Being ecologically conscious has become a bit of a frowned-upon self-identification in certain circles, but I think it’s OK to admire cool, innovative, if slightly geeky, efforts in the startup environment. Right? So I’ve done a bit of googling once I heard about this eco-friendly club in London, and the results were indeed interesting. Yes, Bar Surya by the Club 4 Climate project was launched five years ago, but that’s definitely not the end of the story.
All the politics and gossip aside (like when the speaker of the Dutch Sustainable Dance Club had some reservations towards “the world’s first sustainable nightclub”), the fact remains that there are now some very decent “sustainable” nightclubs around the world at the moment. And the pledge of dedication to sustainability, which is required from some of these clubs’ visitors, isn’t stopping their popularity.
The Ones Who’ve Done It
Let’s look at the famous ones: We have London’s Surya, Rotterdam’s Watt and New York’s Greenhouse here. The world’s first sustainable club, the Watt in Rotterdam (The Netherlands), opened in 2008. The Watt was the first club ever to feature an exciting innovative dance floor which actually converts the vibrations from people’s dance moves into usable energy. If you’d like to know more about the technology behind (below?) the dance floors-turned-power plants made by Energy Floors (just take a look at their impressive portfolio), feel free to read up on piezoelectricity here!
The pretty well known Bar Surya in central London also started out in 2008, as a Club 4 Climate project. Aside from the piezoelectric dance floor, the club harvests electricity from other renewable sources – wind and solar energy. Any surplus is donated to local residents (this is much appreciated, with the current prices in the UK). The club’s message goes further by granting free entry to patrons who walk or cycle to the club, and by making everyone “sign up” for being more environmentally conscious. No one expects people to change overnight, but the idea of reminding fun-loving young individuals about the world (and rewarding effort) is very positive.
The most high-end-leaning eco-friendly club in the world is probably the Greenhouse in NYC, which is known for a tough door policy and regularly attracts numerous celebrities. With that, the club didn’t manage to avoid reputation problems: people talked about Greenhouse as “one of the most racist clubs in town”. In 2009 a $1 billion lawsuit followed an incident in which one famous writer’s guests were refused entry on apparently racist grounds. The club is, however, still running and popular: no wonder, with its brilliant Lower Manhattan location and eye-catching (gorgeous!) design… Have a look at the space here.
Running an eco-friendly club can’t be easy. Rave-hungry clubbers may not be the most focused on environmental issues. Then you have the “different” organic drinks. And in the case of Surya’s eco-pledge there is even subtle pressure to actively think about the environment on your night out… These are all unusual factors on the nightlife scene. But the technology (for storing surplus energy, for example) is developing in the environmentalists’ favour, making it cooler and less expensive, and the main social tide towards a more sustainable society also works for them. We’ll all dance green one day!