Western Washington University Hawaiian club, Hui ‘o Hawai’i, performed a wide variety of Polynesian dances at their annual luau on Saturday, May 16.
Hui ‘o Hawai’i is the group of students who are either originally from Hawaii or simply interested in Hawaiian culture.
The luau is one of the biggest annual events hosted by the club throughout the year. Rachel Umetsu, Hui ‘o Hawai’i president, said all of their club members start teaching and learning basic hula dance, which is Hawaiian traditional dance, and other Polynesian ethnic dances during the beginning of winter quarter to prepare for the show in May every year.
For this year, the theme of the luau was “Journey to the Polynesian Islands,” Umetsu said. The sub-region of Polynesia includes Samoa, Tahiti, New Zealand, Hawaii and over 1000 of small islands that are located in the central southern Pacific Ocean.
From Hawaii, they performed both traditional hula dances and more modern-style dancing that was similar to hula but with modern reggae music.
Tahitian, another type of dance in the show that originates in Tahiti, was dramatically faster than Hawaiian hula, and the performers were shaking hips as fast as possible.
Two of Samoan dances are both like modern-style hula played with pop, cheerful melody, that the audience seemed to enjoy.
Haka, the ancestral war chant from New Zealand, was another part of the program at the luau. All the male, half-naked performers had their bodies oiled were hitting their chests and showing off aggressiveness.
“I loved seeing Haka,” Cole Kirkpatrick, brother of one of the performers in the show, said. “I’m from Hawaii, they represented everything really well.”
The audience filled all the seats in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room before the show started.
People at the luau were enjoying the Hawaiian atmosphere, music and performers with Hawaiian-style dresses.
“I loved watching all the different dances,” freshman Adriana Boulos said. “I wish I could be a part of something like this.”
The show started with the playing of Hawaii Ponoi’i, the state song of Hawaii, and the audience joined together to sing it.
During the middle of the show, they also served dinner to audience, provided by a local Hawaiian restaurant.
People enjoyed Hawaiian food while watching the show as if they had been actually in Hawaii even only for a couple hours.
“[Luau] was just awesome and so attractive,” Abel Nakao, an exchange student from Asia University in Japan, said.
Umetsu said tickets for the luau were sold out quickly this year.
“It was all sold out less than a week and a half,” she said. “It was good thing to sell out, but it was too fast.”
She said they have recognized that the event is getting more and more popular, since tickets are sold out every year. Many people who couldn’t get a ticket last year were over compensating and purchased it much earlier this year, and that made tickets sold out unbelievably fast, she said.
Because the luau is the same weekend as Back2Belingham every year, many alumni also come to see the show, she said.
“We have a kind of extra publicity because of Back2Bellingham,” Umetsu said. “But our luau is not for Back2Bellingham.”
“Next year, we are probably going to get a bigger space,” she said. “[The current venue] is just multipurpose room now. It’s just too small.”