Archive for July, 2013

Summer all the time

July 31st, 2013

Summer took a bit of a dive with the gloomy weather this week, but I am happy to report music is alive and well — especially in the summer mix department.

Those of you who are fans of Soundcloud might already know this, but as a 9-to-5er, I am a huge fan of mixtapes. They soothe my commute to Waipio every day, they cheer me on while I’m on the elliptical and they are the soundtrack to all the hours I spend at my desk.

Been there, danced to that, got the shirt!!  Flying Coffin x DELVE Collaboration 2013 (Courtesy photo)

Been there, danced to that, got the shirt! Flying Coffin x DJ Delve Collaboration 2013. (Courtesy photo)

Right now I can't get enough of this DJ Delve mix he made for a recent collaboration with Flying Coffin.

Like Delve, Flying Coffin founder Jason Gomez has a keen eye for great design and has translated that into his brand for the last seven years. The result is a very loyal worldwide fanbase and regular appearances on all of the big streetwear blogs with each new season. Based in Seattle, it’s projects like this one with Delve that keep Gomez, a native of Honolulu, very much rooted.

Currently on the website is a collaboration with The Hundreds that includes a fierce pair of oxfords with matte black metal detail and spikes on the heels, but scroll down in the shop for a selection of tees and tanks depicting one of Hawaiii’s most versatile performing DJs in our scene.

Delve, aka Chris Kam, is a veteran in the scene as part of Architechs Hawaii and also responsible for tons of the best nights out I've ever had. Catch him closing Manifest to a room full of people cheering with each track he throws at them and you'll know exactly what I mean. He continues to flourish with residencies at M Nightclub every Friday and Manifest on Wednesday and Saturday nights.

With this latest mix, he has yet again displayed the art of brilliant track selection. More than 50 tracks are mixed live in one take!

My favorite image of Delve ever. (Courtesy Oz Go)

Since music has been evolving into so many edits, re-works, and remixes I’m not mad at hearing Gwen McCrae scream at me that her feelings for me have always been real in the original “All This Love I’m Giving” into one of the most amazing covers of LCD Soundsystem I have ever heard. He has effectively shown that while some originals shouldn't be touched, there is so much that can be done to make the great even greater.

Listening to this mix is like catching Delve during my favorite time to catch him — opening a room before anyone really gets there. He knows how to bang a club (which is obvious every Friday at M), but it’s this impeccable ear he has that stretches across so many genres and continues to set him apart.

Give it a listen! If the bright, “summer time, all the time” upbeat electro of Viceroy, or the smooth crooning amazingess that is WoodysProduce covering Outkast’s "Hey Ya!" doesn’t brighten your day, then I promise I will never recommend you listen to anything again ever.

SPEAKING OF crooning, tonight, July 31, Richard Cheese is back in Hawaii to perform at The Republik. His loungey covers of popular music roared through the "SKYLiNE" era quite regularly, but it was his support for my website during those days that really made me a fan. The fact he even took the time to keep up with life in Honolulu when he was still a big deal Vegas performer left a huge impression with me.

Funny guy Richard Cheese performs every song we know Wednesday night at The Republik (Courtesy of Jaymi Britten)

Funny guy Richard Cheese performs every song we know July 31 at The Republik. (Courtesy Jaymi Britten)

As the only person to ever “guest blog” on my website when we crossed paths in the airport back in 2007, it’s his sense of humor that shines the most. The guy is freaking hilarious. This show will have a trifecta of everything I love about concerts: music, comedy and knowing every word to every song. That’s seriously the best!

Growing up in the gloomy Pacific Northwest, I learned how to make the most out of a rainy day. I know I might sound a bit too happy-happy-joy-joy, but trust me, it's all these little things that add up to overall happiness.

Music, laughter, and a nice cold cocktail will do just fine until the sun comes back.


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Interns to the rescue

July 24th, 2013

It was a dark day at work a few weeks ago when I learned our marketing intern had gotten a full-time job elsewhere and I would need to find a replacement.

