Deja Vu Discotheque Takes Atlantans Back into the Limelight

Posted on: Aug 5th, 2011 By:

Dancing the night away inside The Limelight.

Ask anyone who lived in Atlanta in the late 1970s or ’80s what was the city’s most notorious dance club, and they’d tell you The Limelight. Like New York’s Studio 54, it was where you dressed your most outrageous to see and be seen, that is, if the door staff deigned to allow you in. Sharks swam and tigers stalked under the dance-floor for a while. And its fame stretched far beyond Atlanta, attracting Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger and more. Located in the heart of Buckhead, it’s the reason Atlantans always will call that Kroger on Piedmont the “Disco Kroger.”

This Saturday night, some of the Limelight’s original DJs, set designers and club attendees are hoping to recapture the glittery over-the-top excitement with Deja Vu Discotheque, a one-night reunion dance party at Center Stage. The event not only promises the same over-the-top interior design and light show but also features original Limelight DJs Randy Easterling, Noel Aquirre and Aron Siegel, as well as Atlanta icon, DJ Lydia

From a Limelight brochure.

Prim and live performances by Pamela Stanley singing her ’80s hit singles such as “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” and “If Looks Could Kill.” Attendees will also get a sneak peek at the trailer for LIMELIGHT, a documentary about club founder Peter Gatien, a one-eyed Canadian entrepreneur who also created upscale discos in Miami and another incarnation of Limelight in New York. A silent auction benefits the Starlight Children’s Foundation of Georgia

To get you in the mood for some serious disco dancing, ATLRetro asked a few folks who experienced the original Limelight to share a few memories:

Scott Cloud: For those who weren’t lucky enough to experience Limelight, it is difficult to find the words to describe the magical spell that was cast over Atlanta’s nightlife. First off, there was never the guarantee you would make it past the throngs of hopefuls, waiting outside Limelight’s gilded doors. If you were one of the Chosen Ones, you would soon realize those weren’t ordinary doors you were being escorted through. They were actually portals that transported you into an alternate reality and universe constructed of glitter, glamour and a whole lot of creative energy.

When the sharks weren't swimming at Limelight, mermaids did. Photo credit: Arthur Usherson.

Everyone was a celebrity at Limelight, and you never knew who you might run into.  Andy Warhol… Grace Jones… Mick Jagger… The entire club was a VIP Room, and you were immersed in an environment never again recreated in a nightclub. You weren’t merely a guest at Limelight; you were a participant in a night-long theatrical experience. Nowhere else could you dance above a shark tank, tigers or mermaids… Or experience a blizzard one moment, and a sea of bubbles the next… It was a visual smorgasbord everywhere you looked – living art displays, human mannequins, performance art and dazzling shows. Every visit to Limelight would herald a different experience. You never knew what to expect.

Set Designer K.P. Hendry: The outrageous theme parties had never happened before, even in my imagination!” says KP, referred to then as the club’s “promotional wizard, KP de Limelight.”  Fellini would have been proud” as the scenes unfolded at the first anniversary bash over 30 years ago. “LA DOLCE VITA by way of SATYRICON sets created a glittering, glamorous and mystifying party of epic proportion,” the press noted. Bare as You Dare, Jungle Fever, Wet & Wild and Sunday T-Dances kept the club packed back in those days, Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine Party probably being the most notable. Everybody was a star at the see-and-be-seen disco of the decade. Custom costumes were provided for thousands of guests who checked not only their clothes but also their day-to-day personas at the door. Couple that with Limelight’s unprecedented

A promo for the Jungle Fever party at Limelight featuring sets by K.P. Hendry.

DJs spinning their dazzling disco beat, through a spectacular sound system with an electrifying light show and it is no wonder, everyone still loves Limelight.  The larger-than-life energetic experiences exploded every evening. It was amazing to see and feel the transformation. August 6, at Center Stage, we will honor Club Creator Peter Gatien whose brilliance brought together the dancers of the day who left their inhibitions at the door.

Deja Vu Discotheque: Limelight Revisited. Center Stage. Ages 21 and up only. Doors open at 8 p.m. for V.I.P. ticketholders ($60) and 9 p.m. for general admission ($35). Tickets are available at www.limelightatl.com.

Note: All photos courtesy of K.P. Hendry.

