LIMELIGHT: sublime to not as sublime

by Kevin Walsh

Most younger New Yorkers know the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion on the NW corner of 6th Avenue and West 20th Street as the Limelight Disco, one of a flock of Limelights run by impresario Peter Gatien in the 1980s and 1990s; other Limelights had been opened in Hollywood, FL; Atlanta, Chicago; and London. The club was famed for presenting techno, industrial and glam rock, and for its drug drenched ‘club kid’ culture. It operated as a disco from 1983 to the late 1990s. (In the 80s your Webmaster preferred nearby Danceteria on 21st, which presented a lot of new wave acts).

The church is actually one of the oldest buildings on 6th Avenue, laying its cornerstone in 1844, with the great Richard Upjohn the architect. After over 130 years as a church, services gave way to an Odyssey House drug rehab center, but Odyssey then sold to Gatien in 1982, who recast it as the Limelight, and drugs soon followed. Gatien has had legal trouble over the years for flouting tax and immigration laws; murder and other crimes ever-present with drugs also were a part of the Limelight scene. Gatien sold to a developer in 2001, who ran the Limelight as The Avalon for 4 years.

Today the Limelight name continues as the Limelight Marketplace, which houses a number of high-end shops.



Richard September 24, 2011 - 7:59 pm

Wasn’t this church the home of WBAI listener sponsored radio station in the late 70’s.I use to listen to WBAI back then and I remember they broadcast out of a church and I’m pretty sure this is that church.

Jamie September 29, 2011 - 5:44 pm

WBAI was located in a church on east 62nd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues during the 1970’s.

Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion @Chelsea | serenapplety April 13, 2012 - 2:04 pm

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