and so I have to ask… do you dance hula?
yes. yes I did.
Whenever I tell people from the mainland (That’s what we call all you contiguous US types. Alaska says “Lower 48,” we say “mainland.”) that I used to dance hula, they are always like OMG YOU DID!? THAT’S SO HOT/SEXY/COOL CAN YOU DOITRIGHTNOW/SHOWME? as if it’s a party trick I whip out during lulls in conversation like those guys who can tell you pi to the 49th digit. It’s not.
Plus, I have a feeling they are thinking of this:
Which is not what I did.
Conversely, when I tell people from Hawaii that I danced hula, they look at me like I’m INSANE. “But… you’re so NOT LOCAL. You’re SO PALE! You went to private school! You’re currently living in NEW JERSEY! How can YOU have danced HULA???”
Um, like this?
THE HULA YEARS:
When I was seven, I took up ballet because I loved dancing. For our first performance, the volunteer mom backstage had us lined up incorrectly. I told her that her little index card was wrong and we should be in a different order, but she didn’t believe me and we went out in the wrong order. I. Was. So. Mad. There were a couple of places in the dance where we had to move backwards or forwards to change formation, and it was a complete mess because of the line problem. (Let me add that at the time I was FURIOUS and didn’t understand why she didn’t just listen to me, but now that I’m twenty-two, I realize that I probably wouldn’t have listened to the psycho 7 year old in the beginner class either.) Now, I don’t want to say that this is the reason I quit ballet, but maybe it had something to do with it.
Aside from ballet, my options were hula or drill team. The latter of which, frankly, still scares me a little.
Altogether. Too. Happy.
I decided to take up hula, which I LOVED. I danced in the normal beginner class for about a year, and then I was asked to move up into the class that goes to competitions and performs… everywhere. From when I was eight until the summer I turned fourteen, hula pretty much ran my life. We performed on cruise ships three to four times a month. We performed on base. We performed in shopping malls. I traveled to Alabama, DC, NYC, Virginia, and Florida to perform for different hula trips. I spent all summer practicing for competitions and never cut my hair. It was amazing.
Since this was in the ’90s, I
1. Do not have a million pictures of this time in my life as it was before digital film
2. Do not have any video of me dancing save on VHS tapes which are at home
3. Cannot find any competition footage on youtube that is old enough to include me
(By the way, we didn’t just go to competitions. We effing won them. There are a LOT of politics involved in the hula judging world, sometimes even more than in Olympic team gymnastics (oh snap, yeah, I went there), but we won first place TWICE and second every other year. When I tell people I performed in competitions, they sometimes ask “well what if you make a mistake?” Dude, we don’t make mistakes. We kicked major ASS is what I’m basically saying.)
Anyway, here are some photos I do have of those years:
notice the lack of coconuts?
There are a ton more people in my hula group, btw. It's not just me.
I took a break from hula for two years (that’s code for “cut my hair”), eighth grade and freshman year of high school, and then in sophomore and junior year I danced again, this time in the older performing group. This older group goes to the competition called Merrie Monarch (which people seem to love a lot more than Keiki Hula, the kiddie version) so I could find a lot more footage on youtube of that. I still couldn’t find any years that I was in, but here is a video of my hula group in last year’s Merrie Monarch.
Do not even get me STARTED on the atrocious graphics they have going on in this video. Could they not afford After Effects? The part where the cameraman appears to have DROPPED the camera at the beginning? That thing with the red boxes that is hideous and wastes valuable screen real estate? It’s all so awful.
(NB: At the beginning, they are chanting/singing what is called an oli, and then they go on to the part where they dance. Before you ask, yes, I still know a ton of these oli(s) and can’t wait for the day when I’m 40 and drunk at someone’s bachelorette party in Atlantic City, because I’m sure that’s when I’m going to finally let them all out. Classy.)
And here is another video I found. I’m not in this one either, but every year my halau (that’s what a hula group is called, look at you, learning something!) puts on a Christmas Show, and the two performing groups (both the young group and the older one) along with the boy group are in this medley of Hawaiian/Christmas Songs that opens the show. This show, and especially the opening medley were one of my favorite things all year, and I decided to include this video so you all could see how fun it was, and also to explain why I know hula-esque choreography to a number of Christmas songs, including but not limited to: Silver Bells, Jolly Old St. Nicholas, Up on the Housetop, and Little Drummer Boy (holla!). Some of you who know me IRL might have actually seen a couple of these in person.
I’m so glad they still do the turn, turn, downclapsnap MERRY CHRISTMAS! thing at the end, because why change a good thing?
Also, nothing like a Christmas video in April to end this post, LOL. I guess that’s all for tonight. From all of us to all of you… ALOHA!