Archive for December, 2014

Best of 2014

December 31st, 2014

Looking back through the year I definitely saw a lot of great hits. The Giants won the World Series, UH won a few football games, gas prices went way down and Honolulu's nightlife didn’t collapse.

We did good.

Looking back through the year, it was a series of many greats that make me feel so very lucky to be able to live in such a snug, yet thriving city.

Emotionally, I would say this was a fantastic year for me. I took ownership of decisions I made and it changed everything. You could say I stopped trying to please everyone. I realized you can do everything for other people and that doesn’t mean anyone will ever be there for you if you need them. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s actually human nature. Humans fundamentally try to get the best they can for themselves using whatever means necessary.

Still, that’s no reason to spin my wheels. I’m just more aware of my actions and who I am looking out for. There are so many people who work hard and deserve to be recognized, and there a lot of others that will take take take until you are sucked dry leaving you feeling empty. Once we can see clearly who those people are and step around them to the virtuous ones what a beautiful city this can be.

So anyway, here are the greatest standouts this year, according to me.

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2013Chitty Chitty Bang Bang celebrated its first anniversary at The Republik in July.


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang celebrated its first anniversary at The Republik in July.


Sure, it’s cute and eye-catching to have a ladies night with scantily clad women on the flier, but how about a ladies night where the women are also the DJs providing the entire night’s soundtrack?

Bravo to ChittyBang, last year’s Best Party for paving the way for many others to follow suit and see how amazing it can be.

Congratulations also to Addiction Nightclub who started a new monthly this year featuring an all-female guest DJ lineup for their So Fancy! every second Thursday. It not only brought in a whole new crowd to the club, it switched up the music programming from pop hits and hip-hop to more house and dance music. It also provided a memorable night for some KTUH DJs who were given an opportunity to play one of Honolulu’s hottest clubs (anyone who caught Jem’s set is probably still reeling).

It’s a baby step to widen that mainstream gap, but also a brave one for any club to take a couple of steps outside the box.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Christa is featured regularly as a guest DJ at both parties.)

HONORABLE MENTION: Blowout Thursdays at eleven44

Promoted by Amp Industries and Angel Deihl, eleven44 built a tremendously fun ladies night complete with a beauty bar and live photo shoots, while also providing a showcase for up-and-coming house DJs to play out on one of the best sound systems in Honolulu.

The best part? Their crowd of regulars is two-thirds women that are fun and love to dance. I call it the city’s best un-kept semi-secret, but expect this party to blow up even more in 2015. Their strict music programming will keep the mainstreamers away and the women happy and dancing. I love it.

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2013Riana Stellburg, aka DJ Tittahbyte.


Riana Stellburg, aka DJ Tittahbyte.


Bringing out the Soulection crew, consistently putting on amazing shows all year, befriending the most elusive, yet most respected electronic musician that resides in Hawaii (Mr. Aaron Carmack), and helping to start the Green Leaf Check podcast, Stellburg hasn’t just pushed the boundaries of talent — she is on a whole new level.

All while helping to run McCully streetwear shop About the Goods and making a huge name for herself as a multi-faceted DJ. I would ask her where she finds the time to do it all, but I totally get her. There are just some people who are wired that way and it’s their calling to do as much as possible.

Thank you, Riana for all that you do for this city.


Up and coming fashionista, blogger and never compromising disco kid, Gnaraly reminds a lot of the older generation of partiers of the thirtyninehotel crew. She was there back then; snapping away and casually will make posts to remind everyone of that spirit that can never be replaced. You might have seen her spinning all vinyl at the Iron DJ, Bevy Bar, or guest slots at eleven44. Watch this one in 2015.

Bussaband Ent is the crew that ran in last week’s SuperCity. Huge things for them this coming year!


The Electronic Boat Cruise party aboard the Waikiki Ocean Club (formerly known as the Red Dolphin) can fit a few hundred people. I can’t even tell you how many promoters have sucked in their teeth after getting so excited to try to do a rager on that boat, only to find out the steep price tag. You would have to sell tickets for over $60 to even break even — and who is paying that kind of money for shows anyway?

Enter Matt Baumer. He has now made two attempts to bring the EDM crowd out to sea and while they could do with another couple hundred people onboard, the parties are getting great reviews. There is so much potential with the beautiful top deck, the grimy bottom deck and so much room to hang out. I’m hoping for more of these parties with more people in 2015.

