Riff Raff

The Swing Set Folks carousing through North Beach during the Velvet Lounge opening last week might've noticed a bustle at the Off Broadway (soon to be the Black Cat), activity at the Chi Chi Club (soon to be the Chi Chi Ultra Lounge), and plaster dust floating around up the street at VIP Cocktails, the bar neighboring the Hi-Ball Lounge. Turns out that Hi-Ball owners Max and Sam Young recently purchased the VIP space with the intention of expanding their swinging club. An adjoining doorway has already been cut between the two bars and the Young brothers have a crew of Polynesian pygmies working around the clock to get the new tiki side of the club open within five weeks. The addition will be called the Bamboo Hut, after a popular cocktail lounge that occupied the Hi-Ball space in 1944, and it will boast a 1948 tiki head 6 feet tall. Speaking of clothing, the first run of the Hi-Ball Lounge Collection -- vintage-style bowling shirts made to fit the modern-size (read: larger) man -- has already sold out, and a second line, including a girl's tie-shirt, hit Martini Mercantile last week. The shirts, which are designed and produced by Sam Young and feature the Hi-Ball logo, have been displayed in storefront windows along Broadway in New York and Melrose in Los Angeles, and recently the line was picked up by supersuave distributor Limbo Lounge. This means wishful hipsters all over America are wearing the Hi-Ball name without knowing what the Hi-Ball really is. Of course, Max Young had a happy solution for that. He recently coordinated the club's first compilation. Hi-Ball Lounge Sessions: Volume One features the Chazz Cats, ACME Swing Company, Lee Press-On & the Nails, Steve Lucky & the Rhumba Bums, Clint Baker's New Orleans Jazz Band, and Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers; it's available now in most record stores, at the club, and at www.hiball.com, where you'll find Hi-Ball shirts, Zippos, and money clips as well. It's never too late to get cool. (S.T.)

So That's Why They Call It the Cow Palace Two Sundays ago, just before India announced it had done those underground nuclear tests, Riff Raff watched some of that subcontinent's hottest film stars put on an incinerating show for the 6,000-plus members of the Bay Area South Asian community at the Cow Palace. The Megastar show was megaeverything: megaperformers (at least 30), megacostumes (150 plus), megasequins, megadrums (five onstage), megapricey (tix were $25-75), and megasnacks (pakoras, vegetable biryani, samosas, things involving chickpeas). Before we get mega-carried away, let's just say that Bollywood, the film capital of the world's largest democracy, really knows how to pull off a rip-roaring show. Programs? There weren't any, we were told. "The stars will just get together and see how it turns out," said an insider. The entertainment started at 7:30 p.m. with a song and dance from announcer Sheeba. "Get ready for the magic of the Megastars to blow your mind," she said. We did. They did. The highlights: near-rioting dancers, one of the most eligible bachelors in the world, and "Dancing in the Dark" moments aplenty. Early in the evening a London-based Bhangra singer used a kick-booty beat somewhere between tabla and hip hop to incite the crowd to dance. They responded tentatively at first, with 20 guys gathering at a ramp near the stage. A red-suited usher held them back. Thirty, then 50 guys amassed, swaying from side to side, dancing with arms outstretched. They jumped past the usher, who scrambled to catch them. Someone grabbed his hands and gently danced the usher backward toward the stage. He smiled. Suddenly there were 100 dancers. Two hundred. We couldn't see the usher anymore. Reinforcements were called. The show was stopped. Perhaps as punishment for the enthusiasm, a squeaky-clean duet -- the Donny & Marie of Hindi love songs -- came out. The crowd calmed. Next: Karishma Kapoor, the hottest female star in India today, one of a family of movie stars reaching back to her great-grandfather. "She will drive your heart crazy with frenzy," shouted the announcer. "Frenzy" was indeed the key word. After a few dance numbers, Kapoor scanned the crowd for potential boyfriends. The first candidate -- wearing an outsized Giants shirt and cap -- danced a hip-hop jig with Kapoor onstage. A stray guy in a preppy outfit vaulted past security and dervished toward Kapoor. Dancers wrestled him offstage. The crowd was rowdy again. "Please! Not the duet!" Movie star Salman Kahn arrived in a pod, and hopped out with a toy machine gun to shoot the dancers. (Voted one of the world's 10 most eligible bachelors, Kahn once refused to appear on Oprah -- reason enough to love him.) He dashed around the stage in a carapacelike gold breastplate, then threw it off to reveal his magnificent chest. The crowd screamed. Sari scarves waved. He did a hootchy-kootchy dance with a young woman in a purple velvet outfit, placed her across his shoulders, and walked away. Too much. Another duet. An anesthetizing performance from "India's youngest impersonator." Back into it. Action star Sanjay Dutt peeled off a sequined jacket and hurled it into the crowd. Screams. And so it went to nearly midnight. Another, even more mega Megashow is planned for August. Contact the Bombay Music House in Berkeley for details (510/845-0715). (Lisa Margonelli)

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