It’s dance, Jim, but not as we know it….

There are many drawbacks, believe it or not, to living in paradise. The cost of living is terrible, and jobs don’t really pay all that well. And the gay community is small and insular. However this is also a place of surpassing beauty, and moments of wonder in the variety of cultures that live here. I love watching the Merrie Monarch Festival, which is named for King David Kalākaua, a Hawaiian ruler who earned his nickname for the renaissance of pride he brought to his people’s song and dance and culture.

I especially love hula kahiko, which is ancient (as opposed to modern) hula. Forget the dayglo plastic skirts you see in most tourist shows. This hula is descended from the necessity of ancient Hawaiians to pass on their stories through chant and dance and music. They had no written language, and so chant and hula was vital to maintain history.

This hula is filled with power, and grace, and many times raw sexuality. Instruments and garments and foliage is limited to traditional types, so it’s not “flashy” as the hula ‘auana (modern hula). But I find it utterly thrilling.

In the spirit of the Festival (which is happening now and is streaming live if you are interested), here is a sampling of some hula kahiko. This first one is the kane (men), and you can see the story-telling inherent in the dance. It’s about getting the rare yellow feathers from a now extinct bird for the feather capes and helmets of Hawaiian royalty. I love how such brawny men can portray a tiny fragile creature:

This next one is also kane, and portrays a “procreation chant.” It’s neat how they can be so sexy even in (as Fizzy once put it) “pouffy skirts”!

This last one is wahine (women). This kumu hula (hula instructor) is considered radical for many reasons — he moved away to Oakland and you’ll notice his style of chanting is very different. (You may recognize it from “Lilo and Stitch.” *g*) But this number is especially unusual, as he has his women wearing men’s costumes to dance in. You will never usually see this much skin shown by women in the kahiko dance! Their movements too are in the men’s style. Needless to say, I LOVE it! 😀

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44 Responses to It’s dance, Jim, but not as we know it….

  1. Micah says:

    Those were great, Alyx! I was hooked and ended up watching several others on You Tube that were good too. Thanks for introducing them to us…

    • Alyx says:

      Micah! *hug* Good to see you, brat. *g* Glad you liked those, it makes me happy to know other people might appreciate them too. 🙂

  2. Mil says:

    I’m not sure who Jim is, but this was super interesting. It’s amazing how much traditional dance shows about a culture. Perhaps dance does so more than any other art form? This was really great to see… nothing like the dancing hula girl I have stuck to my dashboard that wobbles to the ride, or the vision I had previously of Hawaiian dance. Love the syncronized bent knee jump thing the ladies did 🙂

    • Alyx says:

      You have a dancing hula girl on your dashboard?? *LOL* Well, now I know who is buying those in the tourist shops! 😉 Glad you enjoyed it, Mil.

      (And that line was something I thought came from the original Star Trek series, that Dr. McCoy or Spock had said to Captain Kirk: “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.” But now I find out it was never actually said in that form and actually came from some pop song! *g*)

  3. bahamagirl1996 says:

    That was an awesome display of your culture Alyx ! I was esepcially moved by the guys whinin down , it reminds me of how my people express our culture in Junkanoo , the skirts , the headdress and all that stuff . Totally awesome babe. What time of the year you have this?

    • Alyx says:

      I had to look up Junkanoo, Bahamagirl — I’d never heard of it before! It looks fascinating. Just from the pictures of the parades it reminds me of Brazil’s Carnival, where the samba schools compete so fiercely. The costumes are just amazing!

      The Merrie Monarch Festival is going on now — they have 3 days of competition, with an individual women’s contest the first night, ancient hula the second, and modern hula on the last night.

  4. Peach says:

    Who’s Jim?
    These dances particularly the 2nd and 3rd remind me of an article I saw on sexual expression in pre contact Hawaii:
    The freedom they enjoyed back then!

    • Alyx says:

      Jim is Capt James Kirk (see my reply to Mil). That was a very interesting article, Peach. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but it’s the amazing the kind of information they collected!

