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NEXT: What's Next for Nightlife?

NEXT: What’s Next for Nightlife?

Extended reality makes its move

Watch A YouTube Recording Of This Webinar At The Bottom Of This Page

Technology is about to significantly alter our nightlife industries and how we navigate, design, and celebrate cities at night. How will XR and AI affect the human-to-human experience? How can 3D augmented reality improve nighttime urban planning? What effect will the digital world have on our sociable and real-world nighttime economy?

So. Many. Questions.

Determine how the coming wave will affect you when you watch the YouTube recording of this Dec. 5, 2023, webinar from 24HourNation.

Panelists and details below.


Merlijn Poolman
Nightmayor of Groningen and CEO/Founder of COSIMO Foundation and G2C (Gateway 2 China), Groningen, NL

Merlijn, an influential figure in the world of dance music and cultural advocacy, began his career organizing metal shows and tours. In 2011, he founded the Subsonic nightclub in Groningen, and his journey deep into dance music began. By 2018, he became the Night Mayor of Groningen, strengthening connections between government, nightclub owners, and partygoers.

Merlijn is not only the leader of the Groningen Night Council but also advises the government as a member of the Dutch Popcoalitie. He balances formal policymaking with his passion for the raw underground music culture.

His involvement in China started in 2014, and he’s visited the country ten times, facilitating cultural exchanges in the music business. In 2018, he founded Gateway to China, providing Western artists with Chinese social media accounts and content creation.

Currently, Merlijn is in the Netherlands with the COSIMO Foundation, working to secure more funding for cultural projects. COSIMO creatively utilizes tax incentives to fund projects with cultural impact, revolutionizing cultural funding.

Athena Demos
Co-founder and CEO of Big Rock Creative, Los Angeles, CA, US

Big Rock Creative (BRC) is an award-winning XR experience company, known for creating innovative experiences worldwide. They’ve received prestigious accolades, including the Producer’s Guild Award, the Aurea Award, and the Auggie Award.

Athena, with 20+ years of event production experience, transitioned to the metaverse to create BRCvr, an official virtual Burning Man Experience. She’s also been involved in social impact projects like “Breonna’s Garden” and “Pride Has No Borders,” and her philosophical approach guides creative collaboration in the metaverse.

Currently, Athena and the BRCvr team are in post-production, capturing Burning Man in 360 and 180 3D formats to deliver a new storytelling format that seamlessly integrates elements into a participatory experience.

Athena also has more than eight years of experience at Moriah Films, a two-time Academy Award-winning documentary company.

James Lee Burgess
Director and Founder of Urban XR, London, UK

Urban XR is a collaborative multi-skilled augmented reality design company. Its team’s expertise spans architecture, urban design, and game development, striking the right balance in delivering AR experiences that complement and enhance urban environments while also exciting and educating users.

A RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) architect with more than twenty years’ experience, James is also a full member of the Association of Project Managers (MAPM), a Unity Software games developer, an ambassador for the Digital Poverty Alliance, and a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).

He believes that the changing landscape of design and technology is revolutionizing the way that urban design and placemaking are created, communicated, and delivered.

Host: Randall White
Founder, 24HourNation

White is an award-winning community leader and a retired consultant.

Trained in theatre performance and communications, the first half of his professional career was as an executive for arts, education, and healthcare non-profit organizations.

The second half of his work life was as owner of a consulting group that managed community relations and constituent communications for corporations, political candidates, elected officials, and political campaigns. He also organized and produced large-scale events.

In 2016, while working for a hospitality client, White discovered the global nighttime economy movement. Inspired, he founded and served as first board president for 24HourDallas, a non-profit organization. The group continues to thrive, focusing on safety, inclusivity, and vibrancy in the nighttime economy of Dallas, Texas.

In May 2022, White launched 24HourNation. Through it, he amplifies opportunities and challenges for nighttime ecosystems in America and beyond.

24HourNation is for nighttime advocates who wish to build their knowledge, skills and contacts through podcasts, webcasts, news, and studies conducted around the world.


  • Augmented reality (AR) is when the real (or physical) world has an overlay of digital elements. Like Pokémon Go, for example, or placing a hologram in the physical world as if it were physically present.
  • Mixed reality (MR) is like a filter you might apply to a photograph or a “furniture fitting” to digitally see how that sofa might look in your living room. Something real is altered by overlaying digital content.
  • Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated environment, fooling your brain into thinking that what you are seeing in the virtual world is real. This technology is currently in use in the areas of healthcare, education, fitness and more.
  • Collectively, these digital worlds are referred to as extended reality (XR).

In addition, there is Artificial intelligence (AI). AI is a machine’s ability to perform tasks we usually associate with human time and minds. Everyday examples include using Google to search for something or running Microsoft Word’s spellcheck on a letter.


With XR and AI in various combinations, a digital nighttime experience now means you can:

  • walk through a Van Gogh painting with your family.
  • watch a hologram DJ mix music from a turntable at a dance.
  • experience a live concert while sitting “underwater.”
  • receive three-dimensional guidance on your nighttime walk through a business district.
  • generate a new song, in hundreds of different music styles, in a matter of seconds.
  • go out to a club, dance to the music you prefer, and be approached by someone who is just your type … without ever leaving home.

Oh, and one more definition (if you did not already know): IRL means “in real life.”

So … is real life dead or threatened? If not, how will XR and AI augment nightlife? We can’t wait for these presentations and conversation. Join our panel of experts along with Randall White, 24HourNation’s founder and host, for this free, one-hour webinar we are calling “Next.”


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