NEW YORK, NY – It was the mid 80’s when I entered the hot spot of the time, The Limelight. It was a dance club in an old church building and the stained glass windows reminded everyone not to commit sin. Located on W. 20th St. and 6th avenue, you never knew who you might come across once you went through the doors.
On this night I saw a pretty woman wearing her hair in a frizzy form. She was with a face I recognized, N.Y. Mets pitcher Ron Darling. The woman was his wife at the time, Toni Darling. They looked like the ultimate Hollywood couple.
My eyes went from Toni to the dance floor, where to this day I get excited thinking about it. Out on the floor boogeying was the legend himself, Pelé. There he was wearing a beige shirt with brown pants as he swayed to the beat. I remember his smile glowing as his blonde dance partner smiled back at him.
To say I was mesmerized is an understatement. The Babe Ruth of soccer was standing a couple of feet away from me until the dance ended. He then walked towards my direction with his blonde in tow, and that same look of total happiness was on his face. When he got closer to me, he spoke the words, “How are you, sir?” I was now completely frozen to the point that I remained mute. The great Pelé asked me how I was! What surprised me about that moment was how short Pelé was. He probably stood about 5 foot 6 inches, but his presence made him 10 feet tall.
Pelé’s death saddened me, but also planted a smile to my face at the thought of that one night at The Limelight. May he Rest in Peace and keep kicking goals from above.