Behind the Scenes at Tunnel, Limelight, Avalon, and Other Legendary Nightclubs
by Steve Adelman
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Pub Date 07 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 29 Dec 2023
Steve Adelman’s humorous and engaging memoir reflects on his years as the director and owner of some of the world’s most popular nightclubs, including the Roxy, Limelight, Tunnel, and Palladium in the heyday of clubs in New York City during the 1980s and 1990s, followed by Avalon (Boston, Hollywood, NYC, and Singapore locations), and the New Daisy Theatre in Memphis. Nocturnal Admissions is a timely, unconventional look at one of pop culture’s most outwardly glamorous, yet misunderstood industries, bringing the reader backstage into the world of nightlife at its highest level.
Wearing the multiple hats of ringmaster, entrepreneur, guidance counselor, multimillion-dollar dealmaker, and music soothsayer, Adelman chronicles an improbable journey from small town to big city, filled with a cast of characters he could never have imagined: People named Hedda Lettuce, Jenetalia, Maxi Min, and Jiggy, who collide with and around the likes of Jack Nicholson, Bruce Willis, Sir Richard Branson, Leonardo DiCaprio, RuPaul, Rudy Giuliani, and Snoop Dogg, among many, many others.
Navigating city crackdowns, crazed partners, and cultural differences, Adelman relates how he watched his Nana out-dance an ex-NFL lineman, was chastised by Bob Dylan, launched the EDM cultural movement, helped created the “mash-up” with Perry Farrell, butted heads with Jerry Falwell, rang in the New Year with Matt Damon’s mother, leveraged porn star Jenna Jameson, relied on advice from felons, almost pancaked Prince, and built the world’s most lavish nightclub.
Nocturnal Admissions is a hilarious, adrenaline-filled ride through the peak decades of the world's most famous nightclubs and nightlife scenes.
A Note From the Publisher
In 1997, Adelman launched Avalon on Lansdowne Street in Boston, which quickly became a national success. Over the next four years, he led a team to develop six venues on the famed street, turning it into the ultimate one-stop entertainment destination.
In 2002, Adelman purchased the Palace Theatre in Hollywood and Limelight in New York City, the same venue he directed ten years earlier. After a year of construction and renovations, he expanded the Avalon brand on both coasts, along with the ultra-exclusive Spider Club. This “club within a club” became the ultimate celebrity haunt and one of the country’s most sought-after nightlife experiences.
Always striving to be one step ahead and break new ground, he expanded his focus to Singapore, opening Avalon as part of the Marina Bay Sands Resort and Casino, becoming the first U.S. entertainment brand of its kind in Asia. Returning to the States, Adelman set his sights on famed Beale Street in Memphis, restoring the historic New Daisy Theatre. He now lives in Memphis with his wife and dog Milton.
Anthony Haden-Guest is a cartoonist, journalist, and author. His drawings have appeared in the New York Observer, and his stories have appeared in such magazines as Talk, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Details, the London Observer, Sunday Times and Telegraph, and Paris Review. His books include The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco & the Culture of the Night (William Morrow & Co.) and True Colors: The Real Life of the Art World (Grove/Atlantic). He lives in New York City and London.