BAMP Project and The Republik marketing and promotions director Flash Hansen with the BAMP Army. (Courtesy photo)

I had finally found my rhythm to be able to spend the time I needed with her and effectively utilize her awesome and enthusiastic skill-set when I got the news. No more neatly organized binders left on my chair or smiley faces in e-mails.

I really, really miss her.

When I pulled together my birthday pool party at the Modern Honolulu (then the Edition) in 2010, I was also lucky enough to have someone working with me that day.

I wasn't as skilled at delegating back then, so he just stuck by my side the entire time, doing his best to remain one step ahead of me. By doing things like checking on my boyfriend and not even batting an eye at the girls from Michelle's Bar & Lounge occupying my daybed, he had completely won me over by the end of the event. These types of people are extremely rare.

I have seen people expertly pull off arming themselves with interns recently. One of those people is Flash Hansen at The Republik, who re-introduced the "Iron Bar" contest concept and expanded it to include rounds for not only bartenders, but barbacks, servers, security and — beginning Aug. 6 with "Iron Disc Jockey" — club DJs, too.

The "Iron Barback" contest was by far the most grueling event I have ever seen as far as execution. It required 40 tires to be set up and stricken each week as an obstacle course with various bar setups. Each week.

DJ and producer Mike "Mike D" Adachi with his invitation to the "Iron Disc Jockey" competition, which runs every Tuesday in August. (Courtesy photo)

Barbacks who were selected were invited in person with a backpack of gifts, which made a huge impact. It took an army to compile, confirm and invite the selected list. Follow-ups with people in the service industry can be grueling at best, as many work late in to the night and don’t spend as much time during the day looking at their e-mail or answering their phones.

What’s the secret to arming your team?

“It needs to be a two way street (and) not slave labor,” Hansen said. “You need to realize these people are all temporary, so accept them moving on to bigger and better things, hopefully in part due to the fact that they interned for you.

“You need to be very up front and realistic with your expectations and theirs. “Both sides usually want too much,so you need to manage everyone's expectations.”

When Fresh Cafe owner Tiffany Tanaka needed some extra help, she posted an ad that generated more than 40 resumes. She ended up bringing in 10 interns, and her program has expanded with the assistance of Dayna Kalakau to create a twice-a-week class called the School of Fresh.

A social media panel earlier this month at Fresh Cafe's School of Fresh featured the author and fellow social media experts John Garcia, Toby Tamaye, Gene Park and Star-Advertiser Entertainment Editor/Online Jason Genegabus. (Courtesy Dayna Kalakau)

“They all bring a cool, unique perspective to the cafe and to the group.” said Kalakau. “Working with them has been a lot of hard work, but so much fun.”

In addition to the bi-weekly classes, interns are required to each host a panel discussion. The panels offer a unique perspective as they bring in experts in their respective fields to engage with both the interns and general public.

I make it a point to ask anyone I see who is successful in their work what their top pointers are, and every single person said learning how to effectively delegate is key. The good news is, there are many up-and-comers out there who want to learn, and the best way to do that is to get in the trenches and just do it. The trick is to manage both your time and their expectations.

“More than anything communicate and be appreciative.” said Hansen. “These poor people are usually working for love and passion. That is rare enough in this world already, but they are also doing it for no financial gain. You need to always be cognizant of that fact.”


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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Shedding more than weight

July 17th, 2013

It’s weird how a random text can change your life.

I know for my sister Honolulu Pulse blogger and rockstar musician Erin Smith, it wasn't meant to be so heavy. We were supposed to take a simple trip to the mall to hang out and try on clothes.

At BeBe with rockstar Erin Smith in my standard uniform of a grey v-neck t-shirt (Courtesy of Christa Wittmier)

At BeBe with rockstar Erin Smith in my standard uniform of a grey v-neck t-shirt (Courtesy of Christa Wittmier)

What she didn't realize is I recently lost a lot of weight and suffer from self-image issues that leave me not able to really shop for myself, or even know what clothes to wear.

Eight years ago, I was at Bebe every Friday to pick up a new outfit for the weekend. But a few years (and Chinatown bars) later, I was just pulling on a good pair of jeans and Nike SB Classics to go out.

