Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Love the Nightlife: Honolulu

I was excited when I heard about Level 4, Waikiki's new mega-club. I thought we'd finally have a place to dance to great music. I thought it would bring the tribe back together, that the ravers and circuit boys and freaks and club kids and anyone who liked and misses house music would finally have a place.

I really had high hopes. I'm friends with Peter, who is choreographing Waikiki Nei in the same space, and he's done an excellent job of balancing art and entertainment in the show. I thought: certainly the club attached to a fabulous show will also be fabulous, right?

And so I was thinking we'd get a taste of Ibiza, and instead we got this:

That's the managing team for the club, according to MidWeek.

We're not getting Ibiza or Goa or Miami. We're getting a "slice of Vegas." Vegas Vegas Vegas. It's not even Las Vegas anymore. It's just Vegas. The city is mentioned ten times in Midweek's short article, just in case we don't get it: these guys are Vegas Cool.

That's fake-boobs and fake-tan cool to you, homie.

The problem is, Las Vegas is not cool. Las Vegas has less soul than any place I have ever visited.

Level 4 sounds worse than Pearl, Honolulu's other attempt at a Trendy Upscale Vegas Ultra Lounge. Pearl is in the mall, right across from Long's Drugs. The suburban children who go there are comfortable with this. I think it might even have the same management.

And so I am sad. And unhappy. And will continue to pay for round trip tickets to the mainland when I need a night of dancing. Geh.

I'm not surprised, though. Honolulu nightlife is dominated by suburban kids who still live with mom. It's all booty hip-hop, and rich kids acting thug-like. This is what happens when children grow up with MTV instead of Sesame Street:

Meet the Lost Tribe of Asiatic Guidos at Longhis, another fashionable club at the mall. Don't let the ghetto-posings fool you - Longhis is an expensive place to drink.

Welcome to the Chais. And welcome to a recurring theme in photos of Honolulu nightlife: one man surrounded by cloned girls. After the photo shoots are done the girls will head to the dance floor in closed ranks, and the guys will run back to their corner. The clubs here are as segregated as Friday afternoon at the mosque.

Ciao Mein tries a pimp-daddy version of the same motif. Notice his hand is clutching the beer, and not on any of the women pretending that he's sexy.

Venus used to be gay. Now it's confused boys pretending to be straight and the fag hags who love them.

Fashion 45 advertises itself as upscale. So no t-shirts or shorts! say their ads. These guys, thus, are "up-scale."

Senor Frogs aims for a Spring Break in Cancun vibe, but rarely gets more wild and crazy than a Congregationalist wedding. Waikiki is family-friendly, so they have pinatas instead of wet t-shirt contests.

RumFire is another Upscale Ultra Lounge specializing in rum drinks: lots of trendy garnishes - ginger, basil, lemon grass, etc. - on strangely bland drinks. The guys are cute, though.

It's dancehall night at the Living Room, so everyone is drinking Red Stripe, mon.

I've never been to Zanzabar, but I hear that every surface is covered in mirrors and every piece of trim is bronze. It's only a few years away from qualifying as retro-chic. If we could get rid of the patrons the place might be fun.

Champions is an "upscale sports bar. "

Lulu's replaced Denny's on the corner of Kalakaua and Kapahulu. In theory this is "progress." Lulu's offers jello shots on sports night, and does not pretend to be upscale.

( I borrowed all the pictures in this post from Midweek's nightlife section. As if I would know any of these people, or be seen in the same club as them. And remember that this is only a taste - there are dozens of equally cheesy clubs out there).

It's not all horrors. There are a few bright spots. Downtown has NextDoor and the Dragon Upstairs, Mo`ili`ili has Chikos, the Moana Surfrider Beach Bar retains her regal beauty, Side Street has escaped the gentrification of Kaka`ako, and I hear good things about Aku Bone. None of these, of course, are Vegas Cool, and so they do not get covered in Midweek. A few good ones made the cut ...

Lotus, which claims to play Chicago House. They've thrown some gay events that didn't quite come together, and yet I still think this place has great potential.

Art after Dark is always fun.

I rReally liked the rRed Elephant, though I just heard on KTUH that it is closing.


Anonymous said...

OMG - SO on the spot! I liked the church people one too. AH

Anonymous said...

LOL. This is precisely why I haven't done any clubbing on this rock since 2003! Zanzibar used to be kinda cool--mixed crowd and the cast of Baywatch Hawai'i dancing to Latin house and Amber--back in the day. SF and its international music scene does it more for me these days. The Academy of Arts' Art After Dark last weekend (So Sari Indian-themed party) was a lot of fun!