Riverboat cruises have always been an enchanting idea. Come experience the romance of the river! Take in the spectacular views! Enjoy the dazzling buffet!

Tempting as this may seem, cruising is a usually pastime for people with more patience than a 25-year-old, probably better enjoyed by AARP cardholders and family reunionites than cocktail-swilling nightcrawlers.

So when word of a late-night cruise on the Willamette surfaced--with music care of one of this town's naughtiest lounge singers-- these ears perked up. Depart at 11 o'clock in the evening? Sign me up.

It's not surprising, really, to see more than 100 like-minded people lining up at the Spirit's launching pad just in front of the Salmon Street Fountain on this particular Friday night. This crowd--filled with equal numbers leg-warmer-wearing hipsters, outer-eastside lovers and martini-drinking homos--is a lively bunch. It's clear from our animated conversation that more than a few of us have been warming our livers elsewhere before boarding the ship.

Storm and the Balls appear just as we're embarking on this hour-and-a-half-long trip downriver toward Swan Island, and the Spirit's main room transforms into a floating nightclub. As Storm begins her sexed up, jazzy renditions of some of rock 'n' roll's best songs, the twinkle of downtown Portland becomes a fleeting memory and we sail under the city's bridges and toward the industrial Northwest. The lights of industry aren't nearly as glamorous as the lights of our fair city; no matter, our attention should rightly be focused on tonight's talent.

We continue drinking. As we turn back toward downtown, Storm transforms the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" into one of the most beautiful and depressing songs I've ever heard.

To my surprise, no passenger suffers from seasickness, though this journey atop water has had another effect on a few others: They are lulled to sleep, despite the live music, and despite the shouts of people trying to awake them.

Portland Spirit docks from Waterfront Park between Southwest Front and Salmon streets, 224-3900.

Next Storm and the Balls tour departs Friday, Oct. 17. Boarding at 10:45 pm. $15. 21+.