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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.

Kursat breathes life into thirtyninehotel

January 20th, 2016

OMER KURSATALT/AIR performing at thirtyninehotel .


ALT/AIR performing at thirtyninehotel .

I was so blown away last Sunday night watching KC perform with her Kings of Spade at The Republik for their Amy Winehouse tribute show. The percussionist was probably very irritated with me before they went on as he was near the sound booth when I was asking if they had ear plugs. I asked him if he was working tonight.

“Nope. I’m PLAYING tonight.” He said with a huge smile.

I was just as excited, it was going to be a great show. A tribute to a female legendary vocalist with guest and local female powerhouses singing our favorites including Paula Fuga, Candy Diaz, Erin Smith and many others after Kings of Spade and special guest from Chicago Jenn Hall took the stage. It was a powerful night with outstanding performances all around.

I was in the front watching Kasi do her thing (which is an amazing thing) probably with my mouth hanging open when I was poked and handed a note. It was from artist Omer Kursat, who had scribbled “She is ... real” on a hotel pad of paper and handed it to me.

If I wasn’t already blown away from the pure rock stars doing exactly what they were born to do right in front of me I was even more at this small but huge gesture.

TORREY SEABOLTKursat in Chinatown.


Kursat in Chinatown.

I mean, I had earplugs in (I found them! You can buy them at the front desk at The Republik) and in the front the sound was great but also very loud. Sometimes you want to communicate but shouting in someone’s ear is the worst. Bless Omer for knowing this and for realizing to always have a hotel pad of paper in his pocket and a pen. I always want to take those but never know what to do with them.

Omer is one of those people if you are out enough over the past couple of decades you’ve seen him or met him or possibly even had a conversation with him. He is a tall well-dressed man from Turkey always observing, always smiling, usually with a camera. You might have seen one of his photography shows at the Manifest or In4mation. You may have seen one of his books Over The Pali, 2 AM No Pork or Young Turks.

After growing up in Izmir Turkey, Kursat moved to the United States in 1978. After attending USC he moved to Hawaii in 1994 and has lived in Waimanalo for 22 years.

He likes to frequent the less pretentious places and events, and is a regular at Bevy. Before thirtyninehotel closed he was a card carrying member of the inner circle of friends that loved what it created so deeply. I don’t think there was ever a night I was there dancing where I didn’t also see Omer and his lovely wife Dee.

“Thirtyninehotel allowed me to discover an aspect of Honolulu culture that I could immerse myself info with no pretense, always feeling at ease.” He wrote to me in an email.

“The diversity of the age, style and hipness of the crowd, the new sounds of local bands, tunes by visiting and local DJ’s, the fine art, art installations, movies and the fashion events and quality cocktails and food all contributed to the vibrant energy of the place.”

On view at Bevy Bar you can find some of Omer’s beautiful photographs of those days. It’s a collection of prints which has three images from an earlier show called “Dancing in the Dark” all photographed at the late thirtyninehotel over a period of several years. There are also a few images from Kaka’ako Waterfront park, hinting the changes that are going on in that area.

Special guest DJ Timo will be back to play music which is a huge treat after the KTUH DJ moved on to New York City but will be spending a few weeks on Oahu to play at this show and then later next week with legendary UK artist Bonobo at Nextdoor. The electronic DJ is most recently known for blowing away a Boiler Room live set this past summer.

OMER KURSATOne of Kursat's photos on display at Bevy Barp>


One of Kursat's photos on display at Bevy Barp>

It will be a nice welcome back to a time that has since long gone.

There will never be another place like it.

Play and Destroy

January 13th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 9.00.31 PM

A lot of people ask me how I became a DJ. I usually just tell them resident DJ Jami at M suggested I try a Thursday night there and offered to teach me how to spin back in 2012.

What they don’t know is what got me to the point where he was even suggesting that.

Earlier that year I had a good friend putting together what could really only be called “The Perfect Event for Christa.” It was a competition for music, which everyone knew I love, but not a DJ competition or competition where any sort of musical instruments had to be played at all.