Why? It was never about me. I wasn't trying to be anything but my own, comfortable self. All I wanted to do was lurk everyone else, not be the person being lurked, so to speak.

Also, I never had the confidence to strut my stuff. I got my boobs when I was in fourth grade. That is the age when boys don’t know what to do, so they make fun of you. I was living abroad at the time and the German boys at the pool learned how to say, “Give me a bottle of milk from your chest,” just so they could taunt me. It’s why I still have poor posture to this day.

Self-image is a very powerful thing, and I’m only realizing now after trying on tight dress after tight, colorful dress last weekend with Erin that I need to do something about it.

My poor friends. They have all done their best to let me be me, using gentle encouragement whenever I actually did dress up.

“You look so great in a dress!”

“You should wear a dress more often!”

I appreciated the positive feedback, but it wasn't getting through my thick skull. I just wanted to be functional.

So, I spent a few hundred dollars at Bebe with Erin. I even wore one of the dresses the next day. The feedback was all positive and I was able to bank it into a well of confidence that I should have had six months ago when I went from a size 12 to a size four.

It’s funny how losing weight is easier than programming your mind to be confident.

On the red carpet in my standard t-shirt and jeans. (Courtesy Elliot Takane)

On the red carpet in my standard t-shirt and jeans. (Courtesy Elliot Takane)

For anyone feeling like they would be happier having lost a few pounds, I’ll tell you how I did it. The main factor was an iPhone app called LoseIt. There are many out there that do the same thing, but I liked LoseIt the best because they have “motivator” groups you can join to stay on track. Since the weight loss is such a simple formula of burning more calories than you consume, it’s so like many of us to over-complicate things.

The easiest way I found is to set a goal. LoseIt makes it so very simple. Once you start tracking everything you are eating you already will lose some weight. You just need to focus. You need to really want to do it.

Remember, your mind is so very powerful. You really can do anything you put your mind to.

Also, get one of those Hydro Flask water bottles and keep it filled. Drink water all day. When you want to snack, drink that water. The food intake, of course, needs to be healthier, but weekly trips to a farmers market not only save money, but they're also a soothing break from the stress of everyday life.

Left: at the Diane Von Furstenberg Ala Moana Opening in 2011 Right: At the Moana Surfrider BrunchON 7/12/13 (Images Courtesy Mark Ramelb and Dayna Kalakaua)

At the Diane Von Furstenberg Ala Moana store opening in 2011, left, and the Moana Surfrider on Sunday, July 12. (Courtesy Mark Ramelb and Dayna Kalakau)

And as much as people laugh about my fixation with kale, it’s one hell of a vegetable. It’s so abundant and powerful and rich with vitamins, and tossing a pan of it with some olive oil every night for dinner with some turkey or tilapia was a feast.

The workouts are not as hard as you think. I put them in my calendar as meetings that I scheduled around. Saturday and Sunday mornings I would wake up and go straight to the Waikiki 24 Hour Fitness. The view from their cardio machines of the beach was like I was at the beach instead of the gym.

During the week, running out of my office at 10 a.m. for the Mililani 24 Hour Fitness to zone out to music on an elliptical for 45-50 minutes as often as I could eased so much stress that I found it to become very addictive.

The trick is good music. Look up Mick Boogie or BeeFowl’s "Indie Anna Bones" mixes or follow my “Cleaning or Running” playlist on Spotify if you aren't sure where to start. It’s a lot easier than shopping.

As for shopping, I still don’t know where to start. I have no idea what clothes look good on me and most often I will spend a few hundred dollars on things that will just sit in my closet until I throw them out to make room for more heather grey v-neck t-shirts.

I am trying though, and thanks to friends like Erin I have the encouragement that is so necessary. Thank you sis.


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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Keep calm and dream on

July 10th, 2013

A successful dream board Workshop at R/D in Kakaako. (Courtesy photo)

A successful dream board Workshop at R/D in Kakaako. (Courtesy photo)

Dream big. It’s not necessarily the mindset I’m accustomed to. My problem is the anxiety that sets in once I commit to a project.

