Archive for the ‘SA’ Category

Level H levels up

By
February 25th, 2015



STAR-ADVERTISER / 2013When local nightclub promoter Hanson Nguyen, center, isn't creating and hosting events for Honolulu's beautiful people, he's often out partying with them.

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2013

When local nightclub promoter Hanson Nguyen, center, isn't creating and hosting events for Honolulu's beautiful people, he's often out partying with them.

Sometimes I think it’s weird how few nightclub promoters there are currently working in Honolulu. Then I think some more and realize that given the circumstances of our unique and amazing city it’s about right that there are just a handful of solid veterans and a revolving door of up-and-comers in Honolulu.

CONTOUR

Presented by Level H Promotions and Artist Groove Network

» Where: CabaRAE Showroom, Hilton Hawaiian Village

» When: 10 p.m. Saturday

» Cost: $10

» Info: http://facebook.com/levelh808

The legwork and investment needed to be successful here is staggering. The reward isn’t always equal. Stressors come from every angle — from a customer base who feels more entitled than ever before and venues that let greed take over when making business decisions to knowing that just about everyone in your life will turn their back on you at the drop of a hat once you stop providing for them.

And then to lose money on top of all this? The beach just sounds more and more like the best weekend plan.

If you’re a promoter and aren’t going out nightly, most likely you’re in an empty room on your phone for the first three hours if not the entire evening of your event. It's a humbling experience, but it should also be a lesson to get back to the drawing board.

It's because of this that Honolulu's nightlife veterans truly deserve our recognition and respect for making the scene vibrant. Anyone who steps up to host a weekly is illustrious. Level H Promotions currently has three. This weekend they add another monthly party as well, descending upon Waikiki to reshape the beautiful interior of the CabaRAE Showroom at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Level H Promotions was founded by Punahou graduate Hanson Nguyen. Together with his team — Donovan Almarza, Daxs Moorse and Nate “DJ Flip” Corpuz — and a roster of top DJs and go-go talent, the crew has over 20 years of combined experience in the local nightclub and events industry.

On his nights off, Nguyen is usually engaging in “out and about shenanigans” at venues he hosts parties at, including The Fix in Chinatown, RB Sports Bar near Puck's Alley and Club 939 on Keeaumoku. When he’s not out or working, he's also a full-time dad.

“I’m all about industry love, especially since I promote an industry night so I try to be everywhere.” said Nguyen. I know this too because I see him everywhere, usually in a suit, always smiling. “I just remember being a rookie amongst nightclub royalty when I first started promoting. It was a steep learning curve and I made a lot of mistakes and I constantly was trying to be innovative.”

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2014 Level H Promotions founder Nguyen with Daxs Moorse, left, and Nathan Corpuz.

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2014

Level H Promotions founder Nguyen with Dax Moore, left, and Donovan Almarza.

Hanson started as an independent promoter in 2005 when he co-produced “Flow,” a monthly hip-hop showcase at the O Lounge (now known as The Republik) that featured Hawaii-based talent. He first broke into the scene as a choreographer, manager and performer for a dance team called Affinity, when promoters would book them as a draw to their events.

His first weekly party was Be Social Fridays at the O Lounge, which turned in to Deuce and featured top go-go dancers like Sheleen Dee, Nikki Sotelo, Cerle Shima and DJs Jimmy Taco and Flip.

“It felt like being an artist, having a vision or concept in your head and getting to materialize it,” said Nguyen. “And the end result made people happy and created memories. It was a joy for me to do that for an occupation.”

This weekend, Level H and Artist Groove Network will make use of the Hilton Hawaiian Village's beautiful, multi-million dollar circus space with a sexy party. It was set up to be a possible monthly event, but so far the venue will determine when future parties will be held. It's only fair to see what they can do; I’m pretty sure these guys can deliver.

———

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

By
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.

COURTESY COURTNEY MAU

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

COURTESY VANESSA ELLIS

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!

Best of 2014

By
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.

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2013

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

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.

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

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2013

Riana Stellburg, aka DJ Tittahbyte.

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.

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

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2014

Human Lion opened for Young the Giant earlier this month.

