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In loungin' 

Montas International Lounge hosts two live Latin performers for their "Back 2 Back" Christmas Celebration and Benefit Weekend. Our favorite Richmond salseros, Bio Ritmo (www.bioritmo.com), kick off the fiesta on Friday, Dec. 19. This is your chance to pick up their new self-titled CD, an independent release that garnered top honors at this year's Discmakers Independent Music World Series. Bio Ritmo made the first cut out of a field of over 1700 entries; but it was their live performance that swept the finals in New York City, netting them $35,000 in equipment and prizes and proving there is some justice for these nuevo-retro salseros. Their original songs conjure the streetwise aura of '60s and '70s New York, with a Puerto Rican frontman (Rei Alvarez) who is earthy, soulful, and real. Now a 9-piece lineup firing on all cylinders, the band has transformed themselves into a group that indie rockers and salsa dancers can love with equal passion. In between live music sets, local dancers Mambo Dinamico will demonstrate some sexy mambo moves. 10 p.m. $25, $20 members, $15 students & military with ID. Reservations recommended.

If you've recovered by Saturday, Dec. 20, don't miss Charlotte's own Leydy Bonilla, as she and her band bring Dominican merengue and bachata to Montas' stage. At 23, the singer is already minting club hits and breaking into the world of bachata, generally known as a man's genre of "amargue," or bitter heartbreak. She has two CDs out and is just back from a successful European tour. 9:30 p.m.

More info on both live events (and directions) is at www.montaslounge.com. Montas Lounge is also accepting new toys and children's clothing for AIDS orphans in the Dominican Republic. Donated items, as well as proceeds from both shows will benefit the Santo Domingo shelter Hogar Mariloly, just before Christmas. $25, $20 members, $15 students & military. with ID. Holiday attire requested. 361-2390.

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