If you were in Atlanta in the late 1970s and early 1980s I’m guessing you sampled the disco scene. Getting all fine and spiffy in the best dancing garb you had, and hitting the clubs always provided a night of sights, sounds, and strutting your stuff in a different way.
We were still a relatively small city back then, but anyone wanting a taste of the disco nightlife had ample choices for places to shake your groove thing. Yes, I used the title of a disco song.
The big name in town was undeniably The Limelight. We had many fun nights there, at Jeryls Night Club, and Club 2001 VIP. Being on the radio we did appearances with contests, emceed events, and sometimes the DJ may let us mix for a minute. We could make some pretty good coin for doing a two-hour gig.
On WQXI, we had a Saturday Night Disco party, and we even had billboards that said, “Listen to Your Feet.” The soundtrack for the movie “Saturday Night Fever” gave us some of the best ratings we’d ever had. If you’ll look at the list of Top 40 hits the soundtrack produced, you’ll understand why.
Every place had a disco ball. Combine the thumping music with a mixture of colognes and perfumes, cigarette smoke, sounds of laughter and a good time, and outfits so outrageous we had no idea that the wardrobes would be providing Halloween costume ideas for decades to come.
As usual, there are always great dancers, and John Travolta’s dancing in “Saturday Night Fever” provided plenty of inspiration for moves most couldn’t make. And the serious lady dancers with short skirts and toned legs were amazing partners. Lighted dance floors in some places added another element of glitz and glamour.
Jeryls Disco was s happening place in the prime-time disco days. Jeryls was in an office park in Cobb County not terribly far from a couple of popular apartment communities located on the Chattahoochee that were home to singles and young professionals who loved to party. Quite a few of our on-air personalities were regulars on the scene and contributed to bringing in more clients with various events and promotions. Also housed in the same office park were a few record company labels who added even more famous bodies to the mix with various artists and entertainers.
Linda Ronstadt, with boyfriend, former California Gov. Jerry Brown, popped in one evening. The Six Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors happened by. Stuntman Evel Knievel was a fairly regular customer. A lady friend of mine who was a server at the time said Evel was a big tipper, so there may have been a little sparring over who took care of Mr. Motorcycle for the evening.
In the old Broadview Plaza on Piedmont is where Club VIP 2001 was located. It was a legendary venue in a spot The Great Southeast Music Hall had occupied many years before.
The VIP did it right. Great lights and sound. Confetti could fall from the sky. All those songs with whistles and screeches created a lot of the sounds during the early days of the synthesizer.
Really talented patrons would show up, especially if there was a contest involved. I signed on for a six-week stint (I think) with the club that had a major dance contest that concluded on the final week and awarded cash, a trip, and other goodies.
I do remember a physical disagreement happening in the men’s room one evening. With my experience as a former EMT, I was able to triage victims and advised a few to seek medical attention. The only blood most on-air people see usually comes from a paper cut. That was an interesting night.
You want stars? You want outrageous and decadent happenings? Then you want the Limelight. Billed as the Studio 54 of the South, the Limelight was definitely the biggest game in town in the world of disco. The famous glass dance floor combined with thousands of lights and the best-sounding sound system in the biz made for serious fun.
I watched the disc jockeys mix the 12-inch vinyl discs in amazement. It could rain confetti or snow at any given moment. Scantily clad beauties coaxing people to dance definitely made the party happen.
Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett, Rod Stewart, and a gazillion more celebs frequented the place. To my knowledge John Travolta never made it. I did meet his brother, Joey, one evening.
Some songs from the era are still popular today. The Village People gave a whole new meaning to the letters Y.M.C.A. Everyone knows it, and “Funkytown,” by Lipps Inc. These songs still pack a dance floor at a wedding reception.
Please use caution if you try to recreate your moves from those years.