Halloween is still a couple of days away, but that hasn't stopped Honolulu from getting into the ghoulish party spirit for much of the past week.
The action ramps up tonight, with plenty of options available tomorrow and Sunday as well. Of everything that's planned, however, the most intriguing party to this columnist is tomorrow night's "Warholloween" at Crazybox, the nightclub inside the new Waikiki EDITION hotel.
Listen to hipsters gush about how Crazybox is the "BEST THING EVERRRRRRRRRRR" to happen in the local nightlife scene, and connections between the club's design/decor and the legendary artist/filmmaker quickly come up in the conversation. EDITION developer Ian Schrager's ties to the old school New York City party scene also lend a definite air of credibility both to the space, and the steady crush of people trying to get inside the last few weeks proves the room has had an immediate impact on Oahu's nocturnal landscape.
"I'm surprised most people don't get the obvious Warhol/Factory references," said Crazybox resident DJ ESKAE via e-mail. "Well, we decided to do 'Warhollween,' a Factory-inspired dance party."
To help keep folks in a New York state of mind, the EDITION is flying out DJ Stretch Armstrong, pictured above, to spin alongside ESKAE and fellow resident DJs Compose and Anit.
"The man is one of a few DJs (who) are recognized figures in both the hip-hop and dance music (worlds)," said ESKAE.
To help get people in the mood for tomorrow's party, ESKAE also shared a link to a 2007 mix by Armstrong. Click here to download.
If squeezing yourself inside Crazybox amongst the masses of others attempting to do the exact same thing isn't your speed, here are some other options for the weekend:
» ARTafterDARK at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, 6 p.m.
» "Dessert" at Apartment3, 6 p.m.
» "Hip-Hop Halloween" at theVenue, 8 p.m.
» "Robots vs. Zombies" at NextDoor, 8 p.m.
» Hallowbaloo 2010 at The Waterfront at Aloha Tower Marketplace, 8:30 p.m.
» "Halloween Horror" at Anna's, 9 p.m.
» "Hip-Hop at the Trops," 9 p.m.
» "iScream" at the Bassment, 9 p.m.
» "Soul Clap" at thirtyninehotel, 9 p.m.
» "Handlebar" at SoHo Mixed Media Bar, 10 p.m.
» "Tricks 4 Treats" at Fresh Cafe, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (all ages)
» Hallowbaloo Street Festival, 5 p.m.
» "Flash & Matty's Rockstar Halloween" at Apartment3, 6 p.m.
» "Spooky-lau" at Oceans808, 7 p.m.
» "Haunted Wonderland" at Wet 'N Wild Hawaii, 8 p.m.
» "Hip-Hop Halloween" at Pipeline Cafe, 9 p.m.
» "Polyween" at the Shack Waikiki, 9 p.m.
» "Soulgasm" at SoHo, 9 p.m.
» "Teach Me How to Wiggie" at Ka Nightclub, 9:30 p.m.
» "Halloween Havok" at Blue Ocean Thai, 10 p.m.
» "Spooked" at The Warehouse, 10 p.m.
» Kumu Kahua Halloween Fundraiser, 10:30 p.m.
» "Be Seen on Halloween" at Oceans808, 3 to 6:30 p.m.
» "Halloween All-Ager Rager" at Pipeline Cafe, 4 p.m.
» "Rocky Horror Time Warp" at the Waikiki Shell, 6 p.m.
» "Tsunami Mansion" at Tsunami, 6 p.m.
» "Anything Goes Halloween Party" at Apartment3, 7 p.m.
» "Indigo Halloween" at Indigo, 7 p.m.
» "Bachata Halloween" at the Waikiki Beach Marriott, Leahi Ballroom, 8 p.m.
» "Halloween at Hula's" at Hula's Waikiki, 9 p.m.
» "Gaga Halloween" at Fusion Waikiki, 10 p.m.
» "Halloween at the Hyatt" at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, 10 p.m.
Pulse Entertainment Editor Jason Genegabus, third from right, joined local celebrities, clockwise from left, Champ Kaneshiro, Charley Memminger, Kaleo Pilanca, Lanai Tabura and Tom Moffatt on Sept. 27 during the taping of a celebrity round of TV poker show, "Hawaii's Big Deal."
It may not necessarily be written down, but everybody keeps one of those "bucket lists" filed away somewhere.
