A Look Back At Atlanta’s Disco Scene Ahead Of ‘Limelight’ Program

A King Tut neon backdrop is illuminated inside of the Limelight.

Credit / Guy D’Alema

When disco was in its prime, Atlanta was home to one of the most in-demand, star-studded disco nightclubs of the time.

The Limelight attracted iconic celebrities, such as Tina Turner, Andy Warhol and Grace Jones, to its location in Buckhead. Back in the early 1980s, the disco club was called the “Studio 54 of the South,” according to Guy D’Alema, the club’s former house photographer.

The Buckhead Heritage Society will be remembering the impact that the Limelight made on Atlanta’s history during their upcoming program at the Sanctuary Nightclub on Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. D’Alema will be projecting images from his book “LIMELIGHT … in a sixtieth of a second” and sharing stories from back then.

“It was a gigantic entertainment complex. We had disco performers performing track dates in the club,” D’Alema said. “Just about any celebrity that came to Atlanta wanted to spend some time in the club to get a sense of what all the talk was about.”

Inside the club, neon lights illuminated the rooms while two sand sharks swam under the glass dance floor, according to D’Alema. Club exciters would bust moves on top of booming speakers. Sometimes man-made snow or confetti would rain down on partiers.

“From the time the doors opened at nine until they closed at four, it was just non-stop energy pulsing through the building,” he said. “Between the music and the lights, your senses were attacked from the time you walked in to the time you left.”

Various themed parties, like “Wet N Wild” with its 50-foot Slip N Slide and “Heat Wave” complete with hot tubs, brought people in from neighboring cities, according to D’Alema.

“On an average weekend night, there was usually an hour, hour and a half wait just to get in the club. I mean the line extended outside the building and halfway down the other side of the shopping center,” he said.

About 30 years since the Limelight in Atlanta closed, D’Alema said people still reminisce about their visits on the Facebook group, I partied (or worked) at Limelight Atlanta.

“I was shocked as anybody that what I thought was just a club that was popular in Atlanta would still have legs this many years later,” he said.

Currently, “Disco Kroger,” at 3330 Piedmont Road NE, sits next to where the Limelight was operating.