Buho Cantina’s patio is perfection. It’s exactly the rooftop vibe we’ve all been waiting for. The fact that owner Hide Sakurai and marketing manager Justin Mizfuka went to Los Angeles and were deeply inspired by what they’re doing at the Ace Hotel only means they are planning on bringing a major wave of cool to Waikiki. The ambiance is unbeatable; now it’s just time to start getting those parties going regularly.


I’m not talking about EDM, which is to house music what the Kardashians are to television. It’s okay that we haven’t caught on to what the rest of the world outside America has known for decades; it’s only just starting to penetrate New York’s nightlife so it may never reach our shores in Hawaii.

Still, the fact that we have an underground scene that has been keen to this for many years and a venue like Asylum Afterhours has made a name for itself across the globe as the top spot for deep house and techno six years strong is something that should have everyone holding their head high. This is huge, whether we know it or not.

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2014Human Lion opened for Young the Giant earlier this month.


Human Lion opened for Young the Giant earlier this month.


Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s performance on "Saturday Night Live" during its Thanksgiving episode will forever go down in history as the night my heart swelled as I realized popular music has a chance in these coming years. Bravo to both of them for bringing back such a beautiful style of music that is so authentic and soulful. Real instruments, real singing, real dancing and a real performance.

Landon Tom was one of the city’s greatest musicians as part of The Jump Offs. He has taken some years to work and go to school, but when you’ve got something inside you that needs to be expressed sometimes the only thing left to do is just that.

His brand new band, known for two seconds as Only Child and now called Human Lion, has already performed at two sold-out shows opening for Young the Giant at The Republik.

He isn’t slowing down any time soon. That is, as long as his bandmates don’t plan on moving away.


» High School-ish Sayings: "You can't sit with us." "My Friends are better than yours."


» Internet Ranters: If you can do it better, then you do it. If you have time to rant, you aren’t using your time wisely.

» Fights: Destroying parties and clubs when those animal instincts take over is not cool. Enough is enough, people. Clubs and bars need to do more 86ing. With photos. With the Internet, can't we put some of these troublemakers on blast for once and for all?

» Relocaters: It’s a given that it will happen, but 2014 was the year that too many people in my inner circle moved on to bigger cities to be the amazing people they are. It’s made some of my colleagues look at me to see if I’m next.

The answer to that is a huge no. I moved to Hawaii after already living 100 lifetimes and my only goal was to make a life here. That is good enough for me. For now.


Even though this small, stylish club was opened by nightlife veteran Aurora Group (Bar35, Du Vin) we weren’t certain about their future over there on Bethel Street as they opened with wavering legs trying to find their place in the nightlife scene.

After a few attempts at giving people what they thought they wanted they connected with some forward thinkers who are giving people what they need. It’s working. Congratulations guys.

Here’s the rest. Lots of ties this year which is a good thing. There’s room for all this greatness.

» Best Bar: Bevy

» Best New Bar: Honolulu Beerworks

» Best Nightclub: M Nightclub

» Best Monthly Party: ChittyBang> at The Republik and Party After Art at eleven44 (tie)

» Best Weeknight Weekly: #IN Mondays at Lulu's Waikiki and Karma Mondays at Club 939 (tie)

» Best Weekend Weekly The Manor at M Nightclub

» Best Fancy Party: Dinner en Blanc and the Eurocinema Hawaii Awards Gala (tie)

» Best Block Party: Honolulu Night Market and Hallowbaloo (tie)

» Best Promoter (Individual): Judah Oschner

» Best Promoter (Group): Tantriq Entertainment and Level H Promotions (tie)

» Best VIP Host: Bryan Simpson

» Best Door Girl: Dayna Kalakau

» Best DJ: Delve and XL (tie)

» Best Band: EMKE and The Tigers From Niger (tie)

» Best Sound System: eleven44

» Best VIP: M Nightclub

» Best Staff: Hawaiian Brian’s

» Best Graphic Design: M Nightclub and Fresh Cafe Downtown (tie)