      • Peach says:

        Yes, it has all kinds of amazing info on the native culture before the westerners came. Even talked about how they took tender care of a baby’s bottom, shaping and molding it into a nice round shape! LOL Hope you enjoy reading it. 🙂

        • Alyx says:

          Wow, that was trippy. Not sure I would’ve been able to compose my own mele ma’i (genital chant), though. I would totally have started giggling and ruined the whole thing! 😀

  5. Ash says:

    Yikes! They must be fit! Those moves seem hard. Your culture is awesome. 😀

    • Alyx says:

      The dancers are very fit, and yes, those moves are difficult, Ash. Uh….not everyone in Hawaii is that fit, okay? 😀

      • Ash says:

        Well no. *LOL* I have seen not fit Hawaiians. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was awesome! 😀 Rumor has it that those Hawaiians that are not fit, rock the Ukulele. 😛

        • Alyx says:

          Hmm…some of us are not fit and we don’t rock the ukulele either! *vbg* But I agree Israel was awesome. Here’s another awesome ukulele player…and she looks kinda fit too. 😀

          Brittni Paiva, “Take Five”

          • Ash says:

            I’m just teasing. 😀 I’m used to being asked silly questions because I’m Norwegian, so I like to take things I know about a culture and pretend to think everyone is like that. *vbg*

            She is very good. 🙂 I have a guitar… and umh… an electric violin, but I don’t practice so I’m not good. Can’t even read notes actually, nor did I ever take a class. *giggle* I just like having musical instruments, because they look fun and you think learning it will be super easy, but at least with he guitar I know a little about what I’m doing. *LOL* I have to learn to play the violin sometime.

            • Alyx says:

              I knew you were kidding. 🙂 But hey, why don’t you put up a vid of you playing the guitar? You can link to it from your blog. 😆

              • Ash says:

                And out myself as a spanko?! Lol. No seriously Alyx… I really do suck at it. I wish I was good because I really like singing (in the car… alone… so no vid of that either). 😛

                • Alyx says:

                  Something tells me your secret spanko tendencies are not as secret as you think, Ash. *bg*

                • Ash says:

                  Umh… what do you mean? Do you think someone in my life suspect that I am? 😛

                • Alyx says:

                  Yes, I’m thinking that there is probably at least one person in your life who knows about it. Don’t you think so?

                • Ash says:

                  Umh… maybe one of my best friends, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a spanko either. XD Like I never said I was… but I did say once that it was very innocent and if my gf wanted me to spank her… I would. Besides… he sometimes smack my butt! Really hard too… but that is just for jokes. I don’t think he is not into girls. 😛
                  Other than that… I don’t think so… unless you recognized the symptoms in my childhood..l *cough*. Children aren’t very discrete when they play. But I am so different now, that they probably just thought it was a phase. *crossing fingers*

                • Alyx says:

                  Speaking of inadvertently outing oneself, I was moisturizing my canes (the ones TMT gave me) (and they say you’re not supposed to let them dry out, so one good way is to take a shower with them 😀 ), and I forgot them in the shower. Now I have a bathroom all to myself, so I was thinking, “Oh well, I’ll just put them away as soon as I get home from work. They should be safe for ONE DAY, right?”

                  Wouldn’t you know that would be the day my father needs to use my shower to clean up my niece?? When I got home they were in the shower, but lying on the ground, instead of propped up like I left them! I was freaking out about it, but Fizzy says that the way guys think, he was probably like, “Huh, that’s strange. Wonder what the heck that is? Oh well, who knows what women use to clean themselves!” and shrugged it off. *LOL* I sure hope she’s right! 😆

                • Ash says:

                  Well it depends on how they look. If I have just plain rattan sticks in my shower, my dad would probably think that I was making a kite (they are perfect for that because of the lightness) or gonna use them for gardening. 😀 I just planted a magic bean a couple of weeks ago, and it is longer than 6 feet now. Unless you father has a spanko mind and uses his imagination… hey I can’t even look at spatulas without smiling to myself.

                • Alyx says:

                  Making a kite or gardening! Wow, that’s a perfect excuse. Trust a brat to have an ingenious lie about anything! 😀 Except….why would it be in your SHOWER?? Anyway, it wouldn’t work for me because my canes are not plain, they have handles on them. With little loops to hang them up. I was going to say something about them being for exfoliating, and hope that was TMI and he wouldn’t want to know details. 😆 Fortunately Fizzy seems to be right and he hasn’t asked about them.

