent employees and do not receive benefits. (GNRP Ch4)

Global exchange:

The sharing of knowledge, ideas and expertise through global nightlife-related networks. 


Harm-reduction mindset:

Strategies and policies designed to lessen the negative social and physical consequences associated with various behaviours, both legal and illegal, rather than attempting to regulate through prohibition (drug-use, gathering during Covid-19, sexual wellness, etc.) (GNRP Ch6) 



A core value of nightlife which seeks to ensure that nightlife is open and welcoming to all, especially those historically marginalised or underrepresented.


Life at night:

The entire scope of human-urban-natural interactions after dark.


Any council-approved permissions necessary for nightlife operation, such as the sale of alcohol, late-night operating hours, the use of outdoor space, noise levels, etc.



Small loans offered directly to creative individuals or entrepreneurs to help realise a project, product, service or event. 

Music Club:

(Music)clubs are establishments whose purpose is the operation of a venue for the regular organiSation and promotion of live musical performances by music artists and DJs who perform their own music or create their own artistic work by adapting other people’s music and, in particular, by young musicians.
They contribute to the cultural participation and existence of broad sections of the population and promote social exchange. Together with the promotion of artists and the local music scene, this takes precedence over commercial interests, in contrast to discotheques. The events offered by the (music) club represent a central component of the local cultural offering, are artistically curated, promote cultural diversity and also serve musical niches.

Rationale for definition:

Because of its cultural nature, “artists” must be the primary focus.
Artists can be musicians and singers. But also DJs can be evaluated as artists.
Because the performances of the “artists” are crucial for the cultural character of music club operations, these artistic performances must also be published in a curated event program by the operator. A common program publication for all music club operations would also be conceivable.
As part of a building permit process for a music club operation, an appropriate operating concept must be submitted by the operator.



Ensuring that policies are safe, affordable, efficient, reliable and inclusive for people who are moving, working, playing or sleeping at night. (GNRP Ch3)

Night mayor(s):

An individual(s) selected to liaise and increase collaboration between nightlife establishments, residents and local government. Other words to describe this role include night-time economy manager, nightlife czar, nocturnal delegate, nightlife advocate and night ambassador. (GNRP Ch5 and Seijas 2020)

Night worker:

Night workers are a) employees who normally work 3 hours of her / his daily working time during nighttime, at least once a month; b) employees whose working hours during nighttime, in each year, equals or exceeds 50 per cent of the total number of hours worked during the year. (Directive 2003/88/EC)


The social and creative culture traditionally expressed and experienced at night.

Nighttime community:  

The creatives, supporting workers, stakeholders and consumers who create nightlife culture together.

Nighttime economy (and workers):

Activities, businesses and workers operating specifically at night, including nightlife, hospitality and leisure as well as night shift workers, late-night transportation, retail, etc. Other words used to describe the nighttime economy include the nighttime sector, social economy, hospitality sector, and 6-to-6. 

Nighttime governance:

Independent organisations or specialised government offices responsible for managing life at night. (GNRP Ch5)

Nighttime movement:

How people travel around the city at night. (GNRP Ch3)

Nighttime office:

A team of experts dedicated to advocating for the city’s nighttime and cultural industries, in conjunction with the city’s night mayor or other similar individuals. (GNRP Ch5)



An event that is held outdoors, such as a film screening, musical performance, political demonstration, rave, etc. Free open-air events are outdoor events that are self-organised, non-profit-oriented, and feature music, art, dancing and other cultural activities. (GNRP Ch1)


Political participation:

Broad range of activities through which people develop and express their beliefs on how cities should be governed, and become involved to influence decision-making. Political participation looks differently in cities around the world and is dependent on the local context. 


An individual or collective that advertises or creates a nightlife event. 


A British term used to describe any attendee of a nightlife event.


Rave culture:

The culture of individuals and communities coming together in order to dance to electronic music mixed by a DJ. 

Right to the city at night:

The demand for urban space to be more accessible for a wider range of communities and activities that may be seen as illegitimate or unessential. This rhetoric has been mobilised by many nightlife communities to defend their urban spaces, which are threatened by influences such as urban redevelopment and gentrification (GNRP Ch3 and Hae 2012).


Safe(r) space(s):

Physical venues or communities where women, minorities and marginalised groups feel more protected and welcomed than in day-to-day life. 


The expression of a local culture or subculture, referring to behaviour, creative expression, community and industry.

Shades of night:

A temporal framework used to analyse different public activities that occur throughout the night. (GNRP Ch3 and ARUP 2015)


Strategies and policies designed to encourage the social and economic resilience and environmental protection of sectors. 


Talent development:

Programmes and efforts dedicated towards nurturing the creativity, talent and capital of nighttime artists, operators and other creatives.


Urban planning:

Urban redevelopment, licensing, zoning, gentrification and place-making of cities.


Vision statement:

A community’s values, aspirations and shared image for what they want to become in the future. (GNRP Ch5 and Ch6) 

Virtual event:

Virtual clubbing, VR experiences, or hybrid live-virtual shows, which have proliferated around the world during Covid-19. (GNRP Ch2)



A method of urban planning in which the government divides the land into different areas called zones, each of which have their own set of laws and plans that regulate the development of the zone. Use zoning describes dividing the land into different areas for different types of use, such as agricultural, residential, recreational, industrial, etc.


Communities: Lives and efforts of specific nighttime spaces, communities or neighbourhoods around the world.

Creative Industries: Range of economic activities concerned with arts practices and innovation, including music, visual art, design, media, etc. 

Grants & Funding: Public or private grants or funding geared towards the nighttime sector and its communities, artists, producers and scientists.

Health & Safety: Efforts related to ensuring the welfare and wellbeing of nighttime sector staff and patrons.

Inclusion & Equity: Celebration of diverse perspectives and people, inclusion of marginalised voices and demand for equity within the nighttime sector. 

Laws & Policies: Legislation, regulation and policies related to the nighttime economy or culture.

Nighttime Governance: Independent organisations or specialised government offices responsible for managing life at night. 

Talent Development: Programmes and efforts dedicated towards nurturing the creativity, talent and capital of nighttime artists, operators and other creatives. 

Transport & Logistics: Concerns mobility, movement and accessibility of cities after dark. 

Urban Planning: Urban redevelopment, licensing, zoning, gentrification and place-making of cities after dark. 

Nighttime Economy: Economic activity that takes place from dusk-to-dawn and includes the nightlife, hospitality and leisure industries as well as night shift workers within the city. 

Covid-19: Covid-19 impact on and responses of creative and nighttime industries around the world.

Creative Tourism: Tourism whereby visitors are interested in going beyond passive sight-seeing and instead actively engaging and participating with local culture, art, music, etc.

Nighttime Culture: Ideas, customs, traditions, social behaviour and ways of life that pertain to nighttime communities.

Data & Measurement: Role of data and scientific measurement in representing the nighttime sector and analysing its significance and evolution. 

Digital Technology & Media: Role of digital technologies and media in enhancing the nighttime sector and its communities. 

Sustainability: Encouraging social and economic resilience and environmental protection within the nighttime sector.  



  1. ARUP. 2015. “Cities Alive: Rethinking the Shades of Night.”
  2. Hae, Laam. 2012. The Gentrification of Nightlife and the Right to the City: Regulating Spaces of Social Dancing in New York. Routledge: London. 
  3.  2012. “Gentrification of nightlife and the right to the city.”
  4. Seijas, Andreina J. 2020.“Governing the Urban Night: Understanding the shifting dynamics of night-time governance in three global cities,” PhD diss., (Harvard University).