6 Questions with Lutz Leichsenring

2023 02 Leichsenring Interview © DWIH New York

The DWIH New York had the pleasure of interviewing Lutz Leichsenring, co-founder of “VibeLab”, and DWIH New York partner in the organization of a joint event during “South by Southwest” (SXSW) in Austin, TX.

To the event page!

Hello Lutz, tell us a bit about yourself and your work.

Hi. I’m Lutz, co-founder of VibeLab and based in Berlin, Germany. I’ve spent my entire career working in hospitality and connected to nightlife – starting out as a promoter, operator of a club, and managing a restaurant. In 1999 I started one of the first internet platforms covering nightlife events in Germany.  In 2009, I became the spokesperson of Clubcommission – Berlin’s network for clubs and promoters. In 2018, I co-founded VibeLab, a purpose-driven consultancy agency which advises and researches nightlife globally. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was one of the initiators of the advocacy platform nighttime.org and “United We Stream“, a global music streaming platform and donation campaign creating awareness about club culture affected by the pandemic.

2023 Lutz Vibelab

You are currently working with the DWIH New York to prepare an event during “South by Southwest” (SXSW). Can you briefly explain to our readers what makes this festival so special?

In the last 30 years, SXSW has grown into one of the most important meeting spots for music, film, and tech. During those ten days in March, the whole city of Austin is buzzing with music and tech professionals. Bars, clubs, and art venues showcase artists and discuss the industries of the future in panel discussions and workshops.

What can you share with us so far about your participation in SXSW? What can guests expect from the joint event?

The NighttimeLab x SXSW is happening in the evening of March 14th at the “German Haus”. It will be an interactive day of knowledge-sharing on the topic of building a resilient and sustainable nighttime economy.  The Lab brings together experts from Germany and the US across different industries to address key issues related to nightlife spaces and focus deeply on emerging topics and future trends. Save the date!

The annual topic of the DWIH is “Resilience in Society”. What comes to your mind regarding your field of work?

The NighttimeLab x SXSW wants to re-envision a better “normal”. We know that what works in one political or cultural context may not work in all of them. Hearing about nightlife in other communities is a starting point for cities to modify and recontextualize in service of more equitable, just, and inclusive nightlife scenes. We will focus on tools and technology for fostering local and regional talent, dealing with development displacement, and centering LatinX/BIPOC/LGBTQ voices. No one has all the answers yet—the Lab highlights various workable approaches in an ongoing, collective learning process and challenges “the way things were.”

Since the new year has just started: What are your plans (and resolutions) for 2023?

VibeLab is doing research projects in various cities including Montréal, Toronto, Nashville, and Sydney. One of our focuses this year is education. We need to find more ways to share knowledge and resources between city administrations, and with the global nightlife community. The basis for this is the Global Nightlife Manifesto which we launched last year with contributions from more than 150 people in 50 cities worldwide. Our aim is to create a safer, more resilient, and sustainable future for nightlife.

We recently saw you in New York on the panel “Berlin meets NYC: Sustainable Nightlife – Let’s talk green” at the Goethe-Institute. Great discussion, what were your main take-aways regarding the differences between the nightlife in New York and Berlin?

The event was convened to address some of the challenges that affect today’s club scene and cultural economy in both cities. In a transatlantic conversation, practitioners and representatives from political and cultural initiatives came together to discuss urgent issues surrounding the future of techno culture, nightlife, and beyond. The presented projects Clubtopia and REVERB have been inspiring examples of how initiatives within the nightlife community started to create change. But we also learned about short-term rental contracts and financial limitations of cultural venues and how that impacts long-term decision making. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we recommend watching the recording of the panel discussion on Youtube.

Thank you, Lutz, for the interview!