In a city where body art studios are both plentiful and popular (and in some cases, nationally televised - hi, Kat!), it's a test to find a shop that draws as much universal praise and as loyal a clientele as Zulu Tattoo. Roni Zulu and his crew of profusely talented artists continue to be one of the best-known and best-loved tattoo houses in town, so it comes as no surprise that their semi-regular Zulu Lounge event packs in a dedicated crowd - and when the word gets out, a fair share of curious newbies, too. Like the couple who were behind us at the door for Sunday night's festivities at Boardner's; unsure if they were in the right place, they eventually piped up and asked, "Is this the line to see the belly dancers?"
Well, sure that's one way of putting it - there were plenty of bellies, tattooed, pierced and otherwise adorned under the stage lights at Zulu Lounge, though the dazzling array of costumes and wild variety of styles in the evening's lineup of dance and performance was a lot harder to sum up in so many words. Slammin' choreography influenced by both the street and the ancient, cultures from both the East and West. Musical accompaniments as diverse as MC Solar's delicious French hip-hop and the classic Bollywood vocalizations of Asha Bhosle. A wonderfully distinct cabaret of bodies in motion to encapsulate and celebrate the diversity of Zulu's tribe, from the bold, acrobatic forms of Jeremy Hahn and company to the delicate Kabuki-infused movement of Kalima Satori, featuring Zulu's wife and the evening's hostess Khani-Jo. (Busy as a bee, she also performed later in the evening with Medianoche.)
Perhaps most eye-popping of all, and an early wake-up call to anyone who wasn't already eyes-glued to the stage, the incendiary fire performance of Entropy Arts, whose burlesque-outfitted beauties displayed expert physical control even when their flaming props got a little too close to a limb for comfort. (If you weren't standing up front you probably didn't even catch it - man, they're good.)
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Of course, the evening's shindig was entirely staged, as are all Zulu Lounge festivities, as a way of giving back to the community. Initially Sunday's event was set up to benefit a different charity, however, recent events resulted in the night's proceeds going to Haiti relief, specifically RN Response Network, which funds the travel of registered nurses to aid in the immensely needed disaster relief efforts. Not only would the ticket price and proceeds from the evening's raffle - giving away killer prizes including tattoo gift certificates, vouchers for local boutiques and, to one very excited winner, a one of a kind guitar with a voodoo-inspired theme designed by Zulu himself - go to charity, but so would the entire night's alcohol take. Monday morning work be damned, it's sure a lot harder to turn down that one last vodka tonic when you know it's going to a good cause.