NY's notorious Limelight goes from dancefloor to shopfloor

It was once home to some of the most notorious parties in Manhattan's history, a former church turned monument to pleasure where celebrities such as Grace Jones, Cher and Burt Reynolds partied alongside half-naked, chemically enhanced club kids to some of the hottest tunes in the city.

Now New York's infamous Limelight, which was sold for $3.2m in a New York bankruptcy court in 2001 and has been closed since 2007 following a series of failed club nights, has reopened as, of all things, a shopping mall.

The Limelight Marketplace, which opened last week, claims to offer jaded shoppers the chance to snap up something a bit different from the average mall. With no big-name High Street brands, the new owners have instead leased space to stalls ranging from the quirky (baby-goods store Silly Souls) to the traditional (Hunter Boots will open their first store in New York there) with the emphasis on attracting lunch-hour visitors interested in discovering something new.

"We're taking a place that was a blight on the neighbourhood for so long and turning it into a shopping haven," the mall's designer James Mansour told website guestofaguest.com last July.

Not everyone is quite so impressed by this vision, however, with website Gawker.com dismissing Mansour and new owner, Jack Menashe's plans as "South Street Seaport [a notorious tourist trap] on Sixth Avenue".

It's a long way from the club's notorious heyday when party promoter Michael Alig, who was jailed in 1996 for the murder and dismemberment of fellow club-kid Andre "Angel" Melendez, hosted the frenzied Disco2000 theme nights where roller-skate-wearing club-kids clad in nappies, glitter, blood-stained bridal dresses or angel's wings arrived with lunchboxes decorated with stickers and filled with drugs.

Still, as fans of Manchester's equally notorious Hacienda, now transformed into luxury flats, could tell you, in the club world, the beat might stutter but it eventually goes on, just somewhere new.

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