It was the competition for the music nerds like me who were always sitting in the corner of the party with the aux cord or giving people CDs or tapes that they made of whatever they were super into at the moment. It was the competition for people who used Shazam or Soundhound when they were anywhere to remember to look up an artist they heard and liked and find out where they were from and who they are influenced by. It was the competition for people who had more than 50 playlists on Grooveshark, Soundcloud, and Spotify combined, and who basically have music playing in the background their entire life.

It’s called the Red Bull Play and Destroy.

Back in 2012, against every warning signal my body was trying to sound off I decided to go ahead and enter. Mostly because I didn’t want to let my friend down but there was definitely something deep down inside me that really wanted to give it a go. Something telling me that this was something I could possibly do and not make a complete fool of myself, even though I was a grown-up at a college-targeted event.

I surrendered and picked out tracks based on a few given themes: breakup songs, totally 80s, victory anthems, hair bands of the 90s, and so many more that I’ve forgotten by now.

RED BULL ALOHAHypemachine user chelsee.effX was a strong contender in the first Play and Destroy, but the author wound up advancing by a thread.


Hypemachine user chelsee.effX was a strong contender in the first Play and Destroy, but the author wound up advancing by a thread.

The trick was to write down the exact que point where the track was good because you only had a few seconds to try to win over the crowd. If you’re trying to do that with a long intro you would get destroyed. If you could understand not only what would make the crowd go wild but at exactly which point in the song, you would slay everyone.

Think about this for a minute, because I do talk to a lot of people and know there are many out there that have a dream inside to be the person in the room setting the mood. When you’re out at the bars or the clubs or parties you want to be driving that bus. You want to share your passion and you want to connect with people through that.

Just admit it. You want to be a DJ. It’s ok to admit it! Don’t be scared of what you really want, and don’t let anyone ever tell you what you can or can’t do. I’m living proof. After three extremely grueling rounds I won the 2012 Play and Destroy, and three years later I got to hug a whole front row of strangers after opening for Above & Beyond that told me they loved my set. If you’re even remotely interested, go for it.

Resolutions vs. Life Changes

January 6th, 2016

Happy 2016! While I’m currently in Australia and already celebrated my New Year’s eve a few days ago, modern day calculations say there is a whole new calendar year starting today and in some cultures, it’s a relatively huge chance to start all over again, this time getting it right.

Making a list of resolutions is a great practice but can most often lead to disappointment when they are forgotten months, sometimes weeks, sometimes days in to the new year.

Take it from someone who has spent the past 6 months fighting for her life, changes don’t happen overnight.

I feel like I was lucky to get sick. If I didn’t I’d still be on the same blind plan, thinking I’m healthy but in reality am so very much not.

The me in June this year was so confused as to how I could be diagnosed with stage IV cancer. I ate right, for the most part. I exercised, for the most part.

It wasn’t until months later I learned the truth. Just shopping at the farmer’s market and working out when time permitted, never really drinking so much to be fully intoxicated anymore, and genuinely keeping myself in good spirits was not enough to keep me away from serious illness.

The truth is I was eating out at least four or five times a week. Most often it was in a rush and all the time I had no idea what was in the food. While I made an effort to get as much sleep as I could during the week, I was sleeping with my phone, so not really sleeping much at all. I was scrolling through so much Internet consuming so much negativity and secretly holding in so much resentment but making false statements to myself that everything was great. While I thought I had a great life balance between my work, hobbies and community service I was saying yes to too much and working too hard to please too many others and getting further and further away from myself and my own inner peace. I was holding on to everything and letting go of nothing. This also trickled over in to my living situation, as it took at least four sessions with six different people to fully purge my apartment of too many things I couldn’t let go. Now a few months later I feel so much lighter and a million times healthier.

I’m revealing all of this to you now at my own expense because hopefully I can help other people make some good changes and not see them as resolutions… more like life changes. Resolutions are almost doomed to fail. Life changes are not resolutions. Resolutions are empty promises you make yourself. Life changes are the big steps you make that you have to always work to keep intact. Eventually these will become your practice and everything else will fall in to place.

Consider taking a stab at these life changes, and the resolutions will most likely follow. Focus your energy and attention on these and tell me what happens at the end of this year. What have you got to lose?

