Party's Over At Pulsations Exotic Dancing Is Out, And Retirees May Be Moving In.

Posted: November 08, 1995

CONCORD — As Delaware County folklore has it, Pulsations Nightclub is built on sacred Indian burial grounds.

Given the history of the once-glitzy joint on Route 1, the spirits seem to have had their revenge.

First, there was an accidental death on opening night in 1983. Later came court battles with the Liquor Control Board and the neighbors. And there are plenty of unmistakable signs that the party is over.

Pulsations representatives did not return repeated telephone calls.

The glass front doors are jammed shut with a broom and some wire.

The water is shut off.

The liquor license expired Oct. 31.

And the sheriff has plastered on the doors a notice that the property will be auctioned Dec. 15.

"This is really good news for all of us," said John Cornell, the Concord Township manager, who lived through many of the controversies surrounding Pulsations. "It's been an emotional and psychological struggle that's gone on for many years."

The death knell came when a court battle ended topless dancing last fall. The exotic acts were a last-ditch attempt to save the failing club, which already owed thousands of dollars in taxes when James Gorman bought it from J. Leon Altemose in 1994.

Pulsations limped through the summer with teen dance nights and private parties. But it wasn't enough to pay the bills.

Now Concord Township has put the finishing touches on a series of ordinances designed to keep adult entertainment out.

If zoning approvals and financing deals go through, what was Pulsations will become the home of the Concordville Life Care Center, a retirement community proposed in August.

Investors in the retirement community are negotiating with Main Line Federal Savings & Loan to buy the $1 million mortgage on Pulsations.

But even if the gaudy concrete structure is torn down to build a quiet Colonial development, the history of Pulsations will haunt the site along with its other ghosts.

Before Pulsations, the site was home to Altemose's Longhorn Ranch, a family-style steakhouse known for children's birthday parties and waitresses in short skirts. Before that came the Petit Arms, an upscale supper club.

It was a hip, limousine-riding crowd that wrapped around the club on Nov. 19, 1983, for the grand opening of Pulsations. What people saw on that first night and for years afterward was a voluminous dance hall decorated with chrome, mirrors and lights that cost Altemose more than $10 million to build.

It featured 11 bars, 10 levels, 6,000 lights, and special effects that included a spaceship that descended from the ceiling and released a seven-foot talking robot named Pulsar. The club even had 12 VIP-style hotel rooms.

Shortly after 1 a.m. on opening night, as 2,000 people danced to disco music amid 12-foot speakers on hydraulic lifts and multicolored lights, a lighting fixture fell, killing Margaret Jones, a 37-year-old Media woman, and injuring five others.

In 1987, the club settled out of court a lawsuit filed by Jones' family, for an undisclosed sum. Some say her ghost still haunts the place.

Public relations specialist Clare Pelino joined the Pulsations Entertainment Complex staff three months after its grand opening and recalls many of the parties and events that got people talking.

Pelino, who now runs Prophile public relations in Philadelphia, said the club was styled after clubs in New York and Los Angeles. For many years, more than 2,000 people would show up on weekend nights. Pulsations would host huge radio station anniversary parties where free drinks flowed like tap water. The club even had its own dance troupe - the Pulsations Dancers.

Some of the acts that played there were Adam Ant, Was (Not Was), Men Without Hats, Dead or Alive, Taylor Dayne, Danzig, Anthrax, Simply Red, the Human League, Joe Jackson, Dick Clark, the Fixx, Greg Allman, Bad Company, Richard Marx, the Beach Boys, Samantha Fox and Debbie Gibson.

Altemose bought the touring stage, speakers and hydraulic equipment from Kiss and installed them in the club, Pelino said.

Altemose was boating this week and could not be reached for comment, his son said.

"We had so many different kinds of promotions," Pelino said. "Air guitar contests, every impersonator from Michael Jackson to Elvis Presley, trapeze

artists . . . bikini contests galore. Our teen nights were big."

One of Pulsations' more successful runs featured the Chippendales performing from Wednesday through Saturday nights, Pelino said. The male strippers lived at the club for more than a year. One dancer claimed he saw the ghost of Margaret Jones sitting at the bar one night after closing.

How Hollywood found its way out to Glen Mills may always be a mystery, but Bruce Willis - during his stint on Moonlighting - paid a visit, entertaining patrons after springing out of the club's spaceship.

"He just showed up one night," Pelino said. "He literally turned the place upside down, drinking vodka from a shaker. He partied all night."

Pulsations was a featured location in Mannequin Two: On the Move, a movie that starred William Ragsdale, Kristy Swanson, Meshach Taylor and Terry Kaiser.

After Pelino left in 1990, the club produced Las Vegas-style revues featuring a chorus line of senior citizens. The group performed for bus trips.

It was only the beginning of the end.

Today, the cracked pavement of the vast parking lot is strewn with debris, including two soggy mattresses, a fallen tree, and the front half of a small boat. The concrete trash cans in the lot, some containing empty liquor bottles, have not been emptied recently.

Residents recently noticed movers from an auction house carting away some of the club's insides. But where it's going, no one will tell.

Where are the Kiss hydraulics? The high-tech laser beams? And, most important, as Clare Pelino asked, "What's going to happen to Pulsar?"

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