The young woman in the micro-miniskirt sitting next to me is raptly attentive to the goings-on in the center of the dance floor.
"What do you think of Kipling?" I ask her. The activity around us calls to mind Kipling's dictum that "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet."
"I can't say," she replies in an irritated tone, "I've never kippled."
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I have another sip of bartender Ben Allen's concoction, a Blue Balls cocktail, and withdraw into myself. All around me, East and West are meeting. The sensuality and squalor of the East entwine about the technology and tipple of the West in a steamy embrace. I am in the dance room of the R&R Lounge & Grill (3512 Main Street, 713-874-1495) on a Tuesday night, which is Gothic Belly Dancing Night. The high-tech sound system booms out goth music with enough bottom to re-create the feel of feeding time in the zoo's lion house. Strikingly colored cocktails flow. A roomy-hipped houri in full belly dance goes about the room, flinging handfuls of rose petals over the heads of men puffing on the wooden stems of hookahs and women dressed in le dernier cri of Trailer Park Temptress style. There is even a low table where one can sit on the floor, reclining on cushions in grand pasha style.
R&R Lounge's Blue Balls cocktail: For the uninitiated, a Blue Balls cocktail is the color of old Windex and tastes just like apple juice, the kind of apple juice that conscientious, SUV-driving moms put in the sippee cups of their above-average children. You never taste the alcohol because of the overwhelming flavor of the Pucker liqueur. After a couple of Blue Balls, you're ready to join the belly dancers on the floor. And that's just what everybody does at the end of the performance Owner Shahab Hashemi has definitely created the sort of place that causes one to mutter, "Houston. Ya gotta love this town!"
One ounce DeKuyper Blue Curaçao liqueur
One ounce DeKuyper Pucker Sour Apple liqueur
Splash of Bacardi 151 overproof rum
Splash of Dole pineapple juice
Shake over ice and strain into a large shot glass. Observe the belly dancers through the translucent blue filter of the cocktail, then down it or sip it as the mood dictates.