On May 7th, the shabby former Episcopal church on 6th Avenue that housed notorious club kid headquarters Limelight will open as a mini-mall. The transformation from designer drugs to designer shoes is complete, for better or worse.-
Peter Gatien opened New York's Limelight in 1983. The place is notable for being one of the very few local venues to peak in popularity (as a disco and rock concert venue), then fade away, then enjoy an actual resurgence. That revival came thanks to Michael Alig and his coterie of snorting, rolling, costumed and face-painted club kids (including Leigh Bowery, Kenny Kenny, James St. James, Richie Rich and Amanda Lepore) who most notably kicked off the Wednesday night Disco 2000 bash, one of the zanier parties to ever hit the city.
Limelight stories abound. Alig reportedly enjoyed spiking strangers' drinks with his own piss in addition to standard issue narcotics. A diaper-clad St. James sat in a cage underneath a sign saying "Do Not Feed The Drug Child." People fed him anyway, and they weren't serving Kashi Bars. And those who'd avoided falling into a vegetative K-hole gawked at the late night hot body parties, whose winners claimed a $50 bar tab. (Weren't the early '90s quaint?)
So, what better place to open a mall? To be fair, Limelight's glow stick-encrusted coffin went six feet under years ago. Starting in '96, the NYPD honed in on the venue's rampant drug trafficking, Gatien's tax evasion (hence banishment to his native Canada) and Alig's grizzly murder of his drug dealer, Angel Melendez.
Still, despite some signs that club kids are on the ecstasy-laden comeback trail, the official rechristening shows just how corporate and sanitized the New York nocturne has become. Developer Jack Menashe tells New York's Sarah Bernard that Limelight Marketplace emphasizes independent shops, and it cannot in any way be faulted for containing a Grimaldi's outpost.
But if the ghosts of Disco 2000 (and many of its regulars were not long for this world) have their way, expect some corrupting contraband to make its way into the merchandise at the Marketplace's Silly Souls baby gift store.
Main Photo via NY Mag