Life Practice: Respect My Body as a Temple

Resolutions it Covers: Lose Weight, Drink Less, Quite Smoking, Save More Money

“At least you have your health” isn’t something I wholly understood until I lost mine. Having issues with your health or your body really is one of the worst things that could be happening to you. Yet we do so much to destroy it daily. Our bodies are such complex systems, with an estimated hundred billion cells and five vital organs working around the clock in a beautiful harmony to create an existing you. When you respect your body as the temple it is, you want to keep it conditioned and healthy. You know that eating fried foods, fast foods, overly processed foods, added sugars or chemicals is bad for it. Once you decide to start cutting back on that, you will also want to keep yourself hydrated. Drinking enough water is something hardly anyone does, but with the rising popularity of Hydroflask and all its accessories I’m betting this can change for the better in modern practice very soon if it hasn’t already. Eating from Earth, good vegetables, grains, seeds, roots, fruits and nuts as often as possible is something your body really likes, and will reward you for once this becomes a life practice. Scrubbing the skin daily, keeping the muscles conditioned, stretching and giving your insides the best access for blood flow are also great ways to respect your temple. Circulation really does make the world go around.

Life Change: Meditate Daily

Resolution: Enjoy Life to the Fullest, Travel More, Live a Happier Life

Meditation and yoga. It’s been gaining more momentum in Western lifestyle over the past decade what Eastern cultures have known all along and at a rate that pleases me. For this practice and despite some hilarious sad but true viral videos, there is no veteran angst for the n00bs, only secure pleasure in knowing that we all may live to see true peace in this world, in our lifetime. With so many jumping on the bandwagon either by self realization or in my case forced on by an illness, this time there is nothing but good that could come from it. Mass consumption will certainly mean many trying to cash in on it but what harm can there really be in a wellness retreat? A yoga class? A self-empowerment workshop? This, my friends, is not a competition. We are all one.

Meditating just means sitting in silence with no distractions, and thinking about nothing. Letting the thoughts that try to pop in to your head flood back out of your head and just observe your inner self. The thinking mind is a noisy bugger that will always be trying to overtake your true self. Once you can separate your thinking mind from your true self you will understand that the ego is something completely made up and not who you really are. Breathe in until your entire lungs and belly is full, then let it out slowly all the way. Do this for as long as you can, knowing that when you first start the longest you can probably do it is like 3-4 minutes, with a goal of at least 30 minutes each morning and night. If it’s the first and last thing you do for the day there is a whole new level of life that you can unlock.

Life Change: Overcome your Social Media Addiction

Resolution: Spend More Time with Friends and Family, Life a Happier Life

The first step in addiction is admitting you have it. I can fully admit how I would spend hours before bed and when I first woke up scrolling through Twitter then Instagram then Snapchat then Vine then Facebook then by that time there could be more posted on Twitter then Instagram and so forth. It was a never-ending cycle of empty consumption, with very very little of it making me a better person. As a single person there was nobody to call me on it but sadly when I was out I would see so many couples, families, and groups of friends out doing the same thing, which made me feel better. We all do it, so there.

My eyes burn thinking about it, and it was only my recent illness that weaned me off completely. After a few months of no social media when I finally did go back to scrolling instead of just posting I could see a significant difference in what is being put out there. It’s toxic stuff, you guys. Overcoming your addiction is a slow process, not an overnight cold turkey thing. Start by unfollowing or muting the habitual negative ranters or conspiracy theorists. Change your five-six times a day down to once a day down to every other day down to only on Sundays. You might notice time spent on the Internet now is better time spend with humans. Millennials especially: do not lose your human connection. Be present. It’s ok to take photos and share and post but scrolling when you are in others company it a blatant billboard saying “I AM LOOKING FOR SOMETHING BETTER THAN WHAT I AM EXPERIENCING RIGHT NOW WITH THESE PEOPLE.”

Resolution: Pay off Debts

Life Change: Give Freely

Holding on to anything is not good. This means holding on to debts, but start giving a bit more freely and see if you notice a more positive stream of wealth come in to your life. Nothing is meant to be hoarded and that includes your wealth. Circulation makes the world go around.