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."

Really?

» 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 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

By
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

ALL WHITE NEW YEAR'S BASH

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.

COURTESY LUCIUS CHARACTER

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.

COURTESY LUCIUS CHARACTER

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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The boys are back

By
November 26th, 2014



One of Honolulu's most raging groups of party people have a funny habit of telling me they don’t like to party.

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CELESTIAL

Featuring Landon Tom (pictured) and DJs Delve, Debin, Jem and Whiskey D---s

» Where: Nextdoor, 43 N Hotel St.

» When: 10 p.m. Saturday

» Cost: $10

» Info: contrastmagazine.com

Ever since Contrast, an independently published lifestyle magazine, launched in 2008 with an A-list party of stylies, surfers, skaters, artists and models who flowed from thrtyninehotel onto Hotel Street, I've begged them to do more parties and have done whatever I can to help.

“We’re not a party magazine,” they would tell me. Over and over. Yet every event they decided to do was bananas. I never knew what a hangover could be until I met this group.

The magazine’s core consists of publisher/front man Race Skelton, photo editor/scenester Lance Arinaga, marketing director/surfer Jason Shibata, wordsmith/activist Daniel Ikaika Ito and elusive editor-in-chief/creative director Mark Kushimi. Other contributors include film genius Luke Aguinaldo, fashionista Cassy Song, global editor Zen Yoshifuku and musician/artist Landon Tom.

In print they are magnetic, but IRL their parties are legendary fun. This Saturday they are back at Nextdoor after a few Siren Summer events in Chinatown and years of art shows, issue launch parties and their signature annual Anti-Canvas boardshort art fundraiser in collaboration with Hurley.

Saturday will feature lots of new music forming in the scene, including Whiskey D---s, the DJ Duo of Big Pineapple's Ryan Miyashiro and Travis Sasaki. Expect to hear lots of indie-electro, J-Pop, nu-disco, house and even chillwave from the two.

The party will also feature the first live performance for Landon Tom’s new band that’s so new they don’t even have a name yet. They are billed as Only Child, but that's a working title.

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2010Contrast's Daniel Ikaika Ito, left, and Race Skelton at the second annual Anti-Canvas fundraiser in 2010.

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2010

Contrast's Daniel Ikaika Ito, left, and Race Skelton at the second annual Anti-Canvas fundraiser in 2010.

“It’s more of a reference to the bratty mentality not to any of us actually being an only child,” Tom said via text message.

Tom, best known as lead singer of The Jump Offs, has been practicing new material with Aran Souza and John Hamilton and is echoing a similar sound to his former project.

“Rock and punk. It’s how I learned to play music, through easy punk sounds,” he said. “I love guitars and live drums. It’s the kind of stuff I listen to.”

In this high season for surfers and rockers to work hard and play hard, they are rounding out the party with DJ Delve, one of the most versatile, talented DJs in Honolulu. He'll be joined by one of the twerkiest party DJs in town, DJ Debin.

In a long weekend of food and shopping this could be the shining star smack dab in the middle of all of it.

———

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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Threadz makes Kakaako debut

By
November 19th, 2014



The other day I realized my birthday falls on a Sunday in 2014. Talk about a celebration’s wet blanket.

The highlight of my year used to be when it ended and it was time to round up the best things from that year and plan an epic celebration for everyone.

THREADZ

Presented by Street Grindz

» Where: 445 & 449 Cooke Street

» When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

» Cost: $2

» Info: facebook.com/threadzhawaii, twitter.com/threadzhawaii, instagram.com/threadzhawaii

Now it’s on a Sunday?!? That’s just plain torture. I don’t know about you guys, but Sunday is usually the only day I have left in a week to recharge. I don’t always get my Sundays, but when I do it’s downright sacred.

Unless I pick a weekend date and just do the celebration on a non-birthday day it’s pretty much over — for the next six years.

I’ll let you know what I decide.

Looking at the same warehouse I did a huge party at in 2011, I can’t believe how much time has passed. Those days were so different; I can’t believe it’s only been three years.