» Best Interior Design: Fresh Cafe Downtown

» Best First Friday Spot: Nextdoor

» Best First Friday Art: Human Imagination

» Best After 2 a.m.: Ginza Nightclub and Asylum Afterhours (tie)

» Best Promotion: Iron Bar Series at The Republik

» Best Parking: Waterfront Plaza

» Best Concert Venue: The Republik

» Best Happy Hour: M Nightclub

» Best Dinner: Livestock Tavern

» Best Video: Hawaii Summer Boat Party by Noilbee

» Best Happy Spoof Video: Maui “24 Hours of Happy”

» Best Clothing: Claymore Minds

» Best Stylist: Barrio Vintage and Aly Ishikuni (tie)

» Best Shop: Owens & Company and Mori by Art+Flea (tie)

» Best Shopping Event: Art+Flea

» Best Instagram: @Kaimanimal

» Best Twitter: @flashee

» Best It-Girl: Nara Nellis

» Best It-Guy: Lance Arinaga

» Best Place to Meet Your Husband/Wife: Art After Dark and JJ Dolan’s (tie)

» Best Place to Meet Your Next Date (Non-Tinder): Art+Flea

» Best Place to Take Your Tinder Date: Cafe Maru

» Best Place to Take Your Date (Non-Tinder): Doraku Kakaako

» Best Place to Pre-Game (Non-Fancy): The Row Bar

» Best Place to Pre-Game (Fancy): The Study at The Modern Honolulu

» Best Sunset Cocktails: Wai'olu Ocean View Lounge at Trump Waikiki

» Best Rooftop: Buho Cantina


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.

Bussaband gets Oahu off the wall

December 24th, 2014

A cute interaction last month with someone on Twitter led me to discover Bussaband Entertainment, and I was left feeling completely inspired.

LUCIUS CHARACTERBussaband Ent usually does one or  two parties a month, but has plans to do much more in 2015


Presented by Bussaband Entertainment

» Where: Boda Cafe, 1215 Hopaka St.

» When: 9 p.m. Wednesday

» Cost: $40 ($30 advance tickets and bottle service options also available); 18+

» Info: (808) 499-9440

It’s okay to not know everything. There’s always a lot left to learn. Still, I was a bit surprised to see this relatively new promotions crew — that’s been killing it at Boda Cafe and most recently The Fix — flying under my radar for so long.

At least I found out about them when I did, on the cusp of a New Year’s Eve party with a comparatively moderately priced cover charge and a cash prize for the best dressed at the party. I love it.

I talked to the three-person crew about their intentions and the more I learned, the more I liked.

Bussaband is Nkosei "Trini" Gravesande, originally from Trinidad but who has lived in Hawaii since high school; model Makeda Morris, who is originally from Memphis but grew up in Chinatown on Oahu; and Jacoby Hindrick, who moved to Hawaii from California about eight months ago.

LUCIUS CHARACTERTrini (yellow shirt) believes in creating it for yourself and others will follow suit.


Trini Gravesande, left, believes in creating opportunities for yourself and others will follow.

Gravesande has been throwing parties for years in community centers, on military bases and even in his mom’s garage. He learned how to DJ as a kid and now works with Morris, who many would recognize from working the door at Nextdoor or modeling in Chinatown fashion shows.

She intrigued me the second I met her, carrying herself in a quiet, confident way that draws you in, wanting more. Finding out she is part of a promotions team that’s already killing it made my year.

“Hawaii is fun, Hawaii is also taken for granted,” said Gravesande. “We live on this beautiful island and every sunset and sunrise is astonishing but no one ever wants to look. I think nightlife here is taken the same way.

“There are a number of great things that go down every night, for all sorts of people and tastes but people start looking at their friends that are in other places like L.A. or N.Y.C. and get antsy. They're so focused on watching the next man that they don't realize they have a world of opportunity staring at them.

LUCIUS CHARACTERBussaband Ent's parties go, as they say, off.


Bussaband Entertainment's parties go, as they say, off.

“That's exactly what our company is grounded in; you focus on doing it for yourself then everyone around you will start shifting into the same wavelength. We saw that there was a need for a nightlife scene that you can come to without knowing anyone and still have fun in. You don't have to try to out-dress anyone, out-dance anyone, out-drink anyone; just turn up and do it for you.

“When we're all enjoying the party for ourself, we all end up enjoying each other, it's like harmony.”