Driving Through December

December 16th, 2015

We can all admit it: driving on Oahu is becoming more and more frustrating.

Every time I find myself on Ward avenue I’m like “WHY did I take Ward Avenue?” and even what could be considered off hours for traffic like weekends or middle of the day can find you in your car with white knuckles trying to figure out a way to tell who you are meeting you will be late without using your hands to pick up your cell phone.

Now that it’s the holidays there’s even more people, and it’s the people that may not usually like to go out and drive to those additional functions or do some extra shopping. Plus we have even more people home for the season to mingle with the visitors looking for a warm holiday get-away. This year we are really seeing the predicament so many people and so many cars on such a small surface area really can be.

Driving? Is a pain.

During this time I like to think about another kind of drive; the drive that brings joy. Toy drives!

Two came up on my radar this year that are directly connected to the Honolulu Nightlife. The first being Carl Richards, trombone player for the band Smokestack who has been doing grass roots drives and feeding the less fortunate for many years.

This year his “Our Hands to Theirs” organization connected with a Veteran’s organization that will need what just about all of us could do without: toiletries. I know personally I had to clean out all of my bathroom and hall closet after I got sick to reduce my chemical intake while I had a super fragile immune system.

CARL RICHARDSThe author with Carl Richards helping to make the Christmas Eve meal that was distributed with gifts from the 2014 toy drive.


The author with Carl Richards helping to make the Christmas Eve meal that was distributed with gifts from the 2014 toy drive.

In addition to new toys, Richards is collecting clothing for all ages, blankets, and sundries/toiletries. Anyone who wants to start a drive in their office this week can take the donations at one time to the Institute for Human Services all the way up until December 24th at 546 Kaaahi St, Honolulu, HI 96817. A community event is planned at the center for Christmas eve beginning at 12pm with live entertainment and a holiday meal. Volunteers are needed, email

Tonight if you just want to bring a toy to Chinatown and celebrate the holidays and many people back home for Christmas there is a drive at Manifest, Nextdoor and Bar35. Bring a new toy and get a raffle ticket. Every toy gets a ticket and you can also purchase additional tickets for great prizes. Come decked out in the Christmas Spirit for another free raffle ticket.

2010 December 18 PUL - The Better Brands crew - The 12 Bars Of Christmas: A Chinatown Pub Crawl.  Photo by Aaron Yoshino Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

2010 December 18 PUL - The Better Brands crew - The 12 Bars Of Christmas: A Chinatown Pub Crawl. Photo by Aaron Yoshino Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Presented by Defend Hawaii and BeckerBecker, the event is featuring an all-star lineup of local DJs donating their time so that all proceeds from the night can be donated to the Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation. Music by Debin, Tittahbyte, Compose, Anit, Yozilla, Godiva and Songbird, with many more being added.

BeckerBecker is the one responsible for the 12 Bars of Christmas crawl in years past with the Chinatown Merchants Association and even though he has a lot on his plate with a new job and family obligations he still managed to get a few bars involved and an event pulled together in three days.

“In this busy life, my mother always pushed me to help others. I want to make it easy for everyone to help others so I do this drive every year for that purpose and of course to see the smile on those kids faces, it changes things." Becker told me in an email.

MARK BECKERMark Becker with the Hawaii Cancer Foundation at the Shriners Hospital for Children after a toy drive in 2013.


Mark Becker with the Hawaii Cancer Foundation at the Shriners Hospital for Children after a toy drive in 2013.

There’s quite a bit of busy-ness happening in this generation but even more now during the last few weeks of the “holidays” it’s very important to appreciate the now. Look around, see where we are. Look at your family, tell them you love them. Help those less fortunate, bring joy to another person.

That’s what is so great about giving anyway.


Presented by DEFEND HAWAII and BeckerBecker

Manifest, Nextdoor, Bar35 35 N Hotel St. Chinatown

Wednesday December 16th 2015 10pm-2am

Donations accepted, bring a new toy for raffle tickets, dress in Christmas spirit

Think global, act local

November 25th, 2015

I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a mall person. I like to support local and there are more than enough boutiques and cute shops to have everything I could possibly want.

