Hawaiian hoopla

Rani Gupta

Evanston is a long way from the shores of Maui, but 150 people at Hawaii Club’s annual luau Sunday night had to make do with Parkes Hall decked out in streamers, pineapples and hula-girl centerpieces.

Co-President Adrienne Ancheta said the luau is a way to remind club members of their culture and to share Hawaiian traditions with the rest of Northwestern.

“A lot of times you get a lot of silly questions, like ‘Do you live in grass huts?'” said Ancheta, a Medill senior.

Lisa Nakamura, who lives in Hawaii, visited NU to attend the luau and see her daughter, Weinberg freshman Lee Nakamura.

“I came to bring leis, food and support,” Nakamura said. She also brought relatives from Chicago who are Hawaiian natives.

“We like to reminisce because it brings back a lot of memories,” Nakamura said. “I’m going to cry at the end of the night when they dance.”

The event kicked off with a traditional Hawaiian dinner of Kalua pork with cabbage and a chicken dish.

After eating, Hawaii Club members performed popular Hawaiian songs.

Co-President Lauren Hahn said she was nervous when she performed songs with two other members.

“Usually it’s just background music, but everyone was looking this time,” said Hahn, a Medill junior. “I hope it sounded OK.”

Girls could be heard grumbling as they filed out for the first hula dance, a traditional love song.

“All we had on was a strip of white cloth and we were afraid it was just going to fall off because it was just knotted,” said Lee Nakamura.

Another dance, about a woman who drives men crazy, made audiences break into laughter and applause as the dancers flirted with the woman, played by Hahn.

“I make fun of the boys because they know the dances the least,” said Ancheta, who choreographed the hula dances. “But that’s always the one that the audiences like the most.”

Some members said the women in the group danced better than the men, but that the point was to have a good time.

“The guys have a lot of fun, (but) the girls dance a lot better than the guys. It’s true. Girls pick things up a lot faster … and they’re more graceful,” said Kenin Coloma, a McCormick junior.

Even the hula outfits, which included long flowered dresses, were in true Hawaiian style.

“We really go to school like that,” Coloma said. “Maybe not barefoot.”

Many of the club members, Nakamura said, were novice hula dancers who learned the choreography during weekly sessions throughout the quarter.

Coloma said he had never done any hula dancing until he came to NU.

“It’s nice to learn stuff from home when you’re away from home,” Coloma said.

After club members danced, Ancheta taught about 15 volunteers a basic hula dance and audience members voted on their favorites.

Weinberg freshman Jay Liao, who won first place, said he danced because “my friends egged me on.”

“I liked that move where you shake your butt,” he said.

Brittany Gillen, Weinberg ’99, said she didn’t mind walking away without the grand prize.

“Last year, I tied for first place, so I won then,” Gillen said. “And I really wanted chocolates, and that’s what the third-place prize was.”

McCormick junior George Walley said he liked learning about Hawaiian culture.

“It was a great combination of food I never have and dancing we never see on the mainland,” Walley said. “I had no clue there were so many people from Hawaii (at NU).”

But not everyone in the club was a native, including emcee Huy Trinh, a Weinberg junior.

“He’s a Hawaiian wannabe,” Hahn said. “We had to teach him how to pronounce everything.”