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(Archive) De Nacht Club

A safe space for unsafe topics

This project was part of DDW 2021
Midzomernacht Club, juni 2021 Rotterdam Zuid — © De Nacht Club

De Nacht Club invites inhabitants and professionals to interact in more honest, intimate and daring ways, under cover of the night. De Nacht Club is a safe place for unsafe topics.

Breaking down existing scripts

During emphatic research in several Dutch neighborhoods we found that there is a large gap between what professionals are focusing on (energy transition, for instance) and what was keeping people up at night (often: safety and security). Participative practices are deemed to be a solution for this. But interactions between professionals and inhabitants often follow scripts in which inhabitants lack agency and professionals resort to a directive role, even if they don’t want to.

During DDW we will share our experience from a year and a half of experimenting with De Nacht Club. DNC breaks down expectations and makes room for new language and new connections. Using the night as inspiration we create interventions in public space, inviting inhabitants and professionals to be more honest, open and daring. DNC is a safe place for unsafe topics. ‘Members’, learn to understand, trust and find each other more easily. Professionals find out they can relate to inhabitants as equals without either emphasizing or denying their public role.

Safety often stems from unsafe behavior

Blokland & Nast (2014) argue “it is through conversations with people whom we do not know that public familiarity develops [...]” In DNC we learned that a sense of safety often stems from unsafe behavior: we learn to trust by daring to go out at night and meet strangers, like we do in Night Clubs. It is our job then, as night club owners, to maintain an atmosphere of intimacy and equality.

De Nacht Club is part of the Embassy of Safety, themed ‘Surprising Safety, New behavior to make society safer ’.

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Midzomernacht Club, juni 2021 Rotterdam Zuid — © De Nacht Club / Marjolein Vermeulen

De Nacht Club #1 Nachtbrakers, Rotterdam Zuid — © De Nacht Club / Marjolein Vermeulen