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.
BEST NEW THING: FEMALES AS NOT JUST OBJECTS
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.
BEST RENAISSANCE (WO)MAN: RIANA "TITTABYTE" STELLBURG
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.
BEST UP-AND-COMER: DJ GNARALY AND BUSSABAND ENTERTAINMENT (TIE)
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!
MOST POTENTIAL: ELECTRIC BOAT CRUISE AND BUHO CANTINA (TIE)
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.
MOST UNDERRATED: HOUSE MUSIC
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.
BEST COMEBACK: LANDON TOM AND FUNK MUSIC (TIE)
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.
BEST THINGS WE CAN DO WITHOUT
» 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.
BEST IN SHOW: ELEVEN44
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 Weeknight Weekly: #IN Mondays at Lulu's Waikiki and Karma Mondays at Club 939 (tie)
» Best Weekend Weekly The Manor at M Nightclub
» 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 Sound System: eleven44
» Best VIP: M Nightclub
» Best Staff: Hawaiian Brian’s
» 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.