There have been lots of changes in Kakaako since then, but that warehouse is still there and every time I’m in there for Honolulu Night Market (or any other event) I'm still reminded of one of my favorite birthday celebrations ever. I think about all the artists who happily spent hours and hours painting the walls, my colleagues who feely donated their time and all the people who came to support an organization I was very passionate about. Everyone worked so hard for something bigger than all of us. It was such a golden era to me.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIERHonolulu Night Market's Cooke Street warehouse in 2011, when the author took over for her birthday celebration.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIER

Honolulu Night Market's Cooke Street warehouse in 2011, when the author took over for her birthday celebration.

This weekend the same warehouse will host a new event, one I see as very beneficial for Hawaii’s streetwear industry and the upcoming holiday season.

Hawaii’s creative talent is incredibly strong when it comes to one-of-a-kind designs and limited edition runs in an otherwise saturated clothing market. The inspiration artists here are working with is so classically beautiful.

Take that and include any local reference only someone from Hawaii would understand and they also become a hit around the world.

Produced by urban block party promoters Street Grindz, this weekend’s Threadz will have occupy warehouses at 445 and 449 Cooke Street; the same ones used for Night Market.

More than two dozen vendors will take part this weekend, including Red Label Clothing, HILIFE, Butigroove, The Firm HNL and Kane Clothing. One of the more interesting vendors is longtime underground music and art co-op Lightsleepers. They will have local artists on hand to customize items purchased at the event. Imagine sending your friends and family who have transplanted to another metro a customized hat by Remi Mead or the Beaksta!

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2014Joah Moananu, aka Big Mox, performs outside the Cooke Street warehouse that is home to Honolulu Night Market. The event's promoters will launch a new streetwear-focused event there this weekend.

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2014

Joah Moananu, aka Big Mox, performs outside the Cooke Street warehouse that is home to Honolulu Night Market. The event's promoters will launch a new streetwear-focused event there this weekend.

"Lots of people in Hawaii spend their money on mainland streetwear brands,” said Street Grindz's Shawn "Doc Rock" Boyd via email. “Threadz is our way of giving back to some of the oldest and most successful brands in Hawaii.

“At the same time, we want to create opportunity for up-and-coming brands and provide them with an event where they can be successful."

The event will feature both mens and womens items, but Street Grindz founder Poni Askew wanted to make sure everyone knew about the mens offerings as Night Market is sometimes incorrectly perceived as a more female-oriented event. Shopping isn’t always for women.

Gifts are best when they are one-of-a-kind. Supporting local businesses and the greater community should be the only way we shop.

———

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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It's all about sole

By
October 22nd, 2014



WAYNE AGSALDAWayne (on right) has serious business shoe game

WAYNE AGSALDA

Wayne (on right) has serious business shoe game

BY CHRISTA WITTMIER /

Special to the Star-Advertiser

I noticed not one but two of the younger male sales reps at work wearing a specific type of shoe to work that really stood out. It was a nice brown leather with a white sport sole I later learned was the Cole Haan LunarGrand business collection.

“They’re hipster, that’s why” my rep told me. “And the Nike sole makes them super comfy.”

I saw them on Hypebeast but they got ripped to shreds in the comments section.

“If you’re in the ‘business’ of looking like a tool and have never heard of any other shoemaker besides Cole Haan, then sure,” someone posted.

“Are these Sketchers Shape-ups?” another user posted.

I wasn’t hearing it though. Everyone I saw wearing these shoes looked damn stylie. It’s like when you go to a work function and you spot someone sporting a Roberta Oaks shirt. It’s the male fashion anthem of the late 20s-early 30s generation of cool. I’m digging it.

The deepest I get into shoe or sneaker culture is the Nike SB Classics or maybe a dunk if I’m in to the colorway, but I thoroughly enjoy seeing men take so much pride in their gear. These leather shoes are fantastic.

Upscale menswear brand Publish Brand is back in Hawaii this week and they are bringing a hailstorm of stylies and music industry greats that will blow our city away on Sunday. For free.