AMANDA DELA CRUZMaui artist Amanda Dela Cruz launched her holiday clutch collection at Kit & Ace this week.


Maui artist Amanda Dela Cruz launched her holiday clutch collection at Kit & Ace this week.

Especially during the holiday season, the mall is just plain scary. People fighting over parking stalls, even in Hawai’i where nobody really speeds (that lives here) and most times they let you merge in. Something like Black Friday sounds more like a nightmare than a day to go out there and get deals on shopping. I would rather pay more to spare my own sanity. I’ll wait for Cyber Monday.

Although this year is quite special for Ala Moana Center with a beautiful new wing featuring Bloomingdale's and a dozen of other shops, for those that love the deals and love the mall, there is a great new boutique called Kit & Ace on the second floor across the Apple Store. The Canada-based company specializes in technical cashmere and likes to focus on “creative class” people. They recently partnered with a local artist and are supporting a great cause. Friends and loved ones who have moved on to the mainland would love a little piece of Hawai'i and if you purchase one of these mini bags designed by Maui-born artist Amanda DeLaCruz, a portion goes to support Women Speaking Out, a domestic violence organization.

Amanda’s beautiful watercolor drawings featured in her signature clutch collection are inspired by her picturesque surroundings, and is a great little bag to keep you from digging around in your purse for your chapstick or carrying on its own to spread the aloha.

“I’m all about the Law of Attraction” she said via email. “When you are happy with what you are doing, not anybody else then you attract nothing but inspiration and positive vibes.”

Amen, sister.

CHRISTA WITTMIERArt & Flea's Aly Ishikuni circa 2008, still killing it.


Art+Flea's Aly Ishikuni, circa 2008, still kills it in 2015.

If you are still out and about on Friday there is a collaborative sale in Chinatown with a wide assortment of amazing local boutiques, shops, galleries and food vendors to pick up a special and unique gift as special and unique as your loved ones are. The Downtown Shoparound goes all day until 7 p.m.

For those who want to skip Friday completely, the number one shopping event to exist (in my opinion), Art+Flea is hosting a huge block party on Kamani Street in Kaka’ako that features their trademark entertainment and small businesses.

Named in my Best of 2014, I can’t say enough good things about Art+Flea and what they do for the community. For as long as I've known Aly Ishikuni, her talent and work ethic has been very inspiring. It's so great to see how far she's come with both MORI at Ward Warehouse and Art+Flea. If you are looking for one-of-a-kind gifts handmade my local artists that keep on giving, these are some great options.

Of course, if you still can’t find anything you love, you can come to my cancer fundraiser at Nextdoor on Friday starting at 8 p.m. I'll have tons of amazing raffle and auction items, plus everyone who comes will get a copy of the paper I wrote detailing how I beat cancer in four months. I will also be screening my entire two-and-a-half-hour Snapchat story that spanned my fight for the first time. I know there are many who have been touched by this ugly disease and this is my gift to everyone who has supported me through this.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii, plays music as DJ SuperCW, is a tech columnist for Metro Honolulu and co-produces the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Championing Team Trop

April 15th, 2015

Last year I brought out ColeCo, a musical duo from Toronto, to Honolulu to play the Labor Day edition of the Bacardi Pool Party.

I wanted to do something big but also different, since people were going to be coming no matter what. I thought it would be a good time to introduce the new sound I loved, a sub-genre of deep house music called Tropical House.

KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISERThe author on the turntables at the Grey Goose Dayclub at the Modern Honolulu on Sunday. After sticking to her guns and playing the music she likes, the sub-genre of Tropical House is now crossing over into the mainstream.


The author on the turntables at the Grey Goose Dayclub at the Modern Honolulu on Sunday. After sticking to her guns and playing the music she likes, the sub-genre of Tropical House is now crossing over into the mainstream.

The guys were awesome and had their sound on lock, even abbreviating it to “Trop,” which still makes me giggle. They were making it sound so hard!