New Year’s Eve brings what they are billing as “Honolulu’s wildest New Year’s Eve party.” Looking at photos on Instagram from their previous events, I don't doubt this for a second.

“The parties in Trinidad are always fun,” Gravesande said. “No one's concerned with trying to out-do the next man, trying to start drama or instigate. You go and you enjoy the music; you don't stand on the wall, you dance. You enjoy yourself and you enjoy the atmosphere.

“That's something we always want to be a part of, no matter where we are; Trinidad, East or West coast, Hawaii, there's always a capacity for a good time. We won't be dissatisfied because there isn't a place honoring that already made for us. We're gonna make it.”

Watch out 2015, Bussabent Entertainment has arrived.


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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Maui's 'Plate Lunch' special

December 10th, 2014

Since moving to Honolulu there’s been so much rhetoric I’ve forgotten from other places I’ve lived. I never say I’m chuffed to bits when I’m extremely happy, people I don’t like are never described as wankers anymore, and my questions don’t end in a higher pitched voice.

COURTESY CLIPS HAWAII A painting by "Gonzo" Mark Gonzales, one of the most influential names in skateboarding will be for sale on Saturday at Clips


A painting by Mark "The Gonz" Gonzales, one of the most influential names in skateboarding, will be on sale Saturday at Clips.

It’s embarrassing how easily I will pick up and mimic other people’s pronunciation without even realizing it. I know for a fact it's extremely annoying.

You know what phrase I love hearing in Hawaii the most? Automatic. As someone who tends to worry more than what is considered average, I just love the way so much generosity and certainty can be wrapped up so neatly in to one precise word.

Zen Yoshifuku, North Shore surf talisman and shop manager of the new Clips Hawaii, sent me some information on an art show called “Automatic” a few weeks ago and I starred it in my e-mail immediately. Not just because of the name; I also saw some key names involved that make this huge.

Curated by Maui brothers Gregg and Cory Kaplan — otherwise known as Plate Lunch — the show features artwork from some extremely reputable names in the world of surf and skate. The fact they even have access to these people is one thing; their response to the group show inquiry (“Automatic”) is another. It says a lot about the Plate Lunch duo’s place in this world.

“Gregg and Cory have the best vibes and you can just tell they’re genuine guys,” Yoshifuku said. “Ever since meeting them early this year I wanted to work with them any time possible.”


Curated by Plate Lunch

» Where: Clips Hawaii, 822 Kaheka Street

» When: 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday

» Cost: Free admission, artwork ranges from $50-$1,000,000

» Info: (808) 941-6777,

This must have been the impression they have left on others as well for such an immediate response and this wonderful group art show coming up Saturday at Clips.

Clips is a surf and skate shop opened in April by Aloha Rag Vice President Makoto Kambara after the high-end urbanite boutique quietly closed its doors on Kapiolani Blvd. His new surf boutique specializes in premium surfboard brands like Channel Islands, Firewire and JS Industries. For apparel they carry brands that include Aloha Sunday, Plate Lunch and Salvage Public.

Saturday’s art show will feature the work of six artists from Japan, Boston, Los Angeles, New York and Hawaii, including skateboard pro Mark “The Gonz” Gonzales, one of the most influential skaters of all time. If you have a friend, son, brother, cousin, sister or daughter who is into skateboarding, an original piece of art by The Gonz would be priceless to them.

COURTSEY CLIPS HAWAIIWork by Yusuke Hanai who has worked with Burton and Beams. "Yusuke is the man! Such a nice humble guy, He's been very helpful over the past couple years of traveling to Japan. Very talented illustrator, painter, and graphic artist. Stoked to have him as part of the Plate Lunch Ohana." Gregg Kaplan said


Work by Yusuke Hanai, who has worked with Burton and Beams. "Yusuke is the man! Such a nice humble guy, He's been very helpful over the past couple years of traveling to Japan. Very talented illustrator, painter, and graphic artist. Stoked to have him as part of the Plate Lunch Ohana," said Gregg Kaplan.

“I met Mark on a recent skate trip,” Gregg Kaplan said. “I’m stoked on everything that he’s done for skateboarding and art, he’s a big inspiration.”

Born and raised on Maui, they both went to school at King Kekaulike. They have been surfing and skating since day one.

