Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Party Fears II

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Tony, my friend who worked at Paradise, was changing jobs.
As I wrote a few posts ago, in Despite Straight Lines, Limelight opened in Chicago in the summer of '85. Yay! Now I can be famous!
It was where Excalaber is now. ( I think it is still called that!? I don't get out as much as I used to...) Not long after it opened, Tony got a bartending job there. All my how the hell am I going to get in there cause I'm only 19 stress went away when Tony said he could sneak us past the doormen, if we got there early enough.
It, of course, took me a long time to decide what to wear. I finally went with my motorcycle jean jacket, adorned on the front with about twenty vintage brooches, Jody's long, fitted black skirt, which we usually fought over, with white socks and used black oxfords. I was very into Robert Smith's look from the videos for Japanese Whispers: spiky black hair, but not too big, with big black eye brows, whitened skin, and the perfect shade of red lipstick. A cool red, not an orangy one. (Whenever the Lovecats video came on at Berlin, people would always comment on my resemblance to Robert. "Hey! you look just like him!" I would just smile and nod..)
I went with Jody and Scott, and I had forgotten that Limelight was downtown, so we had to train it down there. At night. As soon as I walked out the door, I said wait! I want to change my outfit! Ignoring me, they grabbed my arms and dragged me to the Belmont El stop. I was nervous to take the train, cause I didn't usually dress so severely for it. It was ok for the quick walks to Medusa's and Berlin; I didn't feel like a gazelle separated from the herd when I did that. I worried the harsh lights of public transportation would expose my Miss Maybellene ways. I wanted to appear naturally made-up. With my bright red lipstick. And I didn't want to get beat up.
Thankfully, the train ride was uneventful, and we made it to Limelight. The building was a huge, castle of a place. It used to be a museum of some sort. Tony got us in, and we wandered around like Alice after she fell down the rabbit hole. One giant room led to another, til we found ourselves on the dance floor. They were playing the music we did in our living room! We were on that dance floor for hours, with kids dressed like us. And kids dressed better than us. And kids dressed cooler than us. Yes! I thought to myself. Someone to emulate!
The tourists hadn't found Limelight yet. Oh, they eventually did, and I'll tell you about that later.
After tiring ourselves out dancing, we found the Dome Room. It was the size of a football field, and four stories tall. This room turned out to be our regular hangout. There was something about being in that room that stimulated my imagination:
It felt like being in a living movie. Or forgotten French chateau. But it mainly felt like a decadent waste of space and resources; as though my friends and I were contributing to the downfall of society.
"We, the young people of today, don't want museums or schools, we want nightclubs! And drinks! And some drugs! And Benson and Hedges Menthol Lights!"
There was something else about the vastness of Chicago's Limelight that called to me, and if I had a way to see into the future, I wonder if I would've ever gone back:
A huge, huge nightclub meant, for me, huge, huge liqour and drug comsumption. And I wasn't the only one. It's size hid a myriad of sins. You could get away with anything there. Little did I realize this was probably the owner's intent.
Whenever I was there, my bad habits knew no bounds. Especially my delusional fantasy world, which was the main reason for my asshole behavoir. I usually had to be carried out of there, night after night. (I think I went there every night for two years.)
Each morning I would think to myself: I can't belive what I did/said that last night. Now I know I'm really banned from that place.
But they always let me back in. Another reason why I was so out of control there was because I wanted to work in the "cages". They were display windows, like for department stores or natural history museums, except the living occupant dressed up in a freaky/cool outfit, and did "odd" things in a bizzare setting, to entertain the patrons. It was the ultimate symbol of Chicago coolness to work in one, and I wanted to badly.
I would dress wilder, put on more make-up, make my hair bigger, do crazier things; everything but ask the manager for the job. I was hoping to 'get noticed' and then get the job.
That never happened, but I did eventually get offered the job of doorman for the VIP lounge.
But that was all yet to be. During the week of my first night there, Limelight hosted Erte's 85 birthday party. Does he live in Chicago? Why is the party here? Who asked who to have the party? Would he be bombed? Would he want to draw me? These were the dorky thoughts that raced through my head. The VIP lounge was so crowded that night, I never did get a good look at him. But he was there. The memories of art deco and the '30's were living and breathing in 1985.

1 comment:

David said...

I think I worked the Erte' party. I don't remember...