We first caught wind of Don Hill's by way of a downtown playwright who told us he needed to go home and get some rest instead of spending another night at Don Hill's "blowing rails off some model's ass." That such a utopia existed wasn't revealed to us until the turn of the century (we're not that cool?); by then the deliriously debauched nightclub had already been going strong for seven years, and to this day it's still a place where everyone can cut loose like a C-list rock star, or some nobody with infinite potential and nothing to lose.

That's not to say open drug consumption is explicitly condoned, or that's what Don Hill's is "all about," but the club, which opened in 1993, has always been a place where the potential for a truly epic night in NYC seemed closest to being realized. Last night the bar's eponymous owner passed away, and through Twitter and blogs, fond memories are emerging from the haze:

  • "DON HILL IS THE ONLY CLUB OWNER I EVER WORKED FOR WHO DID NOT SEXUALLY HARASS ME, OR TRY TO GET ME TO DO COKE. He protected me. ALWAYS." — @LaraMascaraNYC
  • "After a night in Don’s the blast of air off the Hudson River staggering outside felt like a new morning. It was how rock n’ roll should be: loud, trashy, sexy enough to make shy people comfortable dancing because they were so fucking inspired." — Marc Spitz
  • "Saddened to hear about NYC nightlife legend Don Hill. End of an era. A stand-up guy through & through. So many gr8t memories at Don Hill's." — Murray Hill
  • "I have way too many stories about my time at Don Hill's. And that's just the stuff I can remember." — @VoxInDeserto
  • "Don Hill was one of the best human beings I've ever known. Always there for me+my family. Had our backs. Believed in me+loved me." — Bebe Buell
  • "my guess is the Don hill thing is an April fools gag / promotion... ;-)" — @jamestilberg

Michael Musto writes, "Don never wanted things to be complacent or boring, but he did all that with a decency and low-key niceness that made business dealings with him very palatable. I sometimes wondered if he was some hillbilly who'd wandered into the NYC club scene by mistake--he was that unpretentious!... It's a dive in the best sense of the word. Don Hill really rocked."

It's unclear what the cause of death was, but a friend of Hill's, Bebe Buell, says he was rushed to the hospital in the afternoon and passed away in the early evening. There was an impromptu gathering at Don Hill's last night, and a memorial party is in the works that Buell says "will be the biggest coming together of all the people he has helped+supported-those of us who loved him+knew him well." Brooklyn Vegan has more.