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- Published on Amazon.com
It's films like these that make me sad to be an American. With each passing day, our freedom is eroded. As pointed out clearly in this documentary film, the government has unlimited time and unlimited resources. They can, and will take down anyone they want. In this case, it was Canadian born Peter Gatien, owner/operator of several NYC nightclubs.
One might construe the statement above to indicate I support tax evasion, law-breaking and illegal drug sales. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. But taking away / shutting down nightclubs will not eliminate nor fix the drug problem in America - case in point, watch: Weeds: Season Eight.
While most people have heard of the smashing success of Studio 54 (Studio 54: The Legend), Peter Gatien's empire included not 1, but 4 clubs, including the infamous Limelight, housed in a former church and the club for which the film is titled (and focused). His business model was to offer citizens a place to dance and party and have a good time - much the same way every nightlife institution does - the same reason people go to NYC, Las Vegas, Miami - or any bar/dance club in any town or city in the world.
"Limelight" tells the story of just one outlet for the people shuttered by the unending government assault on a man, and his business. Trust me, if he was Donald Trump, he would have emerged from this with wealth and with his family living in the USA. But, he wasn't. In the past decade, changes in society, law, insurance regulations (just to name a few) have all but eliminated the mega nightclub in America. One by one, these institutions have closed there doors, unable to comply with an ever-changing increase in government, increase in insurance premiums and decrease in legal limits for consumption of alcohol. Again, don't get me wrong, driving while intoxicated is bad. So is driving while texting, but what has the government done to protect you from that injustice? Sure, they have enacted some laws - lame laws that are rarely enforced. I would rather be driving next to a buzzed and aware driver than a driver with 2 hands on a cell phone typing a message any day of the week. But I digress.
When the corrupt federal government investigation failed to shutter Mr. Gatein's businesses, the city and state of NY took care of the rest. Under the new "leadership" of Mayor Giuliani, the city of New York was being purged of any business that was not considered wholesome by an elite few.
The film through a series of interviews and investigative research tells the tragic story and eventual demise of a business at the hands of angry government leaders. The ending throws one more horrific hit when a judge orders Peter Gatein be immediately deported to Canada.
We as a society are at fault (see: Ethos: A Time for Change) when we allow (and often invite) government to step in and control the free enterprise system. Best I can tell, Peter Gatien never killed anyone, nor did he sell drugs, nor cultivate them; he paid taxes, he ran a business that employed nearly 1,000 people. When he erred on his taxes, he admitted the mistake and agreed to pay back the money due. Ask the former Enron employee's how they're doing today. Peter Gatien made one mistake - he wasn't a man of wealth and he wasn't connected with men of wealth. Therefore, when the government wanted him out of business, he never stood a chance. His story is one of many. And sadly I fear, many more to come.
For me, this is a personal story. I worked in the nightlife business in the 90's and 2000's. I was also a customer of many a nightclub - many of which are long gone. And I visited the Limelight in 1991. Never once did I possess, buy or use an illegal drug in any nightclub. Nightclubs are not bad places. Take them away and the people will continue to seek a means to find what they need legally or otherwise. We are oppressing the people and this film tells part of that story.
And lastly, even the late great Mayor Koch warned us...