“Oh, there’s a lot of us Trop producers,” they would say in between multiple social media posts of them hanging out on the beach in aloha shirts to make their friends in freezing Canada jealous.

While I was still new to the name, I wasn’t new to the sound and the fact that I loved it. It brought me from indie-dance and nu-disco to areas of deep house I had yet to really explore. All I knew is the instruments were what pulled me in, but the beautiful environment in which I am able to play music is the most inspiring.

We are living this music.

On some of my favorite tracks you can hear a marimba, trumpet, flute or strings. Piano and saxophone are also fairly common. It’s most often a higher synthesized, even tempo in the range of 100-115 beats per minute and very easy to listen to, often with vocals. Usually the track is a remix of a popular hit.

The genre is gaining speed on the music festival circuit, as Goldroom wowed crowds at Ultra in Miami and Kygo closed out Coachella last weekend. People don’t need to have their brains gushed out to bangers anymore.

“I love it because it's different from all the mainstream EDM that are bangers or music people want to rage to,” Hawaii-based producer/DJ Jeff "Phantom" Pham, pictured below, said. “The vibes it gives off is summer, beach feels.

“Tropical house to me brings me a soothing emotion; it acts almost as a theme to paradise. Artists incorporate saxophones, trumpets, flutes, different styles of percussions not normally used in a regular EDM track.”

1544335_10203637704573978_3966796896810267376_nThis weekend, promoter/producer/DJ Matt Barberi turns his monthly Lush party on the third Friday of each month into the summer kickoff for Tropical House. As a long-time proponent of this genre, I was invited to be the special guest DJ. I am, as they say, ecstatic.

“Tropical House to me is the natural maturing of electronic music for the masses,” Barberi said. “Using synthesized melodic patterns, often well-known pop vocals and uplifting party vibes perfect for making anyone smile and feel good.”

It feels good to be championing a concept before it hits the mainstream, but it feels even better to be in the epicenter of the place these producers are inspired by when making this music.

The most explosive producer in this genre is Kygo, who is from one of the coldest corners of the world in Norway. Others, like Bakermat, ColeCo, Henry Land, Bergs and Soco are also from very very cold places.

But we are in the tropics, so it’s time to enjoy that with some inspired music.

Check out some of my favorite Tropical House mixes right now, plus my mix from the last time I was at Lush, below.


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.


Protect your ears

March 4th, 2015

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2010The Devil Wears Prada performs at the old 4Play Nightclub in Aiea in 2010. The band returns to Honolulu this week.


The Devil Wears Prada performs at the old 4Play Nightclub in Aiea in 2010. The band returns to Honolulu this week.

I want to publicly apologize to those of you who viewed my Snapchat story last week while I got a sneak peek of Electron, the new audio listening room at Hawaiian Brian’s.

I was shrieking and running around, yelling how much I loved it over the incredibly loud, deep bass that owner Lee Anderson was pumping to test the sound system. I know if you had your phone's sound on, or worse yet, were wearing headphones, it might have caused a bit of discomfort to your ears.


Presented by Underworld Events

» Where: Crossroads at Hawaiian Brian's, 1680 Kapiolani Blvd.

» When: 6 p.m. Thursday

» Cost: $29.07; all ages

» Info:

Sorry, but I couldn’t help it! I was so excited. The new space is so sick! More on that later, but as a venue overall I really love Hawaiian Brian’s. The smaller Studio venue is the perfect size for a less intimidating experience and the Crossroads concert space is remaining steady as a great place to catch live music

“It’s got a small club feel to it with a nice big stage and PA system,” said local concert promoter Jack Doom from Underworld Events. “It’s not too big and not too small.”

One of the regular promoters at Brian’s, Doom has some great momentum going into 2015 with metal and punk shows on the books each month, including this week's concert by The Devil Wears Prada. Underworld Events has been a very consistent and longtime provider for the alternative genres of hardcore noise.

Going to high school with many of the pioneers of the Nardcore scene in Oxnard, Calif., Doom learned how to play guitar during his freshman year. He was deeply inspired by bands that played in their quad at lunch and seeing how their music annoyed most people had him hooked.



Jack Doom.

