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: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/category/6743/video?clipId=5804628&autostart=true
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”! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xr1Wd17w-g
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! 😀 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPlNFq9xg34