They have teamed up with Vans to bring the 2014 all-weather fall Brenton Boot. While we may not be so concerned with the fall weather, it’s a shoe that can brave any temperature or atmospheric condition, which after this past weekend, we all very well know, is needed. Publish Brand still considers itself fairly small even though it's been very successful with its classic styling that is meant to last a lifetime. They have had various collaborations including Honolulu’s Kicks HI and New York’s Reed Space. Their clothing is pricey but perfectly tailored, timeless and elegant. They have a lot of pride in this boot and have spared no expense to do a huge release party.

“This is a sensitive one.” They posted on their Instagram last week. “We hold the project with Vans super close to home, as growing up in Southern California, we have worn Vans our whole lives. We didn’t know that one day we would land a project with Vans.”

“This just breaks all barriers and walls for those who do not believe. Love and believe in what you do and one day it will happen.”

COURTESY PUBLISH BRANDSalva's remix of Kanye West's "Mercy" with RL Grime is played out more than the original in the nightclubs

COURTESY PUBLISH BRAND

Salva's remix of Kanye West's "Mercy" with RL Grime is played out more than the original in the nightclubs

Sunday’s release party will feature top talent from both New York and Los Angeles.

Salva is a record producer, engineer, songwriter and club DJ who has created crazy club masterpieces that are usually preferred over the original by club DJs. He is a very influential artist in the music world and one who has been working in the industry since he was 18. His unique method for combining multiple genres of music to create club bangers that are truly his own is celebrated by many.

Dam Funk is still blowing my mind from his Boiler Room set last year at the Treasure Island Music Festival after-party but he’s been regularly killing dance floors with his funky electronic and hip-hop sets, pulling out all of the classics and making us remember so many tracks we love from way back when.

Just Blaze is huge; he could be one of the greatest hip-hop producers of our time. His songwriting credits include everyone. His DJ sets are known to literally change people’s lives. At least that’s what they were saying after his appearance at SXSW this year.

COURTESY PUBLISH BRANDJustin Smith, better known as Just Blaze, has produced songs for an A-List of hip-hop's top talent including Eminem, Jay-Z, Cam'ron, Rick Ross, Kanye and many more

COURTESY PUBLISH BRAND

Justin Smith, better known as Just Blaze, has produced songs for an A-List of hip-hop's top talent including Eminem, Jay-Z, Cam'ron, Rick Ross, Kanye and many more

Kicks HI’s own DJ Delve gets to open for all of this. I would be nervous for him among these heavyweights but I remember him mentioning that the management for a recent headliner he opened for told him to dumb it down mid-set. If there’s anyone who can hold their own for an incredible show like this it’s him.

Vans Otw X Publish Breton Boot In-store Launch W/ Dam-funk

Presented by Vans OTW x Publish Brand

» Where: Kicks Hawaii 1530 Makaloa St. Honolulu HI 96814

» When: 1-3pm Saturday, Oct. 25

» Cost: Free

» Info: PHONE ORDERS ACCEPTED: 808.941.9191

» Info:After Party Sunday, Oct. 26, at The Republik 18+ Free with RSVP

———

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.

Sin City, minus the sin

By
August 27th, 2014



COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIERI insisted on taking this photo before we got on our plane to return home. I love my co-workers.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIER

I insisted on taking this photo before we got on our plane to return home. I love my co-workers.

“Are you going to write about your trip to Las Vegas?”

That's what a tall flight attendant asked me as I waited for an airplane restroom to open up. I was lurking around the back of the plane because I heard after the crew distributes the first round of beverages to passengers, it’s open bar in the back.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIERThe author, who would normally never be able to afford a five-course dinner at Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas, enjoys her meal during a work trip to Sin City last weekend.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIER

The author, who would normally never be able to afford a five-course dinner at Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas, enjoys her meal during a work trip to Sin City last weekend.

I was wrong about the open bar, but it was a nice excuse to stretch my legs and engage in an unexpected conversation. I'm not going to lie, it was also nice to find out that yes, people I have never met before actually recognize me and (even better) read the things I write in this blog.

“I’m actually not too sure,” I answered. It was a short trip – only two nights – and it was for work. I had to attend a big meeting with Remy Cointreau, and while that’s still pretty damn exciting (COGNAC!), I was a bit overwhelmed from visiting the city for the first time.

