A short history of Orlando's relationship with the club scene

It's complicated

A short history of Orlando's relationship with the club scene
Photo via the Orlando GLBT History Museum

1975 Parliament House, a gay nightclub/motel/theater, opens.

1987 Teen club Electric Avenue is renamed Visage and begins serving alcohol, soon hosts national acts like Love and Rockets, the Ramones and more.

1988 According to a 1988 story in Orlando Weekly, DJ Kimball Collins discovers an acid-house night happening at the old Beacham Theater in Orlando and before long, he morphs it into AAHZ, the legendary house-music dance party that attracts people from all over Florida and turns Orlando into an epicenter for club culture.

1989 Walt Disney World opens Pleasure Island, a nightclub playground of sorts, which gives patrons access to multiple clubs for one entrance fee. The concept draws crowds away from downtown and to the theme-park region.

1992 AAHZ at the Beacham comes to an end, after struggling to compete with newer dance clubs, like the Abyss and Club Firestone.

1993 The Dust Brothers (later known as the Chemical Brothers) headline a massive rave at the Edge Nightclub in downtown Orlando, giving birth to an electronic dance music scene that would eventually sweep the nation.

1993 The Orange County Convention Center is home to a massive rave called Infinite, which would return to the venue for three consecutive years.

1993 DJ Kimball Collins introduces a new night called Reunion at a club called Dekko's.

1994 A female patron of a dance party called Reunion collapses and dies; Reunion is canceled for good three weeks later.

1997 Rolling Stone magazine calls Orlando the "Seattle of electronica" and Club Firestone the best dance club in the Southeast.

1997 City of Orlando passes its controversial "rave ban," which forces nightclubs to close their doors at 3 a.m., even if they stop selling alcohol. It doesn't, however, stop clubs that don't serve alcohol from operating.

1999 CityWalk opens at Universal Orlando, featuring a mix of retail, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

2000 A handful of new after-hours clubs and nights, including H2O2, Cyberzone, Area 51 and Fluid, are thriving in the region.

2001 Controversial rave club Cyberzone on Lee Road, where two people died from drug overdoses, is forced to close its doors.

2001 Popular Kit Kat Club closes its doors.

2002 Club H20, an oxygen bar operating past legal hours, puts another nail in the coffin of after-hours culture downtown when the MBI shuts the club down after multiple drug busts.

2003 City of Orlando considers extending drinking hours until 3 a.m. (4 a.m. on weekends), but backs off proposal due to public outcry.

2004 Club Paris opens in downtown Orlando, promising occasional visits from club co-owner Paris Hilton.

2004 DJ Paul Geller launches Crush, an underground indie/electro dance party that happens every Monday night at Backbooth.

2007 A cop pushes a woman down the stairs at Club Paris.

2007 Club Paris closes after a few rocky years in business.

2008 Disney announces that it's closing Pleasure Island and replacing it with new retail shops and restaurants.

2008 Popular dance night Saturday/Thursday at Firestone Live comes to an end.

2009 Kevin Collier, the man behind Orlando party-pic website smileforcamera. com, launches a Tuesday night party called Takeovr at Roxy nightclub.

2011 First Electric Daisy Carnival, a massive traveling DJ dance party/rave/festival, comes to Orlando and plays at Tinker Field.

2012 Crush comes to an end with a party called Final Crush.

2012 An airplane hangar at the Orlando Executive Airport is transformed into a temporary nightclub during NBA All Star weekend. The party is hosted by Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard, Lil Wayne and Drake.

2013 Orlando DJ Brian Dawe gets a spot on VH1's Master of the Mix reality show.

2013 The city considers allowing bars in downtown Orlando to serve alcohol until 3 a.m. on weekends, causing massive debate over how this could impact the nightlife scene and life in the city's center. The proposal has been tabled, at least for the moment.

2014 A man breaks his leg when he falls through the ceiling of now-defunct Roxy nightclub; later that year, Roxy closes and is renovated and rebranded as Gilt Nightclub.

2014 While attempting to subdue a man named Kody Roach outside a downtown Orlando club, Orlando police fire a shot that accidently hits and kills a woman inside.

2014 Paul Geller plays his Final Crush (again), celebrating 10 years of the indie dance night. This time it really is the end of the party.

2014 Club Firestone drops "Firestone" from its name to become Venue 578.

2015 City of Orlando passes a temporary moratorium on new after-hours clubs, leaving just one – Nokturnal, see page 15 – in operation.

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