It was the Year of the Lord 1992, in the month of January, on the 22nd day, and I was in Heaven. I had left the continent of Europe for the first time and landed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in Honolulu. As the doors of the aircraft opened, instead of the smell of kerosene and city, tropical flower scents greeted me.
I stepped off the plane. When I hit the tarmac (how unromantic), a jolt of energy raced through me. “Welcome home,” it said, “this is where you belong.” I later learned that Hawaiians call that energy, mana.
I spent the following week in a routine of bliss. In the morning, I would wake up and walk from my hotel (one of the Waikiki Outriggers) to Ala Moana, swim for an hour, then march back to 1717 Ala Wai. There I’d have breakfast with my hosts and spend the day with them. Around 6p, we’d have dinner. Then I would go out on my own, exploring Waikiki nightlife.
That’s when I found the (now defunct) Hula’s. It billed itself as a “bar and lei stand” and offered the rarest of commodities: an open-air dance floor. Suddenly, I was freed from the then omni-present cigarette smoke and could dance the night away. And I readily did that, dancing for hours, fending off unwanted attention by simply continuing to dance when someone ground too close.