                  A magic bean, huh? Gonna climb up the beanstalk like Jack, Ash? Oh, and I can’t look at my spatula without smiling to myself either. Especially since Fizzy called it “evil”…heheheh.

                • Ash says:

                  Well if you found canes at you dad’s house, would you ask him about them? 😀

                • Alyx says:

                  Heheheheh….good point. 😀

                  *washing brain to remove even the thought of such a thing*

                • Ash says:

                  See? If he knew what they were… he is not going to mention it EVER. 😀

                • Ash says:

                  I mean… he is NOT into girls. *LOL* I don’t usually let men smack my butt! O_o

                • Fizzy says:

                  I totally agree with Ash, he’s not going to say anything even if!! Of course, your niece might…”Auntie, where are the sticks that were in the bathroom?” and then you’ll have to pretend they are for the two of you to play swordfighting with. *falling over laughing at that image*

                  That spatula IS evil, especially the way you use it, like you’re playing whack-a-mole on my butt. But it’s still not as bad as the ruler. The ruler will sleep with the fishes next time I get the opportunity. 😆

                • Ash says:

                  Sleep with the fishes? Sure you don’t want to gift the ruler to TMT, Fizzy? *angelface*

                • Alyx says:

                  Hush, you. TMT does not need any more implements, trust me. Even her PALM is enough of a deterrent! :p

                  Brats! *swat each for Fizzy and Ash*

                • Alyx says:

                  Oh, did I mention the mole you have on your butt? *evil chuckle* Just kidding. But I do love that ruler. It’s as light as balsa wood…you wouldn’t think it could impart the sting it does. As long as I make sure to mind the edge, I could probably go on forever! 😆

                • Fizzy says:

                  GENIUS Ash! I will send it to the UK. On a very slow boat. *plotting*

                • Ash says:

                  Maybe I should send TMT a gift as well. I hear some Scandinavian Tops spank with birch sticks they tie together. Doesn’t make much noise, but I hear it gives quite a sting!!!! Moahahahaw!!! 😈

                • Alyx says:

                  *grabbing Fizzy and Ash both and bending them over the back of a nearby sofa* *SWAT!* *SWAT!* *SWAT!* *SWAT!* If you’re not careful, brats, you’ll end up feeling those implements on your own bottoms, trust me! *glare*

                • Ash says:

                  Ow! I was only kiddinfg, ma’am! *cough* I swear! I’ve got your back, Alyx. Brat… umh I mean brat/switch solidarity! *angelface*

                  *whisper* maybe we shouldn’t have been so loud when plotting. 😦

          • sparrow says:

            WOW! Paiva Rocks! I’d like to hear her rendition of “Around the Loop” from that Burbeck album. Never knew there was such a thing as an electric ukulele.

            • Alyx says:

              She does rock, doesn’t she? Jake Shimabukuro is another uke phenom….it’s nice to see them taking what used to be a really traditional (or sometimes cheesy *g*) instrument to the next level!

  6. sandy says:

    I think it’s amazing how all the ancient traditions are kept alive and remain the same, despite the World constantly changing.

    A stunning display, not at all what I imagined…I would love to know how to make one of those elaborate head-dresses!

    Alyx, was this dance something you had to learn a little bit of as a child? I’m curious because we were forced to learn traditional Scottish country dancing (yuk)! Everyone hated it, and one of the only things I can remember is that all the boys had sweaty hands!

    Low pay and high cost of living…sounds all too familiar, at least you get Paradise though, all we get is freezingness! Winter is outstaying her welcome this year!

    Hope you’re well Alyx!
    Take care.

    • Alyx says:

      I was never sent to hula lessons as a child (unfortunately…I think it would be awesome to know how to move like that), but I was in a chorus class where we had to learn a bit of it. It is, as you might imagine, much harder than it looks! 😛 (Tradition is very important in the dance, so dancers make all their own instruments and gather ferns and flowers and leaves to make their own accessories/apparel. There are certain ceremonies involved too…it’s all very interesting and spiritual.)

      I like Scottish music and dancing! I love how you can listen to American bluegrass and Cajun music and hear the Celtic roots too. 🙂

      I heard you were having some brutal weather, Sandy. Glad to hear you’re still around though! Take care yourself and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. 😉

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