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ORANGE COUNTY CALENDAR: ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, LEISURE

Young Crowd Basks in Limelight

September 13, 2000|CHRIS CEBALLOS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

If you were one of the 200 or so people who didn't get into Limelight, Orange County's newest 18-and-older nightclub, on opening night a couple of weeks ago, the police say thanks for being so patient.

But if you were one of the more than 3,100 clubbers to filter through Paris restaurant--the former Cattleman's Wharf in Anaheim--you know what they missed: soul-thumping trance, house and progressive beats in the basement; a fun top-40 groove upstairs; two balconies for smokers; three bars; two VIP rooms; and plenty of room to mix, mingle and make new friends.

"I got an e-mail on it; heard it was going to be the bomb and it was," said Paul Kim, 24, of Westwood.

With high expectations, Kim and his friends made the hourlong drive from L.A. for the club's grand opening.

Limelight takes its name from the notorious New York nightclub that closed in 1996 when owner Peter Gatien was charged with promoting the sale of drugs at the club. It reopened last year after Gatien was acquitted.

But Gatien's hardships proved to be a windfall for local promoters Darrel Adams, Afee "Ash" Danesh and Jonah Miller. Gatien sold the California rights to Adams in 1996, and Limelight operated briefly that year in Newport Beach.

Thus far, the Limelight name helped draw clubbers from across the Southland.

"I thought it was fun, but I waited too many minutes [to get in]," said Mary Hippert, 18, of San Clemente.

"I liked the hip-hop room," she said, where break dancers took up much of the dance floor.

"It was cool, when we finally got in," said Jigna Patel, 23, of Los Angeles. "There was some pretty poor taste in there," she said, referring to the barely legal-age women sporting vinyl strap-on halters, "but I thought it was a great layout."

Even though its advertised Skybar (in reality a modest fourth-floor smoking patio) is a far cry from the luxurious poolside bar at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood, it's a fun place to watch Disneyland's 9:30 p.m. fireworks show. And the various levels of the 16,000-square-foot restaurant make the club bearable for some of the jaded, older crowd.

"The different levels are interesting," said Pradra Ramtim, 25, of Fullerton. "I wish it was 21 and older, though. It's just like salmon spawning in there.

"But I guess Anaheim and Orange County need an 18-and-over club," he said. "And as a singles place, I had a pretty good time tonight."

L.A. clubgoers will like the $4.50 well drinks but will bemoan the traffic caused by the mass exodus of families from Disneyland and the absence of valet parking.

Attendance has leveled out since the opening, at about 1,200 per night, and Miller said that about 80% of the club's patrons are 21 or older.

"Those who are underage have a mature posturing I've only seen in Europe," he said. "We attribute this to the classy subtleties of the venue itself and the professional manner in which Limelight and Paris are run."

"We have taken great lengths to garner just the right mix of hip, affluent and mature people to attend Limelight by handpicking our clientele and backing it with a first-class promotion," Miller said.

Still, city officials have denied Limelight promoters the necessary permits to operate after-hours dancing at Paris. Miller said they will begin offering after-hours dancing from 2 to 6 a.m. in Irvine at the Season Ticket--formerly Metropolis--beginning Sept. 23.

"It was pretty disappointing," Miller said. "Our intention was to run 9 p.m. straight through to 6 a.m. . . . Orange County is severely lacking in good venues for 18-and-over clubs."

After-hours dancing at the Season Ticket will also be 18-and-older.

"We're going for an older-crowd feel, and the 18 and over is just kind of a bonus. That's what we mean by 'megaclub.' We're really trying to focus on the music and create a place where they could go and enjoy the vibe. Then the 18-and-overs wouldn't be so apt to cause problems and not focus so much on trying to drink."

Saturday, Limelight will feature the world premiere of the new Forum Snowboards video "The Resistance," with members of the international snowboard team in attendance. And the music promises to be hot, especially in the upcoming weeks with Paul Brady (the techno DJ, not the Celtic songwriter) from Dublin, making a rare stop on his U.S. tour.

Limelight, Saturdays at Paris restaurant (formerly Cattleman's Wharf), 1160 W. Ball Road, Anaheim. (714) 294-6804; (213) 203-3115. $10 for those 18-20; $7 for 21 and older; buffet dinner is included. 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Information: http://www.limelightoc.com

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