Stepping anywhere outside my comfort zone seriously freaks me out. The risks involved bring me so much stress, my chest experiences physical pain. It’s just not healthy. So you can bet when I see other people taking risks to make things happen, I raise my hands in support as high as they will possibly go.

Mostly what’s holding me back from dreaming big is my own damn self. I do realize this. It’s sad because that should be the easiest part to conquer, that fear. The do-ers will tell you fear is their biggest motivator.

I can see why so many people are interested in Tiare Thomas’ dream board workshops. Participants assemble a collection of photos, artwork and written affirmations of their dreams and desires to help motivate themselves.

Once you can get over yourself and learn how to focus on what you want, well, that is pretty much all it takes. The mind is such an incredibly powerful thing.

Thomas is a stylist who is very well known in the scene as a beautiful ray of sunshine, always happy and usually glowing. I absolutely love bumping in to her. It's hard to believe only four years ago, she was in that dark underbelly of self-doubt many of us are very familiar with. She was at a friend's house to make her first dream board with Noelani Love, another young woman going through a difficult time in her life.

“We were both young women under 27 years old going through divorces," said Thomas. "We were starting our lives over and had no sense of direction when it came to our career and life style paths.”

Tiare Thomas helps dreams become reality. (Courtesy photo)

Tiare Thomas helps dreams become reality. (Courtesy photo)

Skip ahead to the present, where Love has made a major leap of faith and brought her vision to life with Noelani Studio in Haleiwa. It was a considerably large risk, but one that has already brought her much success with a regular schedule of yoga, art and dance classes along with a place where she can sell her beautiful Noelani Designs jewelry. It is here where Thomas will host her next "Dream Board" workshop on July 20.

If a North Shore retreat is a little too adventurous, there will be other workshops around town; Thomas has hosted them at Collins & 8th, R/D, and Fresh Café in the past.

"(After) a year of working (with) family and friends, I decided to hold workshops so I could reach out to people who are not in my immediate circle," said Thomas. "My mission is to share dream boarding with as many people as possible in hopes of helping them live happier and more balanced lives."

Follow Thomas on Twitter to find out more. And once you meet her – one of the most radiant, happy and loving creatures I have ever met – you will be inspired to balance your life and focus where you need to.

I can’t wait to do mine.

A BIG (little) dreamer I love bumping in to around town is young Aidan James. I see him pretty regularly with musician Jeremy Cheng at RumFire Waikiki on Mondays blowing away the crowd with his pint sized talent.

“I’ve known him since I was 8 years old,” said Cheng, 11, while I downed my Monday usual of a spicy macaroni and cheese with a glass of milk before my weekly DJ gig at RumFire. The Monday crowd is mostly made up of Cheng's local fans and lately has included more and more hotel guests, which builds a very nice atmosphere those who do visit.

Chatting with a smiley Aidan James at Rumfire (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

Chatting with a smiley Aidan James at RumFire Waikiki. (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

When I asked James about his ultimate dream goal as a musician, his whole demeanor lit up considerably.

“Playing Madison Square Garden,” he said. He also would love to open for Bruno Mars. I don’t doubt for a second he will get there.

I love talking to James as he takes quite a while to come out of his shell, but when he does, he gets just as excited as I do about just about everything. He loves covering popular music including the Lumineers, Bruno Mars, Maroon Five and Rihanna. (I watched the entire room go still during his chillingly flawless rendition of Rihanna’s “Stay” during a recent performance.)

James plays the Hard Rock Waikiki at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 14, and I’m pretty much planning to go just to hear that song again. It’s perfect. You can also catch him at the 2013 Ukulele Festival on July 21 at Kapiolani Park.

THIS WEEKEND marks the first of hopefully many more daytime parties at the Moana Surfrider. “Keep Calm and Brunch On” will be a nice break from the craziness of Honolulu's nightlife scene, with ridiculously affordable pricing and the gloriously relaxing setting of the Moana's Beach House restaurant, which I often refer to as the “Hamptons of Waikiki.”

For all those who power through the anxiety and stress of doing what you do, I just want to say thank you. This event will hopefully have many of you finally able to eat and relax on a Sunday afternoon. You deserve it.