“In Steve Adelman's nightlife memoir Nocturnal Admissions, we get an inside look into the generation of dance culture on the rise at the dawn of the millennium, just before 9/11 would alter the course of our culture's history. Embedded in these stories are anecdotes about how attitudes around queerness, dance music, and celebrity have intertwined for a generation. In its pages, we see vintage photos of today's icons entranced in the bohemia of yesteryear, during a time before the internet, smartphones, and TikTok. In the pictures, as well as in the chapter on the biggest party of all New Year's Eve 2000, a sense of the sensual appeal of the dance floor shines through.”—Rolling Stone
“Through this decades-long tenure in the scene, Adelman rubbed elbows with everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to Bob Dylan, and he’s now amalgamated the memories and lessons gleaned via his decades in nightlife into a book: Nocturnal Admissions: Behind the Scenes at Tunnel, Limelight, Avalon, and Other Legendary Nightclubs. In the book, Adelman tracks his career from the new wave days to the EDM explosion, giving the lessons learned in an often cutthroat industry and the hot gossip on what was really going down in the VIP area.”—Billboard
A world “unbound by the restrictions . . . of daytime responsibilities” comes to exuberant life in Adelman’s debut, a chronicling of his decades-long tenure in the nightclub scene. Determined to one day recreate his own version of “Ricky’s Tropicana Club” in I Love Lucy, Adelman left his childhood home in Michigan’s suburbs for N.Y.C. in the mid-1980s. By the early ’90s, he was the 30-something director of five of Manhattan’s largest nightclubs, including the legendary Roxy and the Limelight; in the next 10 years, he’d open clubs in Boston, Hollywood, and Singapore. In stories that pulsate like an EDM track, Adelman gives readers VIP access to that glitzy bygone era’s swirling parties littered with drugs and alcohol. Along the way, he details the “controlled process” of maniacal publicity stunts—fueled by the fascinating symbiotic relationship of celebrities and club promoters who manipulated the press—and offers an entertaining who’s who of club-going stars, from RuPaul to a “recently divorced” Donald Trump, who’d “turn up with a young model type, then call it in himself to the tabloids.” While the New York club scene crumbled under city crackdowns throughout the aughts, Adelman concludes on an optimistic note, claiming that a new golden age of nightlife—“the perfect storm of pent-up demand meeting a changing society”—is approaching. Partygoers will be dazzled.—Publishers Weekly
“With his 30 years of experience running the world's biggest nightclubs, Steve Adelman takes you behind the velvet rope to a world of celebrity, power, debauchery, and, most of all, fun. With his dishy yarns and observational humor, he transports you so you're right there basking under the lights of a disco ball with him.”—Kevin Fallon, Daily Beast
“Steve Adelman knows nightlife. His customers might not remember much, but Adelman does. In Nocturnal Admissions, he takes us on a youthful adventure into the depths of dancing and drugging and hooking up—without ever losing his sense of wonder.”—Richard Johnson, New York Daily News
“Nocturnal Admissions chronicles a great time to be alive. In the late ’90s and early 2000s, American nightlife got a second wind and in the thick of it was Steve Adelman with clubs in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles. Playing for Steve at the Avalon clubs in Boston and L.A. was always one of the highlights on a stateside tour for me, with sold-out nights and lines around the block. Steve’s clubs set the standard for the events that take place now.”—John Digweed, DJ and record producer
“For three decades Adelman has been a nightlife innovator at the highest level. Whether it be mega-clubs in NYC or dance clubs in Boston and Hollywood, he has set the trend for others to follow. Nocturnal Admissions goes behind the scenes into his world and feels like a funhouse where you can't help but anticipate what's around the corner.”—Jodi Goodman, president, Live Nation Entertainment, Northern California
"Electronic music in America in the early 2000s went through a renaissance period, with parties and rave events selling out every single weekend. People would come to these club shows in droves, hinting at a sign that there was an eventual EDM boom looming about a decade later. During this time, I was performing often at renowned venue Avalon in both Los Angeles and Boston, run by industry legend Steve Adelman. The production, energy, and overall vibe when I played there was, and still is to this day, absolutely unmatched. Nocturnal Admissions tells the story of how Avalon became a pioneering force in the music landscape, and consistently helped foster and maintain the local electronic music community’s passion for the genre—a highly impressive feat that I’m immensely grateful for even now.”—Sander van Doorn, DJ and record producer
