Alohas were exchanged at the door of the 17th annual Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Hawaii Club Luau on Saturday, April 6. The Hawaii Club really outdid themselves this year. A beautiful hand painted mural drew attention to the stage where later the many dancers would perform. The menu was excellent and there were many performances by both the Hawaii Club and Halau Hula Napuaokalei’ilima, a school for hula and Hawaiian culture located in Cottonwood, Ariz.
As always, the members of the Embry-Riddle Hawaii Club prepared a wonderful feast for over 300 attendees. Hawaiian dishes like Shoyu Chicken, Kalua Pork, and Chicken Long Rice were the main staple for the night. The meal was rounded out by four beautiful cakes that together depicted a sandy beach with palm trees. Club members, club Advisor Dr. Thomas Gally, and family members worked hard the few days before the event to prepare the food. Thanks to their efforts, there was plenty of food for everyone and plenty of leftovers as well for the dancers and club members to enjoy.
After everyone was served, the main entertainment of the night began. Halau Hula Napuaokalei’ilima brought a large group of dancers showcasing dances from Maui, specifically dances that featured the beloved pink rose, the Lokelani. The group performed 10 dances to songs like Roselani Blossoms, Ka Loke, and I Ka La’i O Lahani. All the dancers did a wonderful job with a very diverse repertoire. The group consisted of students from the school and did a wonderful job of presenting the dances and providing some background of the dances for those in the audience that didn’t speak Hawaiian.
The Hawaii Club performed six dances and hakas. The Ka Mate Haka was the introduction piece. A haka is a war dance and chant first performed by the Maori people of New Zealand. The dances are very popular in Hawaii. These dances were meant as an intimidation tactic in war. The boys of the Hawaiian club, while not intimidating, had a powerful presence and started the luau on a strong note. They later performed another haka called the Tika Tonu Haka.
The boys also performed the Pate Pate showing off some impressive jumping skills, as it seemed dancer David Ochoco flew four feet in the air at one point. The two ladies of the club performed a beautiful hula called Maunaleo, creating a mirrored effect to each other that impressed the audience. Together the dancers performed Henehene Kou Aka, a popular couples dance often performed during May Day celebrations at Hawaiian high schools.
A blast from the past was when the boys danced the upbeat Menehene Beach Bum Boogie, saying they had once performed this very dance in kindergarten.
The final performance was by far the most impressive. The sound of drums permeated the air as the Samoan Fire Knife dance began. Heat from their flaming machetes could be felt as they ran around the audience on their way to the stage. It was an impressive display of agility and courage when the dancers spun the fire knives. The most daring display was when one of the dancers stood on the others’ legs while still spinning the flames. There were some minor mishaps, but the Activity Center was left standing.
The night ended with the entire ensemble, with the addition of the audience, singing a traditional closing song, Hawaii Aloha. The night was a huge success for the ERAU Hawaii Club and next year should be just as great, if not better, than this year. Mahalo to everyone who attended and helped out!