I wasn’t sure where to start.

Being there for work was pretty amazing. The liquor business and Las Vegas are like peanut butter and jelly or vodka and soda; they go together beautifully. Working in the liquor business gives me the opportunity to do things I normally can't in the popular adult playground.

I don’t make enough money to drop a couple thousand on any one night in a club and I don’t ever pretend to be that kind of baller. Sure, dropping a couple hundred at SKYLiNE when I was in the Navy wasn’t a big thing, but as I grow older it just gets more and more trivial to spend so much money on a $30 bottle of alcohol that is gone in an hour, consumed by people who may or may not even be your friends.

Of course I get it. It's the whole experience factor, and in a town like Vegas it's pretty much the only way to experience a nightclub. You need a place to chill, otherwise you're stuck on a packed dance floor. I wondered to myself more than once if the crowd of people standing on the huge floor in front of the DJ were paid to be there, filler promotions staff hired by the club. For some reason it just made no sense to me that people could enjoy being packed in a place with no option but to dance.

It's only now as I write this that I realize how old and cynical I've become. I see people doing that every weekend at M and Addiction and Vice and they seem to be perfectly happy. That's the whole point of clubbing. People are there to rage, to blow off steam. It's not my thing, but I can see it's definitely something.

Still, I liked my bird perch. For once in my life I felt like fellow Pulse blogger Derin Derego.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIEREnjoying the fanfare at our small potatoes, $5,000 table, one of the cheapest available at the grand opening of LIFE Nightclub in the new SLS Hotel in Las Vegas.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIER

Enjoying the fanfare at our small potatoes, $5,000 table, one of the cheapest available at the grand opening of LIFE Nightclub in the new SLS Hotel in Las Vegas.

On the plane ride home I was thrilled to see Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” among the movie selections, which I watched twice. There was a part where Jeff Goldblum’s indelible character, the executor of an estate, pats a huge pile of papers and says everything is there except one thing. There was one thing that he knew was missing but he didn’t know what it was. He just knew it wasn’t there.

I chuckled out loud at this because that’s exactly how I felt in Las Vegas. As I looked around the room in multi-million dollar nightclubs with state-of-the-art lighting, projected visuals and pounding progressive house, I couldn’t help but think about all the dark nooks and crannies there must be in this town. I wanted to explore beyond the expensive hotels and clubs and find the weird stuff.

I knew it was there; I just didn’t know what it was. More importantly, I didn’t have time to search it all out.

Still, it was a fantastic couple of days learning and bonding with my co-workers and the best way possible to visit the city for the first time. Liquor professionals definitely know how to wine and dine and only get more charming as the cognac and champagne kicks in. As cliché as it might sound, I feel very grateful to work in an industry with such great people.

It’s difficult to put it all into words, so I’ll just look forward to the Labor Day weekend and hopefully see a lot of you out enjoying it. Events that look good to me include Soul Time in Hawaii at Bevy and, of course, Art + Flea on Thursday; the Party After Art at eleven44 on Friday; Manifest celebrating five years with a '90s party that’s absolutely going to invoke belly laughs and great photos; and of course my Bacardi Pool Party is Monday.

It’s nice to be home.

———

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.

Soulful house and a full belly

By
August 13th, 2014



Welp. There goes summer.

While I still happen to be recovering from First Friday, this weekend it’s already third Friday — which means it’s Soulgasm time in Chinatown.

The First Friday nightlife can lean more towards rage on the party scale, but the monthly Soulgasm party at Bar35 keeps it clean with a more, well, soulful vibe. The music featured is house and the regulars there love to dance.

PETER CHIAPPERINOSome of the Soulgasm regulars ready for Third Friday

SOULGASM

Featuring House Dance Hawaii and AC Lewis

» Where: Bar35 35 N Hotel St.

» When: 9 p.m. Friday

» Cost: $10

» Info: soulgasmhawaii@gmail.com

Lyanne Brooks always brings in guest artists and dancers to the feel-good event, and this month is no exception as she hosts AC Lewis from Seattle. Lewis has a rich history in funk, soul, deep house and jazz, which is how he caught the attention of Yoruba Records visionary Osunlade. Known for his legendary DJ sets, he will be accompanied by Soulgasm residents Yuji, Min One, and Matt Kee.

