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THEN AND NOW: Party town



THEN: At the dawn of the decade, Buckhead held a dubious distinction as Atlanta’s nationally notorious party zone, where every weekend became a free-for-all of club-hopping frat boys, gun-toting ballers, endless traffic jams and drunk bachelorettes puking in the gutter. The Gold Club was the city’s glitziest strip club, a virtual home away from home for Cristal-quaffing NBA stars and other big spenders. And if you didn’t want to go home at 4 a.m., the closing time for most nightclubs, you could swing by gay megaclub Backstreet, the city’s best-known 24-hour bar, where the party — and the iniquity — never stopped.

NOW: As we all know, Atlanta nightlife hasn’t been like that for a long time. The seeds for the backlash against fun were sown in the first frosty hours of the new decade, when Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his posse got into a fight outside a Buckhead club that left two men stabbed to death. A series of subsequent late-night murders in the bar district eventually led Atlanta to roll back the citywide last call to 2:30 a.m. The Gold Club was seized by federal agents after owner Steve Kaplan pleaded guilty during a high-profile racketeering trial; the iconic building recently reopened as the Gold Room, a non-adult-entertainment nightclub. A judge’s ruling helped put Backstreet and the other 24-hour nightclubs out of business. And Buckhead Village no longer exists; it’s largely been demolished to make room for a luxury retail district that, at this point, may never be built.

PROGNOSIS: If you’re looking for a good night’s sleep, Atlanta’s your town. 

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