A megaclub in New York City that debuted in 1983 and continued on to the mid-nineties. It was located in a converted Episcopal church at 20th St. & 6th Ave (660 6th Ave.). It was owned by Peter Gatien, who owned 3 other clubs, Palladium, USA, and Tunnel.

It peaked in popularity around 1994, as the clubkid epicenter, with Michael Alig's notorious Disco 2000 parties, and drug availability (Ecstacy, Special K). It was closed in 1996 after a series of raids brought on by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. This led to federal racketeering charges and a state suit for $1.3 million in back taxes. This was compounded by the fact that Alig was arrested for the murder of a club regular, Angel Melendez, who was reputedly a drug dealer. Due to Alig's guilty plea in the case, the government was deprived of a key witness against Gatien. As a result, Gatien was acquitted on the racketeering charges in February 1998.

Gatien attempted to re-open the Limelight. Due to his financial problems, he lost the lease on the land, but the new owner was willing to lease it to him. There was another problem -- the club could not get a liquor license because convicted criminals (from the tax evasion charges) cannot obtain a liquor license. It was reopened after a complete renovation. It has two large dance floors, a stage, and many bars. It has not bounced back to the same status it once had.

Update: The Limelight has reopened as Estate. The crowd isn't as good as it used to be, but then again, the entire club scene in NYC has changed the past few years.

Sometime in the early 1820s, Michael Faraday performed a demonstration at the Royal Institute of London where he turned an oxygen-hydrogen flame on a lump of quicklime. The light that was emitted from the lime was brilliant. How brilliant? Lt. Thomas Drummond, in the audience, applied what he had seen to his surveying techniques. In 1825, Drummond set a limelight marker on a mountaintop near Belfast. It was so bright it could be seen in Donegal county (sixty-six miles away).

By 1837, limelight lanterns were streamlined enough that they made their way into the theatre. English theaters at that time were being lit with coal gas (an exciting technological improvement over the candles and lanterns). Limelight brought the brilliance of the noon day sun into the theatre, where it could be dimmed or colored to soften it as needed. One downside (apart from the tricky business of controlling the flow of hydrogen and oxygen) was that light operators would have to replace the cylinders of lime over the course of the play. Electric lights eventually replaced the limelights. The phrase "to be in the limelight," refers to the attention one would receive as a follow spot directs this bright light on you.

Limelight also found its way onboard ships and in lighthouses, for communication; into construction, so that in the Civil War, for example, the the Union Navy could see Fort Sumter as they pounded it into rubble.

Source: Dr. John H. Lienhard, Engines of Our Ingenuity

Lime"light`, n. (Theat.)

That part of the stage upon which the limelight as cast, usually where the most important action is progressing or where the leading player or players are placed and upon which the attention of the spectators is therefore concentrated. Hence, consspicuous position before the public; as, politicians who are never happy except in the limelight.

 

© Webster 1913

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