If dancing is your thing, you have a shot at winning some cash this month as Brooks hosts the sixth annual House Dance Hawaii during the event. She will have judges scoring individuals based on their creativity, expression and technical ability. As of Monday night she already has 11 signups and the list is growing. With the competition and guest dancers, including Aerilox, Cordao de Ouro, Diverse Art Center, Nathaniel Whittaker and the Housing Project 360, there is going to be extremely minimal blank space on the dance floor at Bar35 that night.

IT'S GOING to be hard to miss this weekend in Honolulu, but only slightly. I’m heading back to Portland to enjoy another year of the Forest For The Trees art event.

What started as a Pow! Wow! Hawaii-incubated mural project now stands on its own legs hosting 20 artists from all over the world to paint at more than a dozen mural sites. A lot of the participants are already in my (hanai) family from our Hawaii event, but it’s been really amazing to get to travel and see them work abroad as well.

I would have possibly saved my vacation days and watched the event grow over the Internet if I hadn’t been invited to play at the Electric Summer PDX event that kicks off the same weekend. It’s going to be my first ever gig outside the state of Hawaii, and I’m beyond thrilled for how it came to be.

STEPHAN T HERRERAToo cool for school: Electric Summer Event Co-Creators Tia Vanich and Chef Gregory Gourdot in Portland.

COURTESY STEPHAN T. HERRERA

Too cool for school: Electric Summer Event co-creators Tia Vanich and Chef Gregory Gourdot in Portland.

In the spirit of how we grew Pow! Wow! Hawaii, I now have a family in Portland after traveling there last summer. I met and became very close with Tia Vanich, a gangster-as-hell event producer who I could tell had a long-time history in the food and beverage industry the second we met, mainly by how the staff at the staff at the restaurant we were at doted over her and us. She was at the artist dinner with her best friend, Chef Gregory Gourdet from Departure Restaurant & Lounge, and we all instantly became friends over the next couple of hours.

After staying at their gorgeous house on a layover last year, she stayed with me during Pow! Wow! Hawaii in February, inking the deal that we are basically family.

Electric Summer PDX is Vanich and Gourdet’s collaboration event for friends and family in the restaurant, music and production worlds to all enjoy a day off together. It started and has remained a backyard BBQ-style vibe for their friends. This weekend’s private event at the White Owl Social Club will host dishes from more than 20 Portland restaurants and five local DJs, plus three guest DJs, including myself and Pow! Wow! Hawaii 2014 artist Mr JPatt from The Knocks.

It’s all sort of what you would call a dream come true for me.

Speaking of The Knocks, you have to hear their new single. It’s been getting rave reviews from all the music blogs and backing from indie artists like Flight Facilities, RAC, Dave Edwards and more. It’s got exactly the upbeat pop sound over the disco roots I already knew Mr JPatt loves so dearly and could possibly be the single they need to break in to the mainstream.

My fingers are crossed. Either way, listening to this is definitely going to help stretch the summer feel-good vibes just a little bit longer. Trust me.

———

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.

Posted in SA | No Comments »

An ode to the bottle rat

By
August 6th, 2014



This weekend marks a significant event in super-fun music as The Chainsmokers descend on to Hawaii for a sold-out show Saturday at The Republik. The Facebook event page for the show has evoked a bit of discussion separating the “Selfie” lovers from fans who listened to their music well before the hit single was released.

The Chainsmokers AP

THE CHAINSMOKERS

Presented by Electric Palms Presents

» Where: The Republik, 1349 Kapiolani Blvd.

» When: 10 p.m. Saturday

» Cost: Sold Out

» Info: facebook.com

Personally, I'm in the middle ground, having first hearing them last spring when DJ Deko dropped their remix of Say Lou Lou’s “Julian” at the Fighting Eel fashion show, which caused me to run over to him after I couldn’t Shazam the track.

