December 19th, 2014
Once a party promoter, always a party promoter. Russ Inouye is better known these days as producer of the annual Hawaii Ocean Expo and for his work in reintroducing He’eia Pier General Store & Deli to a new generation of fans, but there was a time when getting friends (and friends of friends) together for a club rager was his main objective.
VERTICAL JUNKIES 20/20 REUNION
With special guest PeniDean
» Where: Tsukiji, Ala Moana Center
Originally launched in 1994 as a clothing company, Vertical Junkies morphed into one of the top nightclub party crews about 10 years ago before crossing over into the bar business in 2009 with the opening of the former V-Lounge on Kona Street. Along with business partners Mike Nagasawa, Kanoe Sandefur and Blaine Tomita, Inouye welcomed thousands of young adults into Honolulu’s nightclub scene with 18-and-over parties at venues all over town.
Mention the phrase “Five Dolla Pitchas and Rubba Slippas” to these folks and they’ll immediately make the connection. From Hot Lava Cafe, Compadres and Ocean Club to the O Lounge, Hard Rock Cafe and Shack Waikiki, the Vertical Junkies kept their casual, laid-back-yet-still-raging party vibe going no matter where the ride took them.
The VJ boys will take a walk down memory lane on Saturday when Inouye, Nagasawa and Tomita host the Vertical Junkies 20/20 Reunion at Tsukiji Ala Moana with support from Tantriq Entertainment, Blaise Sato, Flash Hansen, Artist Groove Network, Xclusive Vapor, 808Tattoo and Know1. And if social media buzz is any indication, this holiday party will be one to remember.
“Judging by the people who have said they’re coming, it’s going to be a fun night, like the way it used to be,” Inouye said by phone on Thursday. “Getting a such a solid response to this party is making me feel like we could do it again. … That surf, party, cruise vibe I’ve always enjoyed.”
Another longtime promoter buddy helped get Inouye in the door at Tsukiji after spotting him up to his old tricks on the North Shore. Rick Rock happened to cross paths with Inouye at Haleiwa Joe’s, where Inouye stepped in to host a one-off party after the restaurant’s previous promoter severed ties.
“Rick saw me that night and later asked if I wanted to do a party in town and collaborate with him,” Inouye said. “It’s the holiday season and everybody is back in town. It’s the perfect time for something like this.”
Those looking for EDM on Saturday shouldn’t bother checking out Tsukiji — Inouye made it clear the party will be a throwback to the late 1990’s and early ‘00s with a mix of hip-hop, R&B, Top 40 and island contemporary by a roster of DJs who used to play Vertical Junkies parties back then.
“This is going to be a feel-good party,” he said. “Come in your slippers if you want. If you want to come in your $150 T-shirt, who cares? Just come with a good attitude. Come and have fun.”
Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter and Google+.