Simone “Pippo” Merlini - the heart and soul of Bologna’s nightlife - is the face behind many of the events that make the city’s nightclubbing experience truly unique.
He is the person who better than anyone else can narrate the places and emotions of a night spent discovering the most exciting dance floors.
Is there something in particular that can explain the liveliness of Bologna’s nightlife?
Bologna is a unique city which has always had a lot going for it - it has always greatly invested in music and culture.
I don't think there is something in particular that can explain it, but rather there is a series of factor that keep the city alive.
A lot of young people go to the city’s university and they are music-starved, curious, creative and always ready to enjoy their nights out. Then there are a few other essential factors - the past greatly influenced the city’s nightlife, “instructing” and guiding it towards a metropolitan night culture. The strong presence of the LGBT community did the rest.
Which one characteristic do you think makes Bologna so active from the point of view of youth cultures?
The size of the city is quite important - Bologna is small city where everyone knows each other and where those wanting to express themselves often have the possibility to do so. This visibility, combined with the willingness to create, makes it possible for every single idea or project to go on show and be evaluated by the community.
Bologna also offers a wide range of different venues, from the Link to the Matis. Besides their differences, what combines them?
The longing for and love for music and the desire to party intended as a celebration of life are deeply rooted in Bologna’s DNA.
We love music and, regardless of the different propositions, the intellectual freedom you breathe is a common denominator in all venues.
Is there a personal itinerary you could suggest to Bologna Welcome visitors?
I must warn you though, my tastes vary a lot...
I can start with a list of places where you can get a drink, perfect to start the evening: Ex Forno Mambo, Bravo Caffè, Stile Libero, Nu Lounge, Ruggine, Marsalino, Juke Box, Dynamo la velostazione, Mercanzie, Manicò, Il Barazzo, Spazio inDue, Casa Minghetti.
While those who really want to stay out late are spoilt for choice: Kinki, Link, Zona Roveri, Locomotiv, Red, Estragon, Sotto Tetto, Covo, Crash, TPO and Cassero in addition of course We Love Echoes (this year at Matis Club) and Private Eye, of course in an unconventional location.
But Bologna also has plenty of "underground” options -
Often, the best events are held in exclusive locations that are usually destined to for other purposes - cloisters, hidden gardens, historical terraces, roofs, public squares and ancient buildings.
Could you provide us with a list of must-see DJs in Bologna?
Bologna is a true breeding ground for DJs.
Pastaboys, Luca Trevisi, Fabrizio Maurizi, Gino Grasso, Bassa Clan and Gas made Bologna club famous on a national and international level and perform regularly in the city. But let’s not forget the younger ones, who I am particularly fond of, and who are destined to become the future protagonists of the nightclubbing scene - Monogram, Grienkho, Mattia Trani, Dj Rou, DjDee and the Homequest trio. All of them are young and are committed daily to their musical mission. If you see their names on a programme, make sure you don’t miss them!
Do you think Bologna is an international city?
It is precisely due to the fact that it is a cosmopolitan city, that Bologna is today a truly international city. It manages to experiment and please its public at the same time. A hidden balance and an alchemy of magical elements make it a place in constant evolution.
How much does appearance count in Bologna clubs?
Not very much, luckily, though of course it depends on the type of club.
In clubs, we can talk about eccentricity as freedom of expression rather than outfits that make everybody look the same.
Which is the most exciting party you have ever been to in Bologna?
I have been organising and going to parties and events for many years and it's difficult to make a choice. Of course, Private Eye events at Palazzo Isolani and Oh Cristo on the terrace of “I Portici Hotel” are among the best things I've done recently and where I’ve had the most fun.
A few weeks ago, I visited my Warehouse friends at Crash - what a great party that was!
What strikes foreign DJs the most when they play here?
The people’s warmth, spontaneity, joie-de-vivre and desire to party, characteristics that make all the difference with respect to other, more globalised, places.