Brooklyn NY, Saturday, July 21 – The Mermaid Lagoon, a benefit party for the Oceanic Preservation Society and the Gulf Coast cleanup efforts took place at the House of Yes in Williamsburg. The House is a school of aerial arts so full of personalities and stories that is deserves its own book, but on Saturday night it served to host a gathering of angry mermaids. The conceit of the evening was that the ocean home of these mermaids had been gravely threatened by the BP oil spill and they want it fixed. The decor worked with what it was given, an air conditioning-less warehouse crowded with trapeze artist junk. Blue fabrics were draped and twined, lights strung, and a local sculptor contributed large-scale UV reactive foam sea creatures that had an ethereal, if day-glo, effect. The bar was serving alcoholic fruit smoothies, which were reported to be perfect for the temperature indoors.
The “mermaids” of the lagoon, that is, the performers and staff, presented a broad spectrum of entertainment. The night’s opening act was Desert Sin, a non-traditional bellydance group in elaborate costume. The performance seemed to interpret the darker power of the sea, intense stares and rippling arms abounded. Then came a fire-palm dance by burlesque performer Veronica Varlow. Kai Altair, Varlow’s sister and the MC for the night explained that mermaids are famous for seductive dance and song that lures men to their doom and that this particular one was intended for the BP executives. Altair herself performed her mystical/tropical music with great warmth and enthusiasm later on that night. Other entertainment included Cassandra of Lady Circus in a breathtaking glass-walking performance inspired by the Little Mermaid, and Ali Luminescent (Coney Island’s Mermaid of the Year in 2009) on trapeze. To tickle more academic fancies, a doctor of oceanography gave a lecture both on the ramifications of the oil spill and Japanese dolphin fishing in full mermaid attire. Among other prizes, love letters from Ms. Varlow and prints of the resident oceanographer’s photography were raffled off as further fundraising.
All this was well-executed, well-planned, and interspersed with a DJ and dance floor. In terms of value, a science lecture, a dance performance, a dance club, and a concert in one night was more than worth it. But the real culmination of the event came at perhaps 1:30 AM, after all the performances were over. Most attendees were on the sidewalk outside of the club, which is situated in the middle of an industrial park, virtually empty on a Saturday night. While no one seemed quite ready to go home, it was simply too hot to stay indoors. Then, within a minute of the first rumble of lightning, the skies opened up to gave us a flash flood. Everyone indoors, performers included, poured out onto the street and gave up to those screaming laughing, dancing moments summer storms bring. About ten minutes into the storm, Kai Altair came out and ran to her sister who was already reveling in the downpour with her fans. She pointed to the sudden river of rainwater running down the gutter of Maujer St. and said, “Look! She heard us! It’s her, Mama Ocean!”
– Rena Finkel
Kai Altair on left
photos : Knightmare6 Photography