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Karen’s Quirky Style: In the Limelight…with a Beauty Bar chaser

BY KAREN REMPEL | Fifteen years after the final iteration of the infamous Chelsea nightclub in the deconsecrated Gothic Revival church closed, the wild energy of Limelight is still as infectious as the latest COVID variant.

The iconic New York City dance club Limelight opened at the corner of Sixth Avenue and W. 20th Street in 1983. In its ’90s heyday it was the place to hear cutting-edge techno, goth and industrial music. The scene spawned a collective of Club Kids who partied to excess, with nightly scenes, outrageous outfits, a shampoo room for getting down and bubbly, and the edgiest music and drugs.

My outfit this month is an attempt to replicate the look of a cross-dressing leopard on LSD that I think I would have constructed had I been lucky enough to go there. The club’s core coterie were called Angels, and sometimes wings sprouted from their shoulders. Other times, I’m guessing their horns were on display.

Tragedy struck in 1996, and the 2003 movie “Party Monster,” starring Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green, captured all the sordid details. If you’re interested in the history of the place under impresario Club King Peter Gatien, also check out the 2011 documentary “Limelight.” There were a few more nightclub iterations under different names before the site became part of a fitness chain.

Today, Grimaldi’s operates a coal-fired pizza store at the spot, and still proudly displays a Limelight sign on the corner. I tried the pizza a couple weeks ago and was very disappointed when it arrived limp and soggy. The instructions said to heat it up in a frying pan with a bit of water. Not happening. People order pizza to avoid cooking and dishes. And I only live eight short blocks away. Geez!

But the vibes from Limelight resonate down through the years, baked into the brownstone blocks and seeping into your soul if you get too close.

Transylvanian space aliens take over Beauty Bar. (Photo by Philip Maier)

After the photo shoot, my crew and I ended up having a very uncharacteristic six-hour daytime debauch. We wanted to go to Beauty Bar, after the great time I had there the previous weekend, but it didn’t open until 5 o’clock. Amy noticed that Coyote Ugly was open (it was resurrected at its new location at 233 E. 14th St. last June), and our party began there with margaritas and empanadas.

That was followed by champagne and manicures at Beauty Bar next door at 231 E. 14th. At $10 for a martini and manicure, this has got to be the best deal in town. This nail-friendly feature just restarted a few weeks ago after a pandemic hiatus.

After a few hours at Beauty Bar, I stumbled home, feeling like I was doing the walk of shame past my doorman, though the incredible spontaneous sequence had all happened in a single afternoon. New York City still knows how to party!

For the boozy details and more fantastic Philip Maier photos, see karensquirkystyle.nyc.

Style Notes

  • Green leopard Trixxi strapless minidress with ruffled skirt. Goodwill, 7 W. 14th St.
  • Black 5-inch patent-leather slingbacks by 2 Lips Too. Goodwill, 7 W. 14th St.
  • Pale ice-green silk scarf. Gift from a friend.
  • Sparkles. Michaels, 675 Sixth Ave.

9 Comments

  1. Mary Reinholz Mary Reinholz May 5, 2022

    Really disheartening to see a beautiful Gothic building, once an Episcopal church turned into a long-gone nightclub, desecrated again by such a demeaning image of a debauched reveler. There’s no news value here, so I don’t understand what the point is of this piece.

    • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | May 5, 2022

      Well, as far as the “news value,” it’s not really a news article per se but more of a feature/style/arts piece.

  2. Mary Reinholz Mary Reinholz May 5, 2022

    Oh please. It’s a fantasy designed to appeal to the prurient interest, the age-old sexual sell. It does not qualify as journalism.

    • Jeff Jeff May 7, 2022

      Well, since this is a style column and not a news flash, I’m not expecting an exposé on recent news events. Plus, this is a building that was merely once a church and now deconsecrated, so, it’s just a building that now stands only because another use was discovered for it to survive. Otherwise, it could have just been another Duane Reade in a modern slab building.

      This prurient interest enjoys discovering the ever undulating past of our city.

      • Karen Rempel Karen Rempel May 8, 2022

        Thanks, Jeff! I agree–one of the wonderful things about New York is that so many glorious old buildings are repurposed, preserving the beauty and craftsmanship of the past, while serving the needs of a modern population. It would be impossible to replicate many of these buildings today, as the skills are lost and the cost of labor would be prohibitive. I will continue to serve your prurient interests with joy and love!

  3. philip L maier philip L maier May 5, 2022

    Lighten up, Mary.

    • Mary Reinholz Mary Reinholz May 5, 2022

      Hard to lighten up, Phil, when this retrograde piece and semi-pornographic pics made this veteran feminist reach for a barf bag.

  4. Pat Pat May 6, 2022

    Thanks, Karen, for again contributing to our knowledge of “the Downtown arts scene’s cultural history”! I have walked by the Limelight many times (and even went there once or twice with a friend who frequented the place in its heyday) — but never thought/knew about its role in ushering in techno, goth, and Industrial music genres or about Club King Peter Gatien. Good to put these periods all in context and make them come alive.

    • Karen Rempel Karen Rempel May 8, 2022

      Thanks, Pat! You are so lucky you got to go to the Limelight! I’m glad you enjoy learning new details about the places you’ve seen and been to. I love learning about this marvellous city and illuminating a detail here and there. XX

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