I pulled into the parking lot in Buckhead after a long day with Alex hunting bargains at every Cost Plus World Market in Atlanta. This one was our final stop, right in the corner of a strip mall that I suddenly remembered from my youth. “This World Market used to be the hottest nightclub in Atlanta,” I told my wife. “No way?” she said, not quite able to imagine it. “The Limelight. It started out as a disco. They had giant speakers people danced on top of, and various rooms full of debauchery, a velvet rope, and valet parking right here in front,” I said as I pulled into a parking spot in the first row. “A friend of mine told me he woke up in his car here one morning with the sun shining in his eyes, not really knowing where he was or how he got there.” “That’s pathetic,” said Alex, who was possibly learning more about me and my old friends than she wanted.
Getting out of the car, I pointed to the large Kroger next door, “and that is the Disco Kroger.” Atlantan’s are known to nickname their Kroger’s: there’s also the Cruising Kroger, Hipster Kroger, Granny Kroger, even Murder Kroger.
Back in the Limelight’s heyday, the Disco Kroger was named because it was open 24-7, so people exiting the club would pop in for snacks or smokes or condoms or whatever a sweaty, ears-still-ringing, heart-still-pumping-to-the-beat-of-the-music kid needed at 3 in the morning.
Another friend of mine’s mother used to shop there late at night. Her advice to her son: “Nothing good happens after midnight. Only drunks and lunatics are out.” I’m not sure if she was the former or latter, but she had a point.
Walking into the World Market/Limelight we heard what sounded like Turkish instrumental music. Alex said only half joking, “I was kinda’ hoping they’d be playing disco.” There was an older employee sullenly stocking shelves. “He could use a little disco,” I murmured a little loudly. The man perked up when he heard this and smiled, so I asked him: “do you remember what used to be here?” “Do I! I was a regular!” he said; “still am, I guess.”
After a few crazy stories from his Limelight days, he informed us that this was all going to be gone soon anyway to make room for new office buildings or some-such thing. “That’s a shame,” I said, taking it all in. “How about the Disco Kroger? Will it stay?” “Probably not, they have a new spot just up the road.” “And the disco ball?” (Apparently the old disco ball from the Limelight was now in the Disco Kroger.) “No idea,” he answered, “but I hope someone keeps it. Boy, if that ball could talk…” he said, shaking his head wistfully as he went back to work.
The homogenization of Atlanta continues, but hey, the memories are stayin’ alive…. I’ve got a great idea for the new owners: Make the old disco ball the center-piece of the whole new development and call the place Disco Plaza! And hire the World Market guy to be a doyenne. Now that would help keep Atlanta quirky.