New website gives a glimpse into Columbia nightlife

The website provides an index of bars, nightclubs and restaurants in Columbia.
Night Life in Columbia co-founder Justin Mayfield holds up a light as party-goers pose for a photo in The Blue Fugue on Saturday night. The new social portal website posts professional photos taken at local social hotspots. Courtesy of Kyle Devlin

It happens every weekend, whether it’s taking down a record-breaking amount of shots or grinding up on a stud at the bar. It's a picturesque moment — but no one has a camera.

Shpend Ibraimi realizes that the best moments in life happen when you don't have a camera around. But, through the efforts of former student Kyle Devlin and current student Justin Mayfield, Ibraimi hopes to change that with a website called nightlifeincolumbia.com.

Drawing inspiration from similar sites in other college towns, Columbia Night Life aims to capture Columbians and MU students at their favorite bars, clubs and restaurants and combine these captured moments in one place.

"The night life is amazing here and we definitely need something to bring it together," Ibraimi said. "We're not the first people to do that, but we're the first to do it right."

Ibraimi proposed the idea to Devlin and Mayfield of a website that photographs as well as provides an index listing of bars, nightclubs, music venues and restaurants.

"It's about more than just the photography, but a fully immersive social experience, it's going to be unique but it's also going to be something that self-perpetuates," Mayfield said, who works on content, photography and writing.

Essentially, Columbia Night Life would replace the classic mass text sent out to friends inquiring about weekend events.

"Columbia is such a quickly growing town, it's such a diverse town and there's a lot to do in the nightlife, but the thing is, not everyone knows what there is to do," Mayfield said.

The site is still under construction, but Mayfield and Devlin hope to complete the project within the next couple of months. His immediate plans are to reach out to the owners and managers of local businesses to extend the site's reach to most of the scene in Columbia.

"Each of the business listings will become a portal for advertising as we become popular," Devlin said. "We're going out and shooting stuff with a lot more savvy and that's a lot trendier - that's going to get people going to the site. It then gives these businesses a chance to reach out to their primary customer base."

The difference between other nightlife compilation sites and Columbia Night Life is the site's professional design and networking opportunities, Ibraimi said.

"This isn't something that you get with a point-and-click, we actually have good color and good scene," Devlin said. "Every photographer will have a couple of representatives with them. If you're alone it's difficult to walk up, hold the light, take the photo and give the business card."

The website is connected to Facebook, allowing users to log in through their own accounts, maintain their own privacy settings and link personal information to the site.

"It's going to be the things that people would otherwise have to just guess or hear from a friend," Mayfield said. "It's going to be right there for people to see."

Columbia Night Life was born in part from Mayfield and Devlin's passion for photography. They have taken photos for weddings, corporate events, magazines, senior pictures and high fashion, Mayfield said.

"I can't imagine not doing it," Mayfield said. "You get to the point where you have done something so much, and you love something so much - what else is there?"

The duo's background in photography allows weekend partiers to get photos taken with professional setups, Mayfield said. The site will also feature photos from after-parties and photo booths. A download link for high-resolution images is $2.

"We want this to be interactive," Mayfield said. "We want there to be a lot of input from the people in Columbia. We're designing the site, but it's for the people of Columbia."

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