Those of us who lived through the very brief Disco era, from 1975 to the early 1980s, sometimes wonder what it was all about. Disco was a genre of dance music, with a driving bass beat amid lush background sounds, which served as soundtrack for a lifestyle of excess in seemingly everything. Whatever, there was full representation of the Disco phenomenon at a nightclub called Limelight, at a modest strip mall in Buck-head near the intersection of Piedmont and Peachtree.
Limelight, which opened in 1980, occupied the building of the staid old Harlequin Dinner Theatre, so massive renovations were needed to reach the outrageous hallmarks of a Disco mega-club. Seeking to emulate the famed Studio 54 Disco in NYC, Limelight featured expansive dancing areas, elevated DJ booths and glitz galore with 40,000 strobes with 300 rows of spinning lights.
Getting into Limelight was not easy as long lines with 3-4 hour waits often stretched out to Piedmont, and brawny bouncers used their own discretion. Upon finally entering the Disco, one saw inside the door a caged tiger. A large staircase led to an enormous dance floor, glass-topped and lighted. Underneath there were 2 sand sharks swimming. Everything was magnified in sight and sound.
Music beat in an insistent groove blasted by a 100,000 watt sound system with 6-foot speakers surrounding the dance area. Gold cages contained dancers. Celebrities such as Tom Cruise or rock and roll singers Gene Simmons of Kiss and Rick Springfield could sometimes be seen by the curious from hometowns throughout the metro. Above the entire scene was a huge glittering mirror ball.
Limelight’s heyday lasted only until about 1983 and the death of Disco, but the nightclub limped on as a rental for a few more years, with a short-lived comeback in 1989. But the Metro had finished its fling with Disco, and wistful fans later put it to rest next door, at a 24-hour Kroger where those leaving the Limelight, usu-ally dressed in the fashionable polyester of the Disco era, often ended their nights on the town. The grocery closed in 2008 and fans left a simple plaque to mark the end of an era. They used their fond name for the store: “Disco” Kroger.
–Dr. Paul Hudson