For me, there are only a handful of things I can think of — other than the standards, like finding true love, getting married, starting a family, etc. — that I'd really like to do before I leave this world. Some, like visiting the original Yankee Stadium before it was torn down, will sadly never happen.
Another list item I thought would never happen? My mug showing up on TV as part of a televised poker tournament.
Local rapper Prie, who will perform during "Indie 50" at theVenue on Friday, poses for a photo inside Kalihi clothing boutique Limited Addiction, one of his sponsors.
As the old saying goes, "a rising tide lifts all ships," and that's exactly what will happen tonight for local hip-hop fans in Chinatown. BambuTwo's theVenue and Manifest, both relatively newer additions to the neighborhood, will host "competing" events, but it's a good bet you'll see many of the same faces in both places.
The "Indie 50 Hip-Hop Festival" gets underway at 9:30 p.m. Friday at theVenue, with live performances by Creed Chameleon with Tempo Valley and DJ Packo, Ill Hill Society with the R-U-N Band, Mental Case with Perfect Strangahz, Pro and Eternal. Live artwork is also planned by Ckaweeks; DJ Une will be at theVenue to keep the music going all night long.
Another new artist tapped to perform at "Indie 50" is Prie Falaniko, a 19-year old Kalihi resident who was born in Hawaii before moving to Las Vegas at a young age. He returned in 2007 and set about making a name for himself on the local scene by releasing mixtapes; his latest, "Rookie of the Year," is available for free download here.
And along with backing up Creed Chameleon's performance with Tempo Valley, DJ Packo will also be at theVenue to celebrate the release of his latest mixtape, "Aqua Dust 2."
Packo was nice enough to provide a short sampling of what people can expect to hear on his new mixtape. Click here to listen and download the audio.
DOWN THE street and around the corner, another local rapper will be celebrating the release of his new album, "You Don't Look Like You Rap," at Manifest. Doors open around 9 p.m.
K-Luv, one third of local hip-hop group Prolific Unknowns, will be joined by Lost at Sea, the Deadbeats, PU brethren Big Mox and DJ Jah.
Here's a sample of what you'll end up hearing — "Native Emcee" by K-Luv.
If there's one thing I've learned in nearly 10 years of writing about nightlife in this town, it's that a winning formula usually isn't executed seamlessly out of the gate.
With so many variables involved in the process of opening a new venue — whether it be a bar, nightclub, or in last weekend's case, a brand new boutique hotel with global name recognition — it's virtually impossible to get everything 100 percent right on opening day.
So when I stood inside the new Waikiki EDITION last Friday for the first time, just a few feet away from legendary nightclub owner and EDITION developer Ian Schrager, and heard the man acknowledge to the press that "we're not done" working on the property, it was somewhat comforting to this columnist.
"This isn't something pulled out of a catalog," said Schrager. "We're trying to create something new. So you do that, and then you refine.
"It's still very much a work in progress."
The man who made a name for himself as the creator of New York City's Studio 54 nightclub before moving into real estate development was joined by Marriott International's Arne Sorenson (pictured above, at right), and the two men spent nearly an hour talking about how their new hotel was going to impact both Waikiki and the overall nightlife scene in general.
"It's a little bit like opening up a Broadway show, or a movie. … You really want to have an unveiling when everything is completely ready," explained Schrager. "I don't consider myself (to be) in the hotel business. I consider myself in show business."
When asked how the EDITION will affect the local nocturnal landscape, he was unabashedly optimistic.
"We think it's going to hopefully take it up to a place it's never been before," said Schrager. "I hope that we become the center of it. We're going to try and bring to it what we know and like about nightlife, with what the people of Waikiki like also.
"We're trying to create a new genre."
Once Schrager and Sorenson were done addressing the media, they went outside for a few photos before property tours got underway. With a hotel staff member in tow, we started out to explore the rest of the hotel.
WE STARTED at the EDITION's private sunset beach and bar, a man-made replica of nearby Waikiki Beach with more than 100 tons of sand imported from around the state.
A shallow, infinity edge lagoon allows for guests to lounge on chairs in the water, with teak lounges, daybeds and Brazilian hammocks also set up on the sand. And according to the hotel, the nearby bar offers 270-degree views of the Pacific Ocean.
Downstairs from the private sunset beach, the EDITION's sunrise pool and bar is another area that will be popular among hotel guests and outside visitors alike.
