Lime Light Disco – Then & Now Montreal
By: Dick Nieuwendyk
Founded in September 1973 by Yvon Lafrance, the Lime Light Disco, located on 1254
Stanley Street, was the biggest disco nightclub in Montreal.
During the 1970s Montreal had the most dynamic disco scene in North America after New York City with its popular Studio 54 nightclub. The main floor – where the Chez Parée strip joint is located today – was known as Le Jardin, a disco club that catered to an all male gay dancing population with live bands, playing R&B, Soul, and Funk.
The Lime Light was on the second floor, with kind of a mixed crowd – white, black, gay and straight, and the third floor was the “Super Lime” where only the regulars were allowed. Next door was the Hollywood Disco, a cruising gay bar, and next to the Hollywood was Bud’s Lounge, an all male gay leather bar.
In the early 1970s, when Montreal was going through a tumultuous time: the October Crisis, FLQ, War Measures Act, and Quebec’s drive toward sovereignty, the Lime Light was the place to be, to forget about conflicts, and abandon oneself to the beat of disco music, dancing and being entertained by international artists such as Grace Jones, the “Disco Goddess”, Gloria Gaynor, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, James Brown, Mick Jagger, and Nigerian born “Disco Diva” Carol Jiani, to name a few.
Music at the Lime Light was provided by the legendary Montreal deejay Robert Ouimet, who was known worldwide as the Godfather of Montreal Disco, and the best DJ in Canada from 1973 to 1982. Ouimet won Billboard magazine’s “DJ of the Year” Award in 1977, and was the first DJ in Canada to play live on the radio.
The Lime Light closed in the early 80s, but re-opened in 1997 to relive the heyday of the disco era with Boogie Wonderband, Steeves Martin and Grace Jones. It closed again in 2001, and re-opened as Club La Boom.
Montreal’s Lime Light was the inspiration for “Funkytown”, a 2011 movie by screenwriter Steve Galluccio about Montreal at the height of the disco era in the second half of the 1970s, when Montreal was the second-most important disco hub on the continent behind New York City. The year is 1976. Montreal is booming, and there are whispers that Quebec may attempt to secede from Canada. Funkytown follows the life of a group of colorful characters as they meet on a regular basis at Montreal’s hot disco spot – the Starlight. Several events take place that change their lives. As these characters’ lives unfold, the Parti Québécois takes power changing the cultural landscape in Quebec while the disco craze slowly fades. One of these people is Bastien, who is a central part of this story. His drug addiction, dreams to become an actor and womanizing make him the “bigger than life” typical 70s character around which the whole story revolves.
In an interview Galluccio stated that the Lime Light was so hot at times, that the cops had to close lower Stanley Street on a Saturday night.
Source: Cashbox, The Gazette, Putlocker, The Globe and Mail