Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-03-03



Knight at the Movies: Limelight; Footloose

This article shared 6687 times since Wed Oct 12, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

A little more than 26 years ago I began working as an event promoter at what was then arguably the hottest nightclub Chicago had ever seen: Limelight.

From the day I set foot inside 632 N. Dearborn St., my professional life changed forever. To say the team of fellow creatives who worked and thrived alongside me for the next three and a half years, unless the nightspot closed New Year's Eve 1988, would be an understatement. I am reminded of that life-changing experience on a daily basis and, last year, at a 25th-anniversary reunion party, I greeted old colleagues and friends with the pleasure that comes with all such reunions.

Looming over the reunion but physically absent was Peter Gatien, Limelight's sole owner, who had also psychically presided over the club from his base in Manhattan, the original Limelight, during the club's heyday in the mid-'80s but had rarely visited. It's doubtful that even if Gatien had wanted to attend the Chicago reunion he would have; after being charged and found guilty of income-tax fraud, he was deported back to his native Canada in 2003, and visits back to the States aren't easily managed.

Now his daughter, Jen Gatien, a film producer of rather interesting offbeat indie fare (including the forthcoming LGBT-themed Jack and Diane) has produced a documentary directed by Billy Corben called Limelight that details the events in the early to mid-'90s that led to Gatien's demise as the onetime nightclub king of Manhattan, where he had presided over not just Limelight but The Tunnel, Palladium and his own mega club, USA.

Everything that happened to Gatien and his empire—when he was pitted against the neo-conservative, cross-dressing onetime New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his administration—occurred after my professional association with Gatien ended. That's not to imply any attempt on my part to distance myself from the man I once worked indirectly for and have occasionally been in touch with since. Rather, it's to point out that the club scene that rose to popularity after my tenure was very, very different, and the period examined in the film—the early to mid-'90s—is miles from my era.

My decade was the decade of big hair, big shoulders, outrageous fashion shows and art installations, cocaine, MTV and the invention of the CD and answering machines. Cell phones and the Internet were years away. As the '80s turned into the '90s the age of the club kids, all-night raves, designer drugs, hip-hop and rap became the driving forces behind the success of the megaclubs. The party went on non-stop because the drugs, like Ecstasy and Special K, worked for hours—and the music and the revelers followed suit.

The film details these changes to nightlife culture (that for my money took it down several notches) after Gatien, in his signature monotone but now sporting designer shades in place of the one time de rigueur eye patch (worn as the result of a teenage hockey accident in his native Canada), narrates his own history to an off-camera interviewer (illustrated by snippets of archival footage that filled me with nostalgia).

The bulk of the ensuing saga, according to the movie, looks at the Giuliani administration aiming to close down the megaclubs. Two of Gatien's top party promoters relay this information. One is Michael Alig, the king of the club kids who was eventually convicted of murdering another club kid—relay this. The other promoter, Lord Michael, is another convicted felon who proudly trumpets his claim of having been the first person to bring Ecstasy to Manhattan.

In contrast to these smarmy individuals, a trio of prosecutors describes attempts to directly link Gatien to the drug dealing that was going on in his clubs. Journalist Frank Owen, a longtime watcher of the party scene who chronicled Gatien's story in a book, is another talking head adding details to the story that gets seamier and more repetitive as the film progresses. Corben relies too heavily on the sleazy, ego-driven promoters who clearly relish their time on camera and could have used some fresh interview subjects to offset the taint they leave behind. Also, the film—a none-too subtle attempt to exonerate Gatien's reputation (which, based on the story here, has some merit)—leaves avenues unexplored and questions unanswered.

Although it's not quite the David-vs.-Goliath story that perhaps Gatien and his producer/daughter Jen might have hoped for, Limelight certainly offers an insider's view of a specific, particularly infamous period in nightlife history. Obviously I'm far, far, far from being objective, but I want the next Limelight movie to be a prequel and focus on the mid-'80s. Cue up "You Spin Me Round," "Blue Monday" and "Our Darkness," and meet me on the dance floor while we wait.

Limelight plays exclusively at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., Friday, Oct. 14 and Friday, Oct. 21.

Why would anyone in his or her right mind want to remake the nonsense that was the original 1984 quasi-musical Footloose? Oh yeah, probably because it made a zillion dollars, had a hot soundtrack that burned up the charts for months and developed a rabid cult following.

It is my duty to report that the story—one stretched to credibility in which an entire town of teens not allowed to dance finds an out-of-town rebel to lead a revolt—has been kept nearly intact, albeit with a Southern twang (with the action now in Tennessee). A newcomer hunk, Kenny Wormald, replaces Kevin Bacon while Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell have been given character roles, but the movie (which, surprisingly, has a few hot dance sequences) is still one of those awful/glorious guilty pleasures that you either go all the way with or simply roll your eyes at when confronted by its terrible, cynical crassness. (Like the original, this is an example of marketing as moviemaking.)

