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Lava Lounge does Maui for art-gallery fund-raiser.

Hawaiian shirts replace wool sweaters for tonight's Leap Year Luau to benefit Art House. For gallery trustee Jeffrey Gueulette, the timing of the party makes sense. "With winters the way they are in Cleveland, we wondered, what would get people excited?" he says. "We thought of doing something warm and tropical — and having the benefit of an extra day to the year on a Friday, it all came together." To pull it off, artificial palm trees will line Lava Lounge's upstairs party room, where a DJ will spin surf-rock tunes. Club owner Ricardo Sandoval will design a spread of seven island apps, from salmon-rice wraps to pan-roasted chicken in coconut milk to barbecue ribs in apricot-flavored soy sauce. He'll also serve a couple of Hawaiian-themed martinis: the Volcano and the Blue Whale. And the luau will wind down at 10 p.m. with a hula-hoop contest, with prizes going to the contestant who can twirl a hoop on his hips the longest. "We also talked about bringing in a dumpful of sand, but we nixed that idea," laughs Gueulette. "We thought that was getting carried away."In the past, the gallery has thrown Mardi Gras blowouts for its winter benefit. But because February 29 comes only once in four years, the gallery thought it was time to think South Seas. "We want to create something different and fresh," says Gueulette. "I think we've got the combination." The party runs from 7 to midnight tonight at Lava Lounge, 1307 Auburn Avenue in Tremont. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Call 216-398-8556 or visit
Sat., March 1, 7 p.m.-midnight, 2008

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