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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Chatting with Cherry Lei

July 3rd, 2013

Cherry Lei, a shining star in the scene. (Courtesy of  Chester Lee Dauz)

Cherry Lei, a shining star on the scene. (Courtesy Chester Lee Dauz)

There are some people who work so hard they make it look easy. Branding yourself is a fine line between gaining acceptance from the masses and becoming a bit too exasperatingly in-your-face.

For local go-go dancer and model Cherry Lei, what she has been able to build in a short amount of time speaks highly of her work ethic — but more importantly, her positive outlook. She knows that in order to succeed, you must take your work very seriously. No drama, no attitude.

Hawaii-based go-go dancer and model Cherry Lei. (Courtesy photo)

Hawaii-based go-go dancer and model Cherry Lei. (Courtesy photo)

After just three years, she is now in high demand and I love bumping in to her while out and about. I see Cherry Lei regularly at Vice Nightclub and Ginza Nightclub along with a lot of the larger concerts. She led the go-go troupe when I was stage manager for the recent Big Sean concert, making sure all the girls knew what they were doing and where to go. It left a lasting impression. I am a fan.

Cherry Lei stands out on any entertainment bill, and she is a go-to for events because promoters know she is a huge draw, having taken first place in modeling contests at the 2012 SPOCOM as well as the 2011 MMA Expo. She even has a T-shirt collaboration with local lifestyle icons Puffer Hawaii. This month, she will travel to Seattle as an official go-go dancer for "Hot Import Nights" and you can catch her tonight on stage at Aloha Tower Marketplace during the second "Legion of Boom" concert featuring Luminox and Trinidad James.

Quite the resume for someone who has been dancing for only three years. When I asked her what her mantra is, she said, "Baby steps. It’s always taken me a while to get where I want to be, but I always get there eventually and it seems to just fall in to place. I believe it’s because I take my time and make sure every step I take is a good one to take."

Born in Honolulu, the Hilo High School and University of Hawaii at Hilo graduate Lei is back on Oahu for now, but she is also aware of the bigger picture.

"I definitely take go-go as more than dancing," she said. "I've learned it’s an opportunity to put yourself out there and show people who you are. It opens doors to opportunities you never thought you would have."

Are you a dancing machine who thinks you have what it takes? Just know there are opportunities for anyone who can remain focused.

"It’s not just about dancing. You need to network and build strong relationships with people in the industry." Cherry Lei said. "People need to like you and want to work with you."

This is sound advice for any industry, I've learned. Just remember, how you treat others makes a lifelong impression — no matter where they fall in the food chain. People move around professionally quite often, so it’s better to offer the same respect and courtesy to everyone.

Ginza Nightclub welcomes late night party people on Wednesdays, starting this week. (Star-Advertiser File)

Ginza Nightclub welcomes late night party people on Wednesdays, starting this week. (Star-Advertiser File)

TONIGHT, July 3, is the launch of a new summer party at Ginza for the late night Wednesday crowd. I've noticed the flow for a Wednesday night out these days is to start early in Chinatown, then migrate late to Safehouse at The Republik and Bar Seven. Ginza will now be there for you in full nightclub mode from 1 to 4 a.m. to cap the night off for those who aren't ready to call it quits. Just make sure you aren't wearing shorts!

I ALSO wanted to send a special congratulations to Foundation and Spells for pulling off an amazing show last weekend. They effectively brought together the old "Wonderlounge" crowd from the W Honolulu with their headliner Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation.

Komo Low's always smiling face. Image by Christa Wittmier

Komo Low's always smiling face. (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

The room was packed with more people than expected, extending from the Safehouse side all the way into The Republik performance space. While it did create an awkward bottleneck and had many wondering why he wasn't on the main stage, the crowd kept the energy positive and packed the small dance floor with their hands waving in support the entire night.

It was definitely one of the best nights out I've had in a while, and of course the music was perfect. While Komo Low, one of the "Wonderlounge" pioneers and huge fan of Thievery Corporation who brought Garza to Hawaii 10 years ago and has since passed on, his presence was felt by many of his old supporters who showed up on Saturday.

R.I.P. old friend.


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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