My boyfriend painted on me in front of strangers for Valentine’s Day

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Lights off. Music on. Shirts off. UV body paint on.

Ah, Valentine’s Day.

While most New York couples spent their Valentine’s evening dressed up in romantic restaurants, my boyfriend and I spent ours dressed down and glowing neon in a dark art studio lit by black lights in Long Island City.

Opened in 2009 by Danny Setiawan, the master painter, and Katya Dorozhkina, the business developer, DenArt is the first retail body-painting studio in New York. It offers private body painting sessions and caters to events and parties, all in the name of empowering people through art and the human body as a new medium. You can even get the finished product captured in a photo shoot. And trust me, you will want to remember this.

“Body painting makes art relevant to our generation,” Setiawan tells Mashable. He says that body art and tattoos are the new medium for young people, since traditional art is sometimes considered too intimidating and “snobbish.”

For Valentine’s Day, DenArt hosted a Paint in the Dark™ UV class for a maximum of 10 lucky and (hopefully) artistically inspired couples.

“For this class particularly, I want the couples to leave feeling creative and also closer to each other,” Setiawan says. “Because being in class for 2 hours, the couples are ‘stuck’ with their partner. This forces them to unplug and actually spend time with each other. It's a great way to strengthen the bond.”

My attempt at 'Finding Nemo.'

Image: Mashable, Kathleen Wong

The glow-in-the-dark aspect was inspired by dining in the dark events, which seeks to heighten human senses. With the class, Dorozhkina says, you’re supposed to experience tactile sensation while flexing your creative muscle, all with your boo. Sounds like a memorable night, right?

First you have to overcome any nerves of being both partially nude around strangers and self-conscious about your artistic ability.

As someone who drew a Windows Paint-esque version of a Finding Nemo scene on my boyfriend’s back, I can attest to those worries.

“I have no idea what to expect,” my boyfriend said, speaking for the two of us, as we sat on the 7 train heading to Long Island City. We trudged through the snow, over a bridge and to what seemed like an abandoned warehouse with a nondescript red door.

“Body painting class,” it read on a piece of taped white paper. Seemed legit.

We took the shaky old elevator with manually closing doors to the fifth floor. When we stepped out, it was like Narnia — if Narnia was a high-fashion photo studio with black leather couches and tall white walls.

Image: Mashable, Kathleen Wong

Other couples began trickling in. Then we all entered studio No. 4 to find a table covered with small containers of various shades of neon paint, cups of water and brushes of all sizes — all the body-painting gear a couple could ever need. Standing black lights scattered the room. After a quick rundown of the how-tos and do nots, Setiawan and instructor Rachel sent us on our way.

My boyfriend and I looked at each other precariously before I offered to model first.

The lights turned off and everyone slowly began shedding clothes

The lights turned off and everyone slowly began shedding clothes. (Underwear stays on, though.)

Fun fact: Black lights show all kinds of lint that lives in your belly button.

Well, here goes.

The brush touched by stomach — it was cold, tingling and soft.

“It feels like a tongue,” my boyfriend accurately described when it was his turn.

Other than trying not to get paint all over our hands (a lost cause), thinking of what to paint was the hardest part.

And word of caution, a live and talking canvas is difficult because they keep turning around and asking, “What are you painting now?” Sometimes we were too focused on painting that we didn’t talk to each other until one of us messed up and laughed.

Because of my artistic inability, I felt like the best thing I could do was a geometric mandala-inspired series of dots and dashes growing from and surrounding my boyfriend’s nipple. I ended up looking like a warrior princess, complete with bright orange arm cuffs and strange lines on my chest.

Other people drew much more convincing animal faces or flowers.

Image: Mashable, Kathleen Wong

After completing a sleeve of orange swirls – a classic Kathleen school notebook doodle — on my boyfriend’s arm, he admitted,

“I sort of want a tattoo now.” That dream was short-lived once I gave him a butterfly tramp stamp.

“I sort of want a tattoo now.” That dream was short-lived once I gave him a butterfly tramp stamp.

By the second half of class, it became less awkward and more fun. I stopped watching what other people were doing and started focusing on what we were painting on each other.

We even broke our no-face rule in favor of cat whiskers.

Before I knew it, it was 11 p.m. The class was over. Attempting to remove the paint, we ended up smearing it all over ourselves with the provided baby wipes. Oh well, that’s what showers are for, right?

Now, no one can deny the perks of a traditional candlelit dinner and chocolate soufflé, but if you ever have an opportunity to slather your significant other in neon paint, you'd better damn take it.

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