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Light clubbing?

Green issues rarely seem half as interesting as a night out. But what if the two were combined? Dan Hancox investigates sustainable nightlife, from recycled food to solar-powered clubs.
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Most peoples’ ideas about sustainable consumption focus on the little things in our day-to-day lives: installing energy-saving light bulbs, recycling food packaging, and so on. But what about when we leave these kind of green micro-tasks to go out for the evening? Most of us tend to abandon our environmental concerns at home with the bills and household chores. In a way this semi-green lifestyle is understandable – after all, who wants to think about the environment when they’re standing at a bar, drink in hand? – but it has to change.

Take the average nightclub or bar. Lighting set-ups and sound-systems alone require colossal amounts of power, meaning that night-clubbing is probably one of the most environmentally destructive activities there is, as this article in the UK’s Independent newspaper reports:

“An average-size club, open three nights a week, consumes 150 times the energy [of] a four-person family.”

The most challenging aspect of making nightlife sustainable is that the two ideas seem to contradict each other. “Nightlife” sounds like fun, freedom, and escapism, while “sustainability” sounds like a boring set of rules and regulations – rules which we don’t mind applying in our prosaic day-to-day lives, but which don’t crop up very often after about 7pm.

So how do you get around this problem? The trick is to make the idea of sustainable nightlife cool, and in this regard the Dutch organisation Sustainable Dance Club (SDC) are out on their own. SDC consist of two main partners, the innovative green enterprise group Enviu and their architectural partners Döll; between the two of them they are determined to spread the message that eco-clubbing is the future. Döll architect Alijd van Doorn explained in The Guardian how a bit of imagination could transform the traditional energy-guzzling nightclub, describing some of the highlights of their new mobile dancefloor:

“[we have] intelligent LED lighting systems, rainwater-flush toilets, a water purification system to turn urine into drinking water [a system developed specifically for the project], a cafe using recycled food [they use leftovers from the previous night to make vegetarian-friendly burgers and stir fries] and an electricity-generating dancefloor, whereby the more people dance, the more energy they produce." 

At another Dutch club, “Worm”, the walls are made from recycled estate agents' boards, the toilets from oil drums and the door handles from bicycle handlebars. The seats in their attached cinema are taken from disused Volkswagen Passats – and are therefore considerably more comfy than your average theatre! This sense that nothing is beyond recycling or re-use is another idea at the heart of the Sustainable Dance Club’s philosophy, but at the moment their work is all too rare.

One other beacon in the darkness is the Butterfly Social Club in Chicago in the United States. This club has been making a name for itself with an inspired range of sustainable energy resources: as well as solar energy and high-efficiency lights and amplifiers there is also a bike in the club’s front window that provides kinetic energy – assuming someone’s riding it of course. Once again recycling was integral from the outset: “we built the bar out of waste products, ultimately: mud, straw, and sand.” owner Mark Klemen explained to a local TV news crew. 

Bars made of mud? Drinking water made from urine? Bicycle-powered glitterballs? Something to think about next time you’re strutting your stuff on the dancefloor…

Dan Hancox is a London-based journalist and blogger, writing for The Guardian, New Statesman, The Word, and a variety of music

Homepage photo by Winter's glam

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匿名 | Anonymous



Gym should supply supply its energy

I cannot believe that using the running machine in gyms consumes big amount of electricity. In fact, a majority of people prefer to run with a leaning angle, we can try to generate electricity by doing fitness(such as running, cycling, padeling, and etc). Someone should pass this idea to government and promote the invention of this technology.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous



It is interesting

Yet the sustainable should be a way of life and attitude towards life, or even a kind of values, which is automatically reflected in behavior and the aspects of life.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous


的确是极好的构思! 实际上,绿色的生活方式已经接触了一些人并且传播到世界各地。在技术和成本方面,这一构思是容易实现的。响应健康的生活,同时绿化世界。

a fantastic idea

what a fantastic idea! In fact the greenness of life style has already touched some people and been spreading across the world. This idea is easy to be materilized, regarding the techinique and cost. Get a heathy life and make a green world.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous


挺有意思的文章。我从来没有想过那样的配搭。然而, 对太偏向于环保夜生活趋势的赞同, 我还是有所保留,只因为它可能脱离环境和社会责任真正的意义。譬如,这些先进的科技可能带来的是额外的开销和消费。相反的是,这样的资源(开销)可用来帮助那些需要帮忙的人们。你提出种种的问题, 关于谁已经接触了这精美的环保设计 (显然的, 是富有和追潮流的一群), 问题应该是应该何时将它融入社会各阶层人士的日常生活中。

然而 ,我猜测这只是一个开始。

Slippery slope...

Interesting article. I had never thought of that combination before.

However, I'd be wary to applaud the eco-clubbing trend too much, only because it has the potential to spiral into something that loses touch with the real meaning of environmental and social responsibility. For example, all this high-tech stuff could give way to excessive spending and consumption, when instead, those resources could be used to help those in need. And then you raise all these questions about who has access to fancy eco-design (obviously, the rich and trendy), when it should be incorporated into everyday life among all social strata.

But I guess it's a start.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous


我写了名为“滑的斜坡“的评论。只是想让其他读者们可以留意我的新博客:www.ResponsibleChina.com。 这个博客的内容是关于在中国环境的可持续性和全体的社会责任。



I wrote the comment for "Slippery slope"...

Just wanted to alert other readers to my new blog: www.ResponsibleChina.com, about environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility in China. Thanks! And keep up the great work on China Dialogue! I love this site!