Ten years ago when his band, Corrupt Absolute, wasn’t getting enough shows in between tours, he and his bass player started booking shows for bands similar to their thrash metal sound.

“It’s true when you do something you enjoy, it’s like you’re not even working,” he said, adding the most difficult part of bringing out national acts to Hawaii is dealing with the finances.

“It’s difficult to learn how much a show will make and how much it costs to do,” he said. “It is very easy to lose a lot of money very quickly if you are wrong.”

So why take that risk, over and over again?

“It's very satisfying, taking something as cool as a concert from cradle to grave and knowing it wouldn't have happened if you didn't do it.” he said. “When people come up to me after a show and thank me for bringing bands out, it's a great feeling.

“Promoters are often vilified for being greedy bottom feeders that take advantage of everyone. It didn't take me long to figure out that the promoters are the ones that risk all the money, yet are the last ones in the food chain to get paid if money is made. So when someone acknowledges that, I appreciate it.”

“Most people are still surprised to see how many shows we’ve done and the quality of our shows and our venue,” said Anderson, who works tirelessly with his dad, Glen Anderson, to constantly improve the space. The new Electron room will be open for business this weekend.

Protect your ears, it’s going to be a loud spring and summer.


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.

Facing social fears with fitness

February 4th, 2015

I’ve stayed cooped up in my apartment the past two weekends. I can admit it gets quite addicting. Why would I want to step outside and face possible judgment and ridicule when I can stay indoors, saving money, listening to the music I love, eating the food I love, with my cat who — sort of, in her own way — loves me?

COURTSEY PHOTOThe peaceful and welcoming lobby of the new PoleArity Studio on N King St in Chinatown


Presented by PoleArity Studio

» Where: 111 N. King St., Suite 2B

» When: 8 p.m. Friday

» Cost: $10 general admission, free for members; includes Italian gelato

» Info: (808) 518-1118,

It makes me wonder how many others out there find more peace in being alone than venturing out in to the night to bars, clubs and restaurants every weekend. I wouldn’t know it from being out, but I imagine there are people who make staying in as much of a routine as me and my peers do going out.

At first it sounds so weird, but in a way I am also quite intrigued by this behavior, especially now that I have had an opportunity to revel in it these past few weeks.

While my hiatus was to prepare for POW! WOW! Hawaii opening this week, others often cite social anxiety as a reason for staying indoors whenever possible. A few close friends are victim to anxiety disorders including social anxiety, which can be incredibly impairing. A few stages deeper than typical shyness, people who suffer from social anxiety disorder are so fearful of embarrassing themselves in public situations that even just interacting with people is a situation they avoid at all costs.

This makes me sad, but I am happy to see there are self-help methods that can help ease this pain. I am a huge supporter of eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly already, and this is a very solid foundation to help treat social anxiety. It is also beneficial to try joining a supportive social environment.

Perhaps getting involved with the brand new PoleArity Studio is just what the doctor ordered. I happened to meet owner Telepharaoh Brandon while DJing with him at Eurocinema Hawaii, but have seen him around some of the larger scale corporate events performing in many capacities from a DJ to a 12-foot tall LED robot shooting lasers and CO2 at the crowd. He’s got a great smile and a very positive, infectious spirit that makes it impossible not to have a good time when he’s around. As a lifelong entertainer, promoter, DJ and dancer, controlling the vibe of the crowd and making people feel comfortable is his specialty.

Brandon grew up in Chicago but has spent many years working and traveling the world, which you can see in his studio office. It's adorned with many beautiful relics of his travels and relationships he’s made.

COURTSEY PHOTOTelepharoh Brandon (center) does many large scale corporate events and weddings throughout the state of Hawaii


Telepharoh Brandon, center, does many large scale corporate events and weddings throughout the state of Hawaii.

January marked the grand opening of PoleArity, which has already been kicking with events and classes. The studio is a beautiful second floor location in Chinatown on North King Street. It’s a gorgeous and sleek design that includes a large hardwood floor and lounge area. Fitness classes include ethnic dance, aerial arts, flexibility, yoga and (eek!) pole dancing. Of course. those who are a bit more anxious in any class might run away screaming at the thought, but it is advised that people with social anxiety disorder also face their fears.