“Surf, skate, create,” Kaplan said. “We've always been encouraged to be creative and have always made art, but I didn't really start making art until around 2004. Willie Nelson has one of my first real pieces that I painted of our mutual friend Roger.”

Gregg has done some very memorable projects with Vans including a signature Vans + Gregg Kaplan shoe collection, the 2014 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing poster and last year’s Vans World Cup of Surfing design.

“That was the first project of that size and scope.” he said. “It was an amazing experience to work with a good crew and make rad stuff.”

I haven't met the Kaplan brothers in person, but their reputation precedes them as some of the most globally connected yet still grounded and humble artists in the world of surf and skate. Their website has some incredible projects and designs showcasing their roots and displaying their massive gratitude and passion for life. Their "Ohana" is an impressive collective of artist/athletes.

I have a feeling this is the kind of show you would want to go to just to meet the Kaplan brothers and soak up some of their positive energy. Buying some amazing art would be an added bonus!


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.

Be the change

December 3rd, 2014

It’s been a long time since I’ve been involved in any major community outreach projects. Too long.

This past Thanksgiving eve, I bumped in to some nightlife friends who said they were going to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving. In my head I thought about standing in a row serving at a soup kitchen — but the reality turned out to be so much more hard work. As a result, I felt much more of a sense of fulfillment than I originally expected.

I remember being at Palama Settlement with my co-workers a few years ago sorting and handing out food for the Hawaii Foodbank. It was devastating to see families trying to take more than we were giving and having to tell them no. Last week, the hardest part was handing meals we prepared to kids.

“There’s a little girl over there under that plumeria tree,” said the first person we found at Mother Waldron Neighborhood Park in Kakaako, making sure we didn’t miss anyone.

I didn’t want to show any emotion, but it was hard.

"What church are you guys from?" someone asked us at Kaka'ako Waterfront Park. No church, we answered. We're just here to help.

While there was still a significant feeling of helplessness, this little bit we did to help on the holiday made a difference, and now I can’t wait for Christmas.

CARL RICHARDSSome of the Thanksgiving crew after a long day of work ended at A'ala Park


Some of the Thanksgiving crew after a long day of work at A'ala Park.

Carl Richards has participated in this type of grassroots outreach on his own for more than four years, and not just on holidays. When he moved to Honolulu he had $500 and lived in his car. He survived on the kindness of others, and now that he has been able to make a life here he spends quite a bit of his free time giving back.

I met Carl while out and about as he is a staple on the scene as a musician and friend. He's now playing trombone in a new band called Smokestack with reggae/R&B soul sister Mindy Ka'imipomaika'i (aka Mindy Smokestack). They perform this week at First Friday in Chinatown.

When I met him at 7:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving, he had been cooking with a small group since the night before. The kitchen in the small school he used to prepare the food was a mess of dishes and food waiting to go in the oven, but there wasn’t really anything we could do to help at that point besides clean up while the stuffing and gravy were finished. There was a stack of take-out boxes outside waiting to be filled, but until the food was ready we were mostly just in his way.

Mayoland ProductionsCarl Richards performs with Smokestack this week Friday at The Dragon Upstairs


» Where: The Dragon Upstairs, 1038 Nuuanu Ave.

» When: 10 p.m. Friday

» Cost: Free

» Info:

Once the food was ready, we went to work carving the turkeys and dishing up the stuffing, green beans, turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy and desserts. We managed to prepare more than 100 meals and got them loaded before noon. Carl has quite a few friends who work with him — not just on holidays — and they had a great time mocking us newbies (“Hope you enjoy your tax write-off”) who silently took the ribbing, knowing this was a good lesson for us to learn.

The best kind of good we can do for others is to just do it. I didn’t really want to talk too much about the experience, but I realize I'm in a position where I can share with others in hopes they will decide to also make a difference. As much as we have or don’t have, there will always be someone else who needs help.

When I think about how much money I spend on unnecessary things it makes my chest hurt. The least I can do is spend a little bit of time trying to make a difference, especially as a holiday orphan with my family in Olympia, Wash. It’s something to think about all the time, not just during the holidays.

If your bar, restaurant or club is doing a food/toy drive this holiday season please email me. I would like to help spread the word.


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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