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Weekend Update, Aug 5-7, 2011

Posted on: Aug 5th, 2011 By:

Friday, August 5

All-time great wrestling promoter Jerry Jarrett will be at the Plaza Theatre to meet and greet, sign his recent book and introduce 7:30 p.m. screenings of MEMPHIS HEAT: THE TRUE STORY OF MEMPHIS WRASSLIN’ tonight, Saturday and Sunday. The new documentary tells the wild and wooly tale of mid-South wrestling, from the ‘50s carnival days of Sputnik Monroe and Billy Wicks to the raucous ‘70s and ‘80s with the rise of Jerry Lawler, Jimmy Hart and promoter Jarrett. Can’t make the 7:30 p.m. screening? It’s also on at 9:30 p.m. all three nights. Read an interview with Jarret by ATLRetro friend and Wrestling with Pop Culture blogger Jonathan Williams in this week’s Creative Loafing here.

Dracula's lovely brides take more than a few bites out of Jonathan Harker (Chris Love) in DRACULA:THE ROCK OPERA at 7 Stages.

Last February Atlantans had the marvelous macabre opportunity to get a sneak peek at HAUS VON DRACUL, the first act of DRACULA: THE ROCK OPERA, conceived by and starring Rob Thompson; performed by local talents such as Chris Love as Jonathan Harker and the Little Five Points Rockstar Orchestra; and featuring make-up and sets by Shane Morte of Silver Scream Spookshow fame. To refresh your memory, read ATLRetro’s feature on Love here and our review of the production at 7 Stages here. For just $15, you can support some of Atlanta’s top alternative talent in prepping this show for its world premiere next April, as well as scream to some one-of-a-kind performances tonight during Black Metal Burlesque: A Hell Raising Fundraiser at 7 Stages. A pre-party starts at 9 a.m., with show at 10 a.m. featuring performers from the show, the Little Five PointsRock Orchestra, The Chameleon Queen, body suspension by Loki Shane DeFrieceMacabre Puppets‘ Chris Brown (Scarlett’s Web) as Rotzo the Clown, and much more from body-painting to a raffle. For a scary sneak preview, check out our interview with Kool Kat of the Week actor/stuntman Justin Welborn here.

New York’s Felix and the Cats swing down to Fat Matt’s. Canadian rocker Bryan Adams takes audiences back to the ’80s in his Bare Bones Tour to Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater in Peachtree City. Rock further back to the ’70s with Revival: An Allman Brothers Experience with Lefty Williams and Benji Shanks at Vinyl at Center Stage. Catch an IMAX movie and listen to cool jazz and sexy soul by vocalist Sarah Belladae at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX.

Saturday August 6

Catch an opening reception for August and Everything After: A URBNPOP art show, a solo art show featuring the wonderfully quirky pop culture-inspired works of artist Chris Hamer at Rev Coffee (1680-B Spring Road, Smyrna, 30080) from 8 to 10 p.m. Read ATLRetro’s Kool Kat profile of Chris here.

Travel back to the late ’70s/early ’80s at Deja vu Discotheque – The Dance Party of the Decade, a reunion party for The Limelight, Atlanta’s Studio 54, at Center Stage tonight. In addition to grooving to favorite dance music of the era by original Limelight DJs, attendees will be treated to a recreation of the club’s spectacular Moving Lightshow and many other over-the-top experiences reminiscent of the legendary venue. Read our sneak preview with memories of the original Limelight from Scott Cloud and KP Hendry here. Doors open for VIPs at 8 p.m, general admission at 9 p.m., and a silent auction benefits the Starlight Children’s Foundation of Georgia. Tickets are available here.

Billie Holliday sings the blues in STRANGE FRUIT.

Explore the dark side of the South via the soundtrack of the haunting Billie Holliday song in STRANGE FRUIT, a documentary directed by Joel Katz that weaves together jazz geneaology, biography, performance footage and the history of lynching, in the latest entry in the High Museum of Art‘s Radcliffe Bailey Film SeriesTheophis “Thee” Smith, associate professor of religion at Emory, will lead a discussion following the 8 p.m. screening at the Woodruff Arts Center.

Ghost Riders Car Club headlines a very special Retro honky tonk evening at Star Bar with Anna Kramer & the Lost CauseAndy Vaughn & the Driveline, and New Orleans’ Dirty Bourbon River Show. If you missed ATLRetro’s Kool Kat interview with GRCC’s Spike Fullerton, here’s a link. It’s a trilogy of rockin’ country ’70s-inspired fun when Gasoline BrosLo Country and AM Gold invade VinylSteely Dan is at Classic Chastain. Maretta’s Dry White Toast plays funk rock at Fat Matt’s Rib ShackFelix & the Cats swing over to Northside Tavern. And of course, DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Lounge into a ’70s disco/funk inferno late into the wee hours.

Sunday August 7

Interstate plays blues “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The Earl. One of the best alternative bands with its roots in the ’80s, The Goo Goo Dolls, play with Michelle Branch at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. And ’70s rockets Steely Dan are at Classic Chastain. And don’t forget Jerry Jarrett and MEMPHIS HEAT at The Plaza! See Friday for details.

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