Atlanta Restaurant & Club Scene In The Mid-1980’s

If you’ve stumbled upon this blog entry, I’m hoping you’ll further stroll down Memory Lane with me…come along to Atlanta circa 1985. Drinking age = 18.

I was very impressionable, and very exposed to the club scene in Atlanta and parts surrounding. I have to say, I thought it was artsy without meaning to be expressly so. It just sort of happened that way. Many creative people mixed a bunch of styles together and then an original, eclectic mix of bars and restaurants just “happened”.  At my high school, there was a strong punk scene, a goth scene, an Adam Ant contingency, and plenty of drama students (myself included), so even people my age were involved in the club scene. Ah, the dynamics of a lower drinking age – it certainly changed everything!

Let’s start with the more upscale North Atlanta around Perimeter Mall (includes Sandy Springs/Dunwoody). There was a “fern bar” scene where everybody ritually gathered after work – Bennigan’s, TGIFriday’s and this one place in particular called Élan. I remember there being a line for Élan. I remember eating and drinking there often. I can’t remember the decor, but I seem to recall cosmopolitan, maybe moderne. I can’t remember if it was a club, but I remember taking a group of people there. I think the building would be somewhere like an annex to the mall – haven’t been around in there in years, so I gotta go check that out.

Buckhead – OK, venture into Buckhead and you’re into the very upscale and cliquish bars scene. Start with the Peachtree-Piedmont Crossing shopping center…at the Limelight.

Back in the day, Buckhead boasted the world-famous “LimeLight”. That was seriously the craziest bar I’d ever seen. It seemed to have picked up where Studio 54 left off. There were live models tucked into grotto-like alcoves, and they would move every so often – like mannequins coming to life! People there wore bathing suits, body glitter, pasties, suits, ties, flowy post-disco dresses, popped collar Polos…anything goes, and everything went. Colorful tube lighting hung down from the ceiling. Famous people hung out there. Big teased hair and full-length mink coats were seen. The bars themselves were long and curiously lit. I seem to recall a lot of neon, but then again, it was the 80s so bright and tacky neon was the norm everywhere.

From Wiki: “…The club hosted many Interview Magazine events which brought names like Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, Ali MacGraw, and Village People’s Randy Jones, among others to the club. Celebrity sightings included Tom Cruise, Pia Zadora, Shannon Tweed, Gene Simmons and Rick Springfield, to name but a few. The club also served as a location for Hal Ashby’s film The Slugger’s Wife (1985), which starred Rebecca De Mornay.”

If you were there, you remember the 24/7 Kroger grocery store to the left of it, otherwise known as “Disco Kroger”. YES! I was there! The Kroger still stands today, although now it’s a “Fresh Fare”. Sadly, the Limelight is now a “World Market” – and yet, it always was…although I think they referred to it as a “Meet Market”….or more accurately, “Meat Market”!

There’s a book that’s been created by photographer Guy D’Alema who was obviously tapped into the scene, and it’s called “Limelight … in a sixtieth of a second” – check out a clip from YouTube: