Plastic Fantastic: Limelight Will Re-Open as a Maze-y Mall


There are some moments in New York gentrifiction history that can’t be attributed to Rudy Giuliani. The April 29 opening of the deconsecrated Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion (read: the site of Limelight) as a 60-vendor shopping mall is maybe one of them. Not that it isn’t necessarily an example of the de-funification of Downtown, but that Limelight closed in 2003 outlasting Giuliani’s tenure as mayor and his late crusade against ravers. He didn’t even really try to close the club even after Michael Alig brutally killed its resident drug dealer, Angel Melendez.

Before its environs were legally restricted to permit only NYU students, The Limelight in New York occupied a stretch of Sixth Avenue just south of Union Square and west of Cooper Square that was called “Ladies’ Mile.” That moniker would not dissuade gay men on a mission from heading to Limelight, Peter Gatien’s post-54 megaclub designed by Ari Bahat, which opened in November 1983. Throughout the late 80s and 90s, Limelight’s labyrinthine structure (which has been preserved, albeit beautified with $15 million), provided various dancefloors and nooks for debauchery. But in Clubland Confidential, his book about Limelight and Michael Alig, author Frank Owen makes a good point, “If there are no drugs, the vibe suffers.” Le Sportsac, Baci Gelato and the bootmaker Hunter have all signed on. Maybe we can hold out for a Duane Reade.