While only guests will be allowed in the water, the general public is welcome to sit at either the upstairs or downstairs bars and enjoy the scenery. More than 20 mature trees, indigenous to Hawaii, have been planted in a man-made grove around the sunrise bar, with plenty of other flora and manicured hedges helping to give the space a much more natural look.
And just a few feet from the pool deck, there's an area in the shade that offers couches to sit on and people watch without having to sit directly in the sun.
Nearby Morimoto Waikiki held its soft opening a while before last weekend's big coming out party, so more than a few people have already been inside the restaurant.
Besides his rockstar personality, chef Masaharu Morimoto is already impressing folks with his dedication and willingness to jump in and actually prepare food for customers instead of standing in the back and "supervising" from afar.
Like other outdoor areas at the EDITION, it's not just about the food at Morimoto. Ask to be seated outside and you'll enjoy some of the same seating arrangements and spectacular views available elsewhere on the property.
The artsy planters near the entrances are pretty cool, too.
THERE'S NOT much to the front desk here. Just a simple working area for hotel employees — and a crazy, custom art installation by former professional surfer Herbie Fletcher that features more than 100 recycled surfboards harvested from the sport's top pros, including Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Mick Fanning, Bruce Irons and others.
Built into the layout of the Waikiki EDITION are a few spaces that seem to close up on themselves when they don't need to be seen.
This lobby level shop, for instance, features doors that rotate open, rather than slide. That concept is duplicated with the hotel's lobby bar, which is hidden behind a bookcase that can be opened and shut depending on the time of day or individual event requirements.
AFTER THE lobby, we proceeded upstairs to check out one of the EDITION's 353 guest rooms. (There's also a 1,500 square-foot penthouse space available in the hotel, but we weren't allowed to see it last weekend because it was occupied by singer Christina Aguilera.)
Each is outfitted with custom beds, 46-inch LCD televisions and sliding louvered doors to offer shuttered shade to guests. The decor isn't overstated, with small touches of Hawaii throughout and a simple design that appears to be of the quality expected for luxury accomodations such as these.
WHICH BRINGS us to the one part of the EDITION that I've yet to experience — Crazybox. It's easy to dismiss the hotel's answer to an on-premises nightclub as a space you'd be happy to just read about here on the Pulse.
The room is tiny — pack a few hundred bodies into the place and it's real easy to get claustrophobic. There are very few places to sit in the club, which is in fact shaped like a box. A few rows of bleacher-like seating can make you feel like you're at the luxury version of a high school dance inside the campus gymnasium. And can you get down with shelling out $11 or more for a cocktail?
Except this isn't high school. The music is waaaaaay better, thanks to new resident DJs ESKAE, Compose and Anit. The crowd is much better looking, thanks to a highly selective admission policy at the front door.
Don't ask how you're supposed to get on "The List" — all we keep hearing is that you better dress stylish, bring lots of good-looking women with you (if you're a guy) and pray to whatever entity you believe in that you'll recognize someone you know working the door. Otherwise, get ready to wait in line for quite a while, and remember there's always a chance you simply won't get in at all.
Access is understandably limited so close to the hotel's grand opening, and it's a good bet Crazybox will be one of Honolulu's hottest nightspots for the next few months. The vibe is very Hollywood, with touches of New York City and Miami's South Beach. If you're looking to get dressed up, be seen, and hopefully even see a couple of major Hollywood celebrities while you're there, then this club is for you.
We'll see, however, if that mainland mentality will end up working in the long run, especially if the star power at Crazybox fizzles out. Along with penthouse guest Aguilera, the club's grand opening weekend saw Danny Masterson, Whitney Port, Kevin Dillon, Jamie Lynn Sigler, Luis Guzman, Will Forte and Vanessa Hudgens show up to see what 40,000 recycled lightbulbs look like (Crazybox's ceiling is blanketed with them).
That's a great turnout for opening weekend, but unless the EDITION commits itself to flying celebs out here and sponsoring their stays in exchange for public appearances, I wouldn't be surprised if the big names stop getting mentioned within a year. If they do show up, they'll want to remain under the radar, which typically means you won't hear about their visits until after they've checked out and left on their private jets.
I'm also concerned with the abundance of employees who have moved to Hawaii for their new jobs. On opening night I recognized a few locals working behind the bars and as security, but most (if not all) top management jobs at the hotel are held by people not originally from these islands. That can be dangerous in a market that relies so heavily on the Aloha Spirit, but Schrager was confident it won't be much of an issue.