“We have people of all ages, races, backgrounds and size.” Brandon said when I visited with him last week, nervously contemplating the eight poles situated throughout the large studio area. “You will not feel uncomfortable, I promise! If anything, you will be part of an amazing group of talented and artistic people,” he added as he effortlessly hoisted himself up onto a suspended hoop used in the aerial class.

The idea of unlocking a portal to an entirely new group of creatives who are interested in fitness for fun sounded really good.

“Our goal is to host 10 different genres seven a week and three special workshops every month,” he said.

PoleArity also hosts events for their members to socialize. This is a great step in overcoming your fears and also satisfies the exercise aspect as well. I have yet to partake in any sort of class for fitness but admit it gets boring doing the same thing each week, so I see the dance classes as having some kind of practical application for life as well.


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.

Party the day away

January 14th, 2015

I'm still reeling from the fact we were able to get anyone to show up at my Grey Goose Dayclub on Jan. 4. The odds were so against us!

It was below 60 degrees that morning and it was the Sunday after New Year’s Eve, which is technically when nobody wants to spend any more money or leave their couch at all. Yet by 1 p.m. I was already handing my check-in staff another 100 wristbands. How could this be?

COURTNEY MAUThis is me with Foundation promoter Jimmy Lee and the Kaimana Beachwear models at the Grey Goose Dayclub at the Modern, easily the best one to date, and very unexpected.


The author with Foundation promoter Jimmy Lee and Kaimana Beachwear models at the Grey Goose Dayclub earlier this month.

I have a few theories. For one, it’s Foundation's crowd. They are the house music lovers I talk so much about. They are very loyal and can go longer than any of us. If their music is happening, no matter when or where, they are there.

Added bonus? As a group they are sexy, all in their late 20s to early 30s, established and mature — but still know how to have fun.

The other thing? I think day parties could be gaining traction once again in Honolulu.

Daytime parties are few and far between, not necessarily because of demand. The only thing that really hinders the concept are the hotels, and rightly so. They are 100 percent dedicated to the care of their guests. A guest complaint means some kind of compensation from the hotel, which eventually takes its toll on the revenue stream.

These parties aren't something most hotels choose to play with, and a bunch of sexy people grooving to good music during the day on a weekend in Hawaii just doesn’t cut it for some travelers, and so they complain.

Times have changed at The Modern Honolulu, which is risking its liquor license and top travel review standing to allow a monthly pool party take place for the past year. I use the term “pool party” very loosely, as it’s not a party so much as a chilled-out day club. And it’s working.

VANESSA ELLISThe author contemplating the travel industry in the new cabanas at RumFire Waikiki


The author contemplating the travel industry inside one of the new cabanas at RumFire Waikiki.

Over at the Sheraton Waikiki, many of us promoters have drooled over the Edge pool since they opened it. Now RumFire has renovated their upper bar, adding a beautiful wrap-around bar and four cabanas available for guests to laze the day away with drinks and the infinity pool. It used to be a luxury only hotel guests could enjoy, but now anyone who spends the required amount on food and beverage can partake in the glorious mental recharge activity I like to call Do Nothing Sunday.

I spent the day there last weekend as a final mental recharge before the Sony Open and POW! WOW! Hawaii, and I’ll tell you it’s the best way to do that. My server wasn’t just from Las Vegas, she grew up in Las Vegas. That is huge. If there is anyone who understands service and the guest experience, it’s someone who started working in the business before she was even 21.

I'm not going to lie, I felt like a celebrity lounging away in that area playing my boom box with my friends being waited on hand and foot. Going from the cabana to the pool over the white rope made hotel guests turn heads and sparked more interest in the area, which is a lot less for them to reserve than the public. I was just stoked on the never-ending supply of towels. It was the greatest day ever.

I keep hearing everyone say or post how great they think 2015 will be. Whether it's true or not, that positive energy alone is going to help make it so. Bravo, you guys!

We are going to have a great year. If you know me, you know how long I've been championing this daytime party concept. To see it finally happening right is amazing, and it's only the second week of 2015!

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