Monday, July 30, 2012 | 4:59 p.m.
It’s Friday night in the dimly lit Lounge at the Palms, and there’s a din in the air as patrons sidle up to their tables with a cocktail to help break in the weekend.
And that’s when a petite blonde, adorned with only a G-string, pasties and a martini glass, stumbles out from behind the curtains of the small stage and into the crowd.
“Oh! Excuse me!” she giggles. “I forgot my clothes! Have you seen them?”
She’s left them, apparently, somewhere in the crowd -- first, a tassled bustier atop a table; next, some sequined panties on someone’s chair; purple satin gloves and stilettos beneath some tables; and, finally, a long purple coat onstage.
With a shimmy and a bow, composure replaces the now-clothed dancer’s faux drunken demeanor. As two other costumed beauties join her onstage, it’s clear that this isn’t your average night of entertainment at the Palms.
“We’re not strippers. We’re not a topless revue. We are burlesque -- we are the Lalas!” she announces.
In a city where salacious spectacles are a dime a dozen, Friday night’s debut performance by the Los Angeles-based burlesque troupe elevated the Lalas to a league of their own.
The intimate, interactive show, set to classic rock, has more personality than traditional burlesque revues like “Crazy Horse Paris” and more innovative, unusual routines -- like the reverse striptease -- than the Everyman fantasies of “X Burlesque.”
The five women of the troupe, all of whom dance professionally on shows like “Glee” and on tour with artists like Katy Perry, had the audience laughing as much as they were gawking. There were cheeky routines a’ plenty, such as a Pee Wee Herman-inspired shuffle to the song “Tequila”; there was an act involving a live power tool; and then there were numbers so sultry, like one involving a lace bodysuit and a pair of scissors, you were left in need of a stiff drink.
But one need not have a drink or be a burlesque enthusiast to enjoy the Lalas. One of the great charms of the show is the performers’ effort to bond with the audience. An initial prowl into the crowd, involving a few coy lap dances, had some breaking a sweat, but the ladies were quick to break the ice by playfully tossing garments over people’s heads or pulling them onstage for a hilarious “basics of burlesque” lesson. (The only downside of the intimate venue was that the small stage and low seating obstructed a view you very much don’t want obstructed; be sure to arrive early to stake out a good spot.)
Also of note was the music, which mercifully deviated from cliche stripper-rock classics (there was but one AC/DC song) in favor of less popular, but equally sexy tunes from the likes of Muddy Waters and Tom Waits. And that’s the best thing about the show -- it rises above the lowest common denominator without being pretentious.
Their brand of burlesque is as much about empowerment as it is sex appeal; art as it is entertainment. Above all, however, it’s about the tease; lest this review reveal too much, discover the Lalas in full the last weekend of every month at the Palms.
The Lalas Burlesque Show performs at the Lounge at the Palms the last Friday and Saturday of every month, with shows at 8:30 and 11 each night; tickets are $30 and can be purchased at the Palms' website. Visit TheLalas.com for more information.