"(Features and amenities) are not enough anymore, if you really don't have this kind of great, personal, gracious service," he said. "We're sort of leading that, going off into our own space. To do the provocative design, but to also have the great service.
"And not the 'how may I help you,' but really personal, charming, gracious service."
Schrager is no stranger to the boutique hotel concept — many credit him as one of its originators. So don't count the man out when he says he thinks Waikiki is a great fit for his vision of what the EDITION brand is supposed to represent.
BUT IT will be interesting to see how things play out over the years to come. I see lots of similarities when you compare the EDITION and Crazybox to places like the W Honolulu's "Wonderlounge" in the '90s and 2000's and the old "Spybar" parties of more than a decade ago.
In more recent years, Flash Hansen and Matty Hazelgrove elevated the perception of what a luxury nightlife event was in this town with their "SKYLiNE" party at the Hanohano Room, and Pearl Ultralounge brought a more Las Vegas-style approach in regards to dress code and VIP access at the Ala Moana nightspot when it opened in 2006.
Even if Crazybox remains one of Honolulu's hardest parties to crash for us common folk, that doesn't mean the EDITION isn't worth a visit. Forget the club experience and hang out at one of the hotel's pool bars, or stick to the lobby bar, which is probably where you'll find this columnist more often than not.
What do I really hope will happen? I'd like to see the Ewa end of Waikiki get a boost from the addition of the EDITION, where people will also spend time at neighboring businesses before (or after) making their way to the new kid on the block.
If Sarento's was smart, they'd be scrambling to find a way to update its own ultralounge concept in order to pick off some of those people who don't make it into Crazybox. Buffalo Wild Wings could also benefit from its close proximity to the hotel. And I'd love to see Harbor Pub become the new "secret" spot for those looking to save some bucks and pregame there before walking across the street.
You'll likely never see him on camera, but the ladies being matched on the new season of "Millionaire Matchmaker," which debuted Tuesday night on Bravo, would have never made it on the show without the help of one former Hawaii resident.
David Sato (pictured fourth from right) lived in Honolulu for 10 years — first as a college student, then a radio station employee and on-air personality, and finally a TV traffic reporter on KITV. It was the time in radio that earned him the name, "Dave Hisaka," which carried over to his duties on the morning and evening news on Hawaii's local ABC affiliate.
After nearly four years in business on Kuhio Avenue, Waikiki nightclub Lotus Soundbar will say aloha with two final parties Friday and Saturday.
Friday's party is the big sendoff for a club that started out as a haven for local hip-hop heads and the Honolulu import scene before transitioning into more of a destination for house fans and Japanese tourists looking for familiar names from back home behind the turntables.
To that end, along with serving as a second anniversary celebration for Waikiki boutique Spiral Girl, Friday will feature female Japanese DJ Kaori upstairs in Lotus' main room, with the club's resident DJs holding things downstairs in the lounge (pictured above). The final goodbye will be on Saturday in the lounge only, with an open bar from 9 to 11 p.m.
Tickets went on sale yesterday for local radio station 102.7 Da Bomb's annual "Bomb Birthday" concert at Pipeline Cafe.
According to a press release sent by promoters Element Group, the Nov. 12 concert will feature performances by some of maintstream pop radio's current Next Big Things. Leading the way is Far East Movement, whose latest single, "Like a G6," reached the number two spot on the Billboard Top 100 last week.
They'll be joined by The New Boyz, best known for their single, "You're a Jerk," and Bobby Brackins, whose "143" track has enjoyed plenty of spins on Da Bomb in recent months.
Tickets for "BB10" are $25 general admission (21-and-over) and $35 for those 16 to 20 years old. Purchase yours at In4mation, UH-Manoa Campus Center, Ka Restaurant and Lounge, the Pipeline Cafe Box Office and online at groovetickets.com.
It always seems like I'm learning something new from Lanai Tabura (pictured above).
The former radio morning show host and entrepreneur schooled me on wine a while back when he launched his Look Me in the Eye brand with former Hawaii resident Mikael Sigouin. We sat inside Stage Restaurant at the Honolulu Design Center and he lectured for a good hour on the finer points of the alcoholic grape juice.
Then last month, we crossed paths again on the set of "Hawaii's Big Deal" celebrity poker tournament at Aloha Tower Marketplace (more on that in an upcoming column). I may have been in a stronger poker position sitting to his right, but the gargantuan ashtray he brought to the table was an early indication that the evening's extracurricular lesson would cover the art of smoking cigars.