Archive for February, 2016

SuperCity: Discover Chinatown, DiscoverArt

February 19th, 2016

There’s no question about it, we are seeing a revival in Chinatown. While some may say the area has been abandoned since the opening of a few Waikiki establishments these past 5 years those who know see that it’s sustaining and growing and remains the creative epicenter of the Honolulu scene.

Dusty Grabel and his team at Lucky Belly, Livestock and now the new Tchin Tchin! in the old thirtyninehotel space have proven that people going out these days want more than shots and a DJ. They want good food, good drinks, good wine, and a welcoming atmosphere to enjoy each other’s company. No hassles to get inside, no worries about someone in the group is wearing shorts or a hat, a high probability that you will get a table or spot at the bar, and a somewhat hassle free parking in the street or municipal lot. If your plan A isn’t working there’s a plan B, C, D and E.

Miki LeeWhat I love about the Chinatown area is how versatile it can be. You can make dinner plans here, stop by a shop there, go grab a drink before here, go get nuts after there, and carry on the night over there. It’s all walking or stumbling distance and perfect for hosting guests in town that might change their mind a few times about the atmosphere they want. It’s a great district with many venues to choose from and depending on when you are there you can even pop in to an amazing shop and get gifts or apparel or window shop some galleries for great art. If it’s someone’s birthday and you’re eating early enough, the lei stands are all right there. If there was ever a matriarch of the Chinatown scene it would be Miki Lee from the Honolulu Culture and Arts District. Working for Dave Stewart (Indigo, Brasserie du Vin, eleven44, Bar35 Hawaii) since 2007 when Indigo was alive and thriving with its huge happy hour martinis, what she thought would be a year gig turned in to eight years. Anyone who’s ever spent some time in Chinatown has no doubt seen this unassuming tall woman, usually wearing a stylish fedora, always there in the room smiling when greatness is happening. I know personally, if I’m ever at an event and see Miki Lee, I know I’m at the right event.

She has quite a few venues under her belt managing many marketing programs and media for Stewart that bring back great memories including Brasserie du Vin, Indigo, eleven44, and the currently operating Bar35.

In 2016 as the HCAD she has launched “a new initiative to promote all the good things happening in the Chinatown community and attract more foot traffic to the Downtown-Chinatown area. Art activities are free and should generally be for all ages.”

The event, DiscoverArt will be a daytime event every 2nd Saturday of the month, with February 19th as the deadline for the community to sign up for the March 12th event. Use the sign up form here. Performers, artists, shops, mini-concerts, fine art, demos and comedy or theater are all encouraged to participate.

“Art brings communities together and it’s a win-win” Lee told me in an e-mail. “DiscoverArt is a collaborative effort to present different forms of art for the community at no charge. Art is being used as an attraction to bring people to the area and introduce them to different spaces.” It’s true, if you haven’t been to Chinatown in a month or even a few weeks you will be blown away by the hard work that’s been happening down there. This is very much a thriving community for small business, and one that should be supported. “Downtown-Chinatown is authentic, a little gritty, but that is the character we accept. And what you see are the passions of local, small business owners.”

“Look at every major city; they have a nightlife and entertainment area. They have a place filled with cool shops and galleries, coffee shops and the most cutting edge cafes and restaurants. They feed off each other; it’s a symbolic relationship; and we all benefit from each other’s presence. Had it not been for a few brave club owners back in the day, we would not be where we are today.”

Personally I love the character of Chinatown. The locally owned businesses and small-business vibe makes me feel good about where I’m spending my hard earned money. We can say support local but actually supporting local is how we keep a neighborhood alive.

Vegas Mike talks Acid Wash

February 3rd, 2016

ANA MEDINAVegas Mike with Nocturna at Acid Wash Wednesdays at Nextdoor circa 2011.


Vegas Mike with Nocturna at Acid Wash Wednesdays at Nextdoor circa 2011.

Chinatown circa 2005-2009 is arguably the best years of its existence since World War II. With a thriving strip of creative, multifaceted genre bending events happening regularly mid-week and each weekend there is only a small collective left that really still remembers just how good it was. Just like The Wave it’s one of those things that most know will never truly be recreated; only evolved.

Some of my favorite parties back then? Showdown in Chinatown at Nextdoor, Kaleidoscope at Detox, Shake & Pop at thiryninehotel, The Deadbeats on Thursdays at Indigo, and of course Acid Wash Wednesdays at Nextdoor.

The Wednesday 80’s party could be as casual or as crazy as we wanted, depending on whose birthday it was or how much we wanted to dress the part. It wasn’t uncommon to walk in and see someone you know wildin out on the stage with a side ponytail or leg warmers. Special guest DJs would mix it up bringing back tracks we completely forget we even know and would have everyone screaming out each time something was dropped.

It was the party that took forever to build, but became THE place to be thanks to hard work of more than one person. This weekend, one of them is back on island to see if there’s anyone that wants to get that crazy again. I did a Q&A with Mike “DJ Vegas Mike” Licata over e-mail this week to talk about one of the greatest Chinatown events to ever happen in Honolulu.