Given that, it's surprising that the movie's biggest misstep is casting Dancing with the Stars Julianne Hough (on leave from the show) as the bad girl preacher's daughter and then not using her. Hough, who as any DWTS watcher can attest, is nothing if not a whirling dervish on the dance floor and a vocalist with a decent set of country-flavored chops. Hough easily handles the stereotypical dialogue and situations but is never given a song and barely three seconds of solo time on the dance floor. You keep waiting for the director to realize he's neglecting his hotly talented leading lady. But, no: Not only are we stuck with the wooden Kevin Bacon wannabe who dances and dances and dances and sweats up a storm in his muscle tee, but he never once conveys the glory in uninhibited dancing. Worse, he never takes off his shirt. That's not footloose—that's foolish.

Check out my archived reviews at or . Readers can leave feedback at the latter website.

This article shared 6687 times since Wed Oct 12, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Music Box to run Pedro Almodovar films starting March 12 2021-03-04
- On Friday, March 12, Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., and Sony Pictures Classics will present Pedro Almodovar's critically acclaimed English-language debut, the short film The Human Voice, starring Tilda Swinton and freely based on ...

Gay News

Sisters in Cinema brings back Learn & Earn Program: Sisters in Cinema Newsroom 2021-03-02
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL- Sisters in Cinema, a Chicago-based 501 (c)3 recently in the news for breaking ground on their new Media Arts Center, is proud to announce the return of their Sisters in Cinema Newsroom Program, and ...

Gay News

Awards season kicks off with 2021 Golden Globes 2021-03-01
- The 78th Annual Golden Globes Awards were distributed Feb. 28 in a quasi-virtual event hosted by performers Tina Fey at the Rainbow Room in New York City and Amy Poehler at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly ...

Gay News

MOVIES Director Ali LeRoi on his LGBT time-loop film 'The Obituary of Tunde Johnson' 2021-02-28
- The Obituary of Tunde Johnson is a movie with some familiar elements—but they're used to make a novel film. The movie uses the time-loop element that's probably most popular in the film Groundhog Day. However, director ...

Gay News

MOVIES Dutch journalist talks about making 'My Friend, the Mayor' 2021-02-17
- In the Amazon Prime Video documentary My Friend, the Mayor: Small-town Democracy in the Age of Trump, Dutch journalist Max Westerman profiles friend Sean Strub, an openly gay activist, activist, long-term AIDS survivor and POZ magazine ...

Gay News

New dance film features 46 dancers from 20 countries 2021-02-17
- Films.Dance—a global film series produced by and under the creative direction of LA-based Jacob Jonas The Company—continues with Match, the single most expansive collaboration in the 15-film series. Match features ...

Gay News

Showbiz: Jodie Foster, 'Aretha,' gospel singer, Cody Newman, gay actors 2021-02-14
- While promoting her new film The Mauritanian, Jodie Foster said she "was a little scared of" acting alongside Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, Yahoo! Entertainment noted. Of Silence (which has its 30th anniversary this ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ film critics group unveils nominations 2021-02-11
- The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics (GALECA) revealed the nominations for the 2021 Dorian Film Awards on Feb. 11. Minari leads the way with six nominations, including best film and best foreign-language film; Nomadland scored five ...

Gay News

MOVIES 'Wonder Woman 1984' coming to PVOD, Digital, Blu-Ray 2021-02-10
- The movie Wonder Woman 1984—the sequel starring Gal Gadot, with Patty Jenkins as director—is arriving on Premium Video on Demand (PVOD), 4K, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, according to a press release from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. ...

Gay News

Groundbreaking ceremony held for Sisters in Cinema Media Arts Center 2021-02-09
- Sisters in Cinema held a press conference Feb. 8 at the South Shore Cultural Center to commemorate the construction of its new state-of-the-art Media Arts Center that will be at 2310 E. 75th St. The event, ...

Gay News

Sisters in Cinema groundbreaking Ceremony promises access, training in South Shore 2021-02-05
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL - South Shore will soon have access to a state-of-the art media facility now that a local organization has begun construction on its new brick-and-mortar home. Sisters in Cinema, a 501(c)3 dedicated to celebrating ...

Gay News

Wizard World Chicago moved from June to August 2021-02-05
- Wizard Brands, Inc. announced that its scheduled 2021 live event in Chicago has been postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions and in continued accordance with federal, state and local guidelines. Instead of the original dates of June ...

Gay News

SAG nominations announced; Boseman gets four nods 2021-02-04
- Nominations for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards were announced Feb. 4. On the film side, Deadline noted that the late Chadwick Boseman made SAG Awards nomination history by receiving four nominations: for his lead role ...

Gay News

Donald Trump resigns from SAG-AFTRA; group tersely responds 2021-02-04
- Former U.S. President Donald Trump resigned from SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) after the organization's national board recently voted overwhelmingly to find probable cause of ...

Gay News

Golden Globe nods announced; LGBTQ shows, characters and actors included 2021-02-03
- Nominations for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards—which honor the best in television and film—were announced Feb. 3. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will return as hosts of the event for a fourth time. The Golden ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.