Archive for the ‘Bars & Clubs’ Category

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.

'It Girls' and Instagram

June 26th, 2013

You want to know how self-involved and narcissistic I can be? Sometimes I think there are people who just seem to come from my own brain. Like, instead of grey matter and electrodes in there, it’s a person factory concocting what it thinks would be the perfect specimen for me to obsess over.

DJ Zilla on her "So Called Show," Tuesdays from 9 p.m. to midnight on 90.3 FM. (Courtesy Isabel Ramero)

DJ Zilla on her "So Called Show," Tuesdays from 9 p.m. to midnight on 90.3 FM. (Courtesy Isabel Ramero)

As far as "It Girls" go, many understand my obsession with them and why I think they are necessary to the culture of our scene. I’m not talking about just pretty girls. I’m talking about beautiful-on-the-inside-and-out girls; the ones who literally light up the room with their positive energy and grace. There aren't a lot of them in Honolulu, but I absolutely know who each and every one is.

I have been following Stephanie “DJ Zilla” Barbosa for a while now, who recently posted on Instagram: “Everyone has a favorite DJ, mine is Kitty Lee.”

That was pretty much the nail in the coffin for me (I totally agree!), so when I saw her post again on her birthday that she was getting down at Addiction, I literally ran over there to help/watch her celebrate. That night unfolded into one of the best I’ve had in a while, with nothing but smiling and dancing and not a care in the world. Zilla and her friends are legit. Prepare for me to crash more of your nights out, guys.

As a 22-year-old DJ and Communications major at UH, she is already surrounded by great people, intellectuals, music buffs and just pretty damn grounded individuals. She has never followed any one set of rules, embracing instead all life has to offer.

Spending the last three years as a radio DJ at KTUH has brought her a wealth of knowledge and influences, and her Tuesday night “My So Called” show demonstrates this.

DJ Zilla will be back at CoXist Studio for "Honolulu Night Market" in Kakaako. (Courtesy Mash Hatae)

DJ Zilla will be back at CoXist Studio for "Honolulu Night Market" in Kakaako. (Courtesy Mash Hatae)

If you happen to be tuned in between 9 p.m. and midnight you'll hear anything from world electronica, indie dance (my favorite), trip-hop, moombathon, UK funk, nu-jazz and tons of remixes and mash-ups.

In the flesh, you can see her next week during First Friday at the return of Indigo on Nuuanu Ave., "Honolulu Night Market" in CoXist Studio, and coming up July 20 at Double-O-Spot’s legendary Love Festival.

SPEAKING OF stalking people on Instagram, the new video feature rollout had many up in arms all weekend. For me, it was a serious letdown as I had carefully shot each course of my first visit ever to Vintage Cave on Friday, June 21, only to have the entire application crap out on me.

Those moments were lost forever, those first few courses already in my belly, letting the entire Internet (ok, just those who follow me) down. Vine has stayed true through all of this and even though that’s where I plan to live until IG can work out their kinks, I’m already noticing a few people who stand out and make it happen.

Gifted photographer and software engineer Aaron Van Bokhoven, visual artist and musician Adriel Almirol (aka hypoetical), and Chef Sheldon Simeon each presented my stream with visually stunning works, taking full advantage of Instagram's new video capability.

Some of the weekend's standouts on the new video-friendly Instagram

Some of the weekend's standouts on the new, video-friendly Instagram. (Courtesy photos)

Both Chef Sheldon and Vintage Cave’s own IG feed posted the glorious dance of detail they do in the kitchen crafting the plates, which is something many of us are never able to witness. These guys have kept me believing. Hopefully we’ll see more software updates soon.

THIS WEEK, artist Ben Horton is back in Honolulu for a show at The Republik on Thursday, June 27.

Many are familiar by now with the murals outside the popular venue on Kapiolani Blvd., and many have shirts or iPhone cases with his art as a RVCA Artist. Now you'll be able to meet the artist and even buy some of his art.

All ages are welcome and the event is free from 6 to 11 p.m. I’ll be your friendly DJ afterward.


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.