Full Name: Mike Licata

Known as: DJ Vegas Mike.

Best website for you: @MikeLicata702 IG LicataRules

Where did you grow up: Brooklyn NY and moved to Las Vegas NV in the mid 80s.

Where did you go to school: UNLV

What brought you to Hawaii: I came to Hawaii to help my friend open Nextdoor in Aug of 2005. I didn't have much going on at the moment and the club needed some help, so I came out with the intentions of staying 6 months, maybe a year, to help get it up and running. I stayed 7 years.

How did you get your name Vegas Mike: I got the nickname in the first hour I was on the Island. The Nextdoor office used to be above Indigo back then. I'm not sure if it was actually Sergio or Chris Kahunahana's place, but the usual subjects (Francis, Bret, and Nate) greeted me with the nickname pretty much instantly.

Why did you start Acid Wash and with who: Miguel (OG owner of ND) who brought me out to HNL asked if I had any ideas for a mid-week party, at the time ND was only open Fri and Sat. I originally wanted to do Thursday's, but Chris Kahunahana was starting a Hip-Hop night on Thursday, so I got Wednesday. I called G-Spot, he called Jason Quiksilva, and we went on a hike to discuss the possibility of doing Wednesday, 80s music, service industry with cheap drinks night. Once we knew what we wanted to do, Nocturna was brought in to solidify the team and the result was Acid Wash.

How long did the party run: The party ran 2 1/2 years at ND, then they closed. It drifted around for a few months, Loft, Indigo, Living Room, but when Daniel Grey told me he was opening SOHO, it was on again. We had a great run there for a little over 2 years. Then my Father passed away of pancreatic cancer and things changed for me. The end gets a little hazy because I wasn't really into it anymore. It was a tough time. In the end Acid Wash went back to ND for its last few months before we left to go back to the mainland.

Who all is involved in this resurrection: Me, G-Spot, Nocturna and Jason Quiksilva are playing, Willis Haltom is my technical consultant on this event, Ana is PR, Jimbo offered us a great deal to bring the event to the Hawaii Events Center, that is pretty much the whole crew.

What about the 80’s music attracts you particularly to it? I was a teenager in the 80s, and nothing will ever mean as much to you as the music you loved during that part of your life. Sexy synths, tough girl vocalists, unforgettable R&B anthems from MJ, Madonna, Prince, and the birth of the hip-hop era, the 80s were a very strong time in music history.

Who are some of your favorite 80’s artists? Where to begin??? Depeche Mode, New Order, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, The Smiths, Duran Duran, REM, Roxy Music, The Cure, Bowie, it’s a very long list...

Would you say there is a “distinct” sound that is 80’s? There are a few sounds that came out of the era, and their importance is immeasurable. The 80s Synth Pop sound that was derived from the works of Giorgio Moroder in the 70s, are unquestionably the father and grandfather of today's "EDM". MC's like Rakim, LL, KRS, DeLa, Melle Mel, NWA and RUN DMC laid the foundation for everything Hip Hop has become. People forget, hip-hop wasn't for the masses or even the radio back then. And a stadium band like U2 is directly responsible for the likes of The Killers, Muse and Cold Play. Its all connected, if you know how to see it. "If you don't know your past, you don't know your future."- Ziggy Marley

How do you feel about modern artists sampling or resurrecting that 80’s sound? I think it’s important that current artists pay homage to their influences organically. If it’s good, I'm cool with it, if its forced or cheesy... not so much.

Can you think of any current/pop artists today that are borrowing from that era? Cage the Elephant, Black Kids, St Motel, Ladytron, Interpol, Foals, Deklan McKenna, Joywave, Crystal Castles, and I think St Vincent might be the love child of Prince and Annie Lennox. She's pretty great.

You left for a while – where did you go? I am living in Las Vegas these days. My wife Jenny, who I met at Nextdoor, and I got married 2 1/2 years ago and we had a son Michael IV on Dec 3rd 2014.

Why are you back? I'm back for the show.

How long are you back? 3 days, but if all goes well, this could be an every year thing.

CHRISTA WITTMIERIt didn't matter what was going on, you always knew Acid Wash Wednesday at Nextdoor would be a good time.


It didn't matter what was going on, you always knew Acid Wash Wednesday at Nextdoor would be a good time.

Can you give some details about the event:

Friday February 12th 9-10pm is the official meet and greet with complementary admission, champagne and pupu's. There are $5 pre-sale tickets available online $10 at the door until midnight, it probably goes up after 12. Also all Ladies wearing 80s are Free before midnight. DJs are Nocturna, DJ Quiksilva, G-Spot and Vegas Mike. We're going to 4am, so all you industry people getting done at 2a, we got you. Industry guest list: email Jimbo

Any future plans? I have a printing and promotional materials company in Las Vegas BGA ( So keeping that successful is important. I am a husband and a new father. My future plans are to keep my family in a good place, enjoy life and hopefully we can do this all again next year. I really hope to see everyone Friday for the Acid Wash 10yr Anniversary and 80s Prom.

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