Hearing it played out I instantly knew it was the perfect opening track to my summer mix, but was having a hard time finding it. I knew this was exactly the song I needed – the perfect indie upbeat sound that can carry an entire mix with its light pop aesthetic crying out, “BE HAPPY, DAMN IT!!!”

“Selfie” is to The Chainsmokers, however, what “Harlem Shake” was to Baauer. A perfectly timed crossover anthem that was played too much, too fast — turning true fans off quite a bit and making otherwise underrated, underpaid producers rich and opening doors they may have never otherwise seen opened so quickly.

I think it’s awesome and a well-deserved achievement for the duo who have been consistently putting out great music. Next week brings the debut of The Chainsmokers new weekly radio show on SiriusXM, “Nice Hair with The Chainsmokers,” which will air on the Electric Air channel starting on Aug. 18. I’m looking forward to this as they will use it as their avenue to play up-and-coming acts (which they have a very keen ear for) and also display their quirky humor.

“SELFIE” IS both annoying and relevant as an ode to the bottle rat, which is probably why the female voice over on the track is almost impossible to listen to.

The sad thing is, people really talk like that. The sadder thing? Now bottle rats have an anthem for themselves, seemingly justifying their irritating and narcissistic behavior.

Can I just say this now? It’s not cool to talk like that.

COURTESY CRAIG GIAMBRONEThe Chainsmokers cash cow single isn't popular with everyone, but they're laughing all the way through the festival circuit and their tour straight to the bank off its success.

COURTESY CRAIG GIAMBRONE

The Chainsmokers cash cow single isn't popular with everyone, but they're laughing all the way through the festival circuit and their tour straight to the bank off its success.

As irritating as that voice can be, bottle rats are a necessary evil. As someone who actually pays for bottle service, I know it’s not as fun to party VIP-style unless you have people to share it with. There are roughly 25 drinks in a liter bottle of Grey Goose, and if any one person drinks that in a night they are legally dead anyway. So why not share?

If those people happen to be gorgeous and fun females who love to dance and smile and be seen, well, there really isn’t too much wrong with that. It’s too loud to have thoughtful, insightful conversations anyway. True friends are awesome — especially when it’s time to pay and tip the server — but sometimes you just need a little padding.

According to bottle service regular Jason Nagamine, a bottle rat is someone “in a group, (who is) attractive and wanting free drinks.”

“They will be scarce if they aren't getting free drinks without effort,” he said. “So they are a controllable evil.”

“Their favorite pastime when not in the club is posting selfies,” fellow bottle service regular Chad Yamamoto said. “They do this for two reasons. The main (one) is to validate their existence. The second is so we don't forget what they look like just in case we forgot what they looked like since the last selfie they posted probably three or four hours before.

“Bottle rats are actually very insecure. They need the likes and comments from their selfies because of their lack of self-esteem, hence the word selfie. Yes they are beautiful, but the sad reality is more than likely they grew up being reinforced that the only thing they have going for them is their looks.”

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2014Let the professionals handle it: Heading to The Manor's two-year anniversary on Friday at M Nightclub? Be sure to tell one of the club's bottle service hostesses, pictured, who your guests are to avoid a bottle rat infestation at your table.

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2014

Let the professionals handle it: Heading to The Manor's two-year anniversary on Friday at M Nightclub? Be sure to tell one of the club's bottle service hostesses, pictured, who your guests are to avoid a bottle rat infestation at your table.

My verdict? It’s our own fault for continuing to host and encourage this behavior. We want the beauty and flashiness, then we complain when people take advantage.

If we want people to contribute, it needs to be communicated when they are invited. If everyone scatters when it’s time to pay the bill, just don’t invite them again. The best part about Hawaii is dime piece club girls are a dime a dozen, and new 21-year-olds who want to party keep showing up.

As long as we are the ones paying for the drinks we hold the cards. How many friends do we want when we are out? How good do we want our table to look? How much fun do we want to have? It's up to us at the end of the day.

As much as I love The Chainsmokers and hate “Selfie,” it definitely rings true so I can tolerate it. Just like bottle rats — if I don’t want to hear them I can just turn it off.

———

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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