Fresh faces

June 12th, 2013

Some of the ladies behind "Wonton Wednesdays" at theVenue. (Courtesy Alex Kamm)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This post marks the start of a new blog on the Pulse. "SuperCity" will be published every Wednesday.)

Thank God it's summer. The only way I really can tell is to look up and see more vibrancy in the scene. A lot of people are home from college and happy to be back in Honolulu. You totally can tell.

“There were so many people everywhere,” DJ Soundcheck told me last Thursday over a beer at Rakuen, where he had recently found himself raging at "Rakuen Wednesdays" with DJs Augustine, Neekz, Mixmaster B and Shift.

"It was madness," he said.

The madness continues across the street with promoters Racesauce and Shishi Nainai Entertainment with support from Element Group and Eightball Hawaii, who bring the party downtown to theVenue. "Wonton Wednesdays" is gaining speed as THE spot to be with a fresh-faced promotions team running an 18-and-over party that enforces a strict dress code.

I love it. They are essentially preparing the new generation to go clubbing in Honolulu.

The dress code was reiterated recently at Racesauce's Saturday night home at Ginza Nightclub, as too many people have slipped inside with hats or jeans. The problem is too many friends think they are the exception to the rule — and when you’re talking about promoters like Racesauce and Element Group, they definitely have a lot of friends. I can only imagine how hard it was to see so many of them showing up in tanks or snapbacks.

I’m not going to lie. I love streetwear, but there’s definitely a time and a place to rock that. I’m happy for the guys who were able to get their message across without destroying the killer vibe at Ginza. The club's confetti cannons, lovable staff, amazing sound system and open-format playlist sets them apart as one of the top nightclubs in the city. It would have been a shame to walk in to all that and see everyone in boardshorts.

Wonton Wednesday resident Massfunk with Norman Jay Santos

"Wonton Wednesdays" resident DJ Massfunk, right, with Norman Jay Santos. (Courtesy Alex Kamm)

Anyway, back to Wednesday. "Wonton Wednesdays" features two of my favorite DJ/producers as their residents: Massfunk and Frizel.

Massfunk is probably one of the youngest producers I know who's been killing it in the EDM scene for the past five years. A lot of the barely legals who raged with him when he opened for Afrojack or Skrillex are now of age to drink with him at theVenue, and the ones still not quite 21 can come hear his music, too. It’s a win for everyone!

While he's ridiculously shy for how talented he is, that never comes across in Massfunk's stage presence. You can tell this kid is obsessed with music. House, progressive house and trance are his forte, which is nicely rounded out with DJ Frizel, who will happily play just about anything.

Frizel is one of those open-format types who has a deep affinity for EDM but can get as old school funky as you want. I loved his set at the Mai Tai Bar's "Hot Island DJ Spinoff" earlier this year, where he made everyone over 30 feel damn comfortable with more than a few old school nuggets.

Tonight, June 12, he competes again at Dave & Busters for a highly coveted gig at Lovefest. The "DJ/Go-Go to Lovefest" series will be held every Wednesday on the D&B's rooftop until the finals on July 10.

This weekend, our friends from Collective Effort are back in town to partner with BAMP Project on the two-day Republik Music Festival. The EDM portion Friday, June 14, at The Republik will reunite me with one of my favorites from a trip to the Electric Palms Music Festival in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, earlier this year — miss Kate Culbertson, a.k.a. Pretty Low.

Pretty Low at Pink Kitty in Cabo for Electric Palms Music Festival April 2013

Pretty Low at Pink Kitty in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, during the 2013 Electric Palms Music Festival in April. (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

As an up-and-coming dubstep and trap DJ/producer based in Los Angeles, she has roots in Hawaii and is super excited to be coming back. I was lucky enough to escape down to Cabo to see the festival and was in the DJ booth at Pink Kitty when she delivered a whole lot of nasty to all the spring breakers in town. They had no idea what they were in for when she got on the decks, which was one of my favorite moments of the entire weekend. It's always fun to witness a crowd getting completely destroyed.

I can't wait to hear her set Friday night. It's going to be a stellar weekend!


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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