“Steve Adelman's captivating memoir about his years as the director and owner of some of the most legendary nightclubs and dance clubs in the world lives up to its deliriously wicked play-on-words title.”—Shelf Awareness
“As a nocturnal power broker, Steve Adelman knows the ins and outs of classic NYC nightlife, and he also knows his way around the art of telling about it all. His book is like a comp bottle of champagne served in a VIP room.”—Michael Musto, Village Voice
“Nocturnal Admissions is Adelman's story, a peek at what went on behind those velvet ropes. It’s also a defense of that raucous, rowdy world.”—New York Daily News
“The world after dark I’ve photographed for over four decades is a place unique to our culture. One where its inhabitants are free to be themselves, without restriction, societal standing or sexual orientation. Nocturnal Admissions captures the humor, commonality and lessons learned from the crazy, fun, glamorous, at times outrageous, ever-changing and essential gathering place we call nightlife.”—Patrick McMullan, celebrity photographer
“Nocturnal Admissions is a can’t-put-it-down book exploring the world that I’ve lived and breathed all my adult life, told in fascinating style through the eyes of one of the scene’s most important players.”—Judge Jules, DJ and record producer
“Electronic dance music culture has blossomed and transformed over the years, but its mythos runs through Steve and his seminal contributions to nightlife. Even in the aftermath of 9/11 and the throes of a devastating pandemic, he has proven that the bonds cultivated in clubs are vital for human nature. If the past can speak to the future, Adelman’s work is the cell tower. And Nocturnal Admissions is the carrier.”—Jason Heffler, EDM.com
“An insightful love letter to a magical era in nightclubbing history. If you were lucky enough to be there, you will bubble over with nostalgia, and if you weren't, you will be inspired to start on your own nightlife journey.”—David Ireland, founder, Magnetic Magazine
“While reading Nocturnal Admissions, I laughed, I cried, but mostly I hoped . . . that someday Steve would get a real job.”—Myrna Adelman, Steve’s mom
“Playing the dark Avalon nightclub in Los Angeles was like evoking a mysterious live energy inside a classic architectural masterpiece. Nocturnal Admissions goes behind the scenes, documenting everything that goes into running venues like Avalon, and how the environments Adelman created brought out the best of a DJ’s creativity while performing to a crowd desperately waiting on every mix. When I played clubs like Avalon, I felt a responsibility to deliver.”—Steve Lawler, DJ and music producer
“As a photographer for the likes of Details, Max, Photo, and Stern in New York City during the ’80s and ’90s, I found the nightclubs and underground scene a fascinating place to capture so many unguarded and honest portraits of both celebrities and unknowns, unchained from the daily grind. Steve Adelman’s sanity and sharp wit during those wild times enabled him to thrive in the surrounding chaos. In Nocturnal Admissions, he brings this diverse cast of nightlife characters vividly back to life for all to enjoy with warmth and humour.”—Stephan Lupino, multimedia artist
“Steve Adelman is a master at creating spectacular nocturnal playgrounds, many of which I was fortunate to be a part of. However, in Nocturnal Admissions, it becomes clear that his talent for creating captivating environments extends beyond the world of nightlife and into his wonderful gift of storytelling. Steve is a keen observer of culture and deftly injects his personal adventures with insightful political, societal and historical context. In Nocturnal Admissions, Steve brilliantly captures one of the most exciting periods in contemporary music history in a way that is personal, humorous and thoroughly engaging.”—Christopher Lawrence, DJ and music producer
“Brimming with tales of city crackdowns (his career began in the Giulani days), crazed partners and general debauchery, along with photography from longtime nightlife shutterbugs Tina Paul and Alexis DiBiaso, the tome promises to be a fun read.”—DJ Magazine
“A professional partymeister overseeing the dance-floor revelry and debauchery of New York nightlife’s glory days in the ’90s.”—Chuck Arnold, New York Post
Past Praise for Steve Adelman and His Nightclubs:
“Adelman sets the scene, from Old World clubs to hipsters.”—The New York Times
“‘Excitement’ is a word to describe Adelman's clubs.”—Variety
“A Hollywood innovator.”—Los Angeles Times
“The game is played at different levels and Adelman is in the big leagues.”—Inc.
“Adelman creates a sense of dazzle and delight.”—The Boston Globe