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Pursuits

New York’s Most Notorious Nightclub Is Back, Minus the Drugs but With More Lawyers

Dubbed the “King of Clubs” when he ruled the scene, Peter Gatien is suing to stop a new version of his 1990s Chelsea hotspot, the Limelight.
Grace Jones, Ron Galella, and Tanya Tucker at the Limelight in NYC, on March 1, 1985.

Grace Jones, Ron Galella, and Tanya Tucker at the Limelight in NYC, on March 1, 1985.

Source: WireImage via Getty Images

For many New York club-goers in the 1980s and 1990s, the Limelight defined what it meant to be cool. Years after the place closed in 2001, its reputation still fascinates nightlife entrepreneurs. Now clashing ambitions to revive the notorious club’s brand have spawned a trademark dispute between its founder, the eye-patch-sporting Peter Gatien, and younger rivals who operate the Tao Group club chain and Dream hotels.

The Limelight opened in 1983 on the site of a deconsecrated Episcopal church, immediately ascribing it a dark credibility. Andy Warhol hosted parties there, and over the years, performers who included Prince, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Funkmaster Flex, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, and Sean “Puffy” Combs appeared inside its dimly lit confines.