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What to do in Hawaii: A shot guide to Waikiki clubs

by Victor Venson, staff writer


Whether you have lived in Honolulu all your life or are a freshman who just got off the plane, you need current information on the latest in clubs, nightlife, and special events if you are to make the most of your entertainment options.

Honolulu has a variety of bars and clubs, most of them clustered in the self-proclaimed party realm that is Waikiki. Although there are a few nice places around downtown and Ala Moana, Waikiki is the setting for a custom-made night out.

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Most bars and clubs are 21+, which means that there is no chance of getting in if you are under 21. The bouncers are ruthless about this. But if you are over the sacred number, generally sober, and properly attired (no flip-flops, tank tops or shorts) then you’re usually in.

There are a few spots that are open for younger crowds (18-20) one or two nights a week but don’t expect to be served alcohol.

Hard Rock Café is open for the 18-20 crowd on Wednesdays. This spot is more of a café, chillout place than a genuine nightclub. The line tends to get very long after 10 p.m., so be there early.

Another place that hosts an 18-20 crowd is the restaurant Todai which gets a nocturnal makeover into the club Deep Blue on Fridays and Saturdays. This space has two levels and two dance floors. The DJ’s are spinning R’n’B and house records from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and the crowd is laid-back, local, and very happy. There is also a free, all-you-can-eat-but don’t-eat-too-much buffet.

Blue Tropix on Kapiolani Blvd. is another hot spot that invites those under 21 Mondays through Saturdays. Also a restaurant that converts into a nightclub, this one is a more genuine R’n’B and soul club with live monkeys in a glass tank behind the bar. A huge dance floor takes up most of the space and often gets packed as the night rolls on. The line is split into two sections, one for those under 21 and one for those over 21. Be there early or expect to wait in line for at least 30 minutes.

With a six million restoration and an extensive collection of Egyptian art, Zanzabar has created the interior extraordinaire. With a dance floor that can hold more than 100 and with room for more than 800 people, Zanzabar has been, until recently, the place to be, to see and to be seen. Yet, despite the facelift, its popularity has varied from month to month, with a crowd of clubbers and tourists one weekend and empty the next. Mr. DJ regulates the crowd’s mood at the only dance floor playing Hip-Hop, Top 40, and forceful house with a late hour transition, 3 a.m. to 4 a.m., into hard techno. Zanzabar invites their 18+ audience on Sundays and Mondays.

Splendor, magnificence, and brilliance are all adjectives appropriate for The Wonder Lounge at W hotel, the hottest spot in town right now. This is the place where the beautiful people go, and those who want to be seen with them, to shake their stuff to brilliant house music synchronized with live bongo drums. The second dance floor plays R’n’B and Hip-Hop. The guests range from early 20s to late 30s and sometimes even 40s. The splendid European interior, the Long Island drinks, the rhythms, and the beautiful wardrobes bring mingling to a high art, if only until 2 o’clock. The Maze, across from Zanzabar, is one of the largest club spaces in Honolulu, with 10,000 square feet and three dance floors, each with its own bar. Surprisingly, while the dance floors are crowded, the bars are usually half-empty, which makes ordering (and drinking) much faster and easier. The first dance floor, officially known as “Paradox Lounge,” is more often referred to as “the-room-with-the-couches.” Here is where the more sociable drink to the excellent beats of Funk, Disco, and House-a-la-Scottie Soul (the resident DJ) and his friends.

The second floor is the “Red Room.” Here, red lamps make the interior look diabolical. This is where the chase for the opposite sex often begins (and abruptly ends if done wrong). The music played here is Hip-Hop and R’n’B. The last floor is the “Maze Arena.” House, Hard House, Techno, and Trance follow each other in an extravagant musical frenzy. This is the largest room with the largest dance floor and fewest people on it. Few people know that there is pleasant seating, often available, in a mezzanine above the dance floor.

The crowd at the Maze varies with its dance floors and with the nights of each week. Hip-Hoppers, soul lovers, funk kids, ravers, and players all gather on Fridays and Saturdays to enjoy the delights of The Maze. Also, this is one of the few clubs that occasionally has after-hours, from 3:30 a.m., when the under- 21 audience is welcome.

Wave Waikiki has, for the last 18 years, been one the most reliable attractions in Waikiki’s club life when it comes to luring the largest crowds. Wave Wakiki has probably seen more faces than any other spot in Honolulu.

Students, strippers, tourists, and locals comprise the interesting people you’ll find yourself mingling with long after the dark has set in. One reason for its popularity is that anything goes here, including flip-flops, shorts, and tank tops. The Wave has put a few famous faces on the stage, including Ministry of Sound DJs and John Kelley (US) amongst others. Wet T-shirt and bikini contests occur occasionally. The DJs here confirm that the Wave is one of the best venues to hear good beats from every music genre possible.

A new happening for this summer is The Glitter & Glamour Experience at Wave by The Pussycat Project crew who also handle the turntables at Wonder Lounge every Friday. (The after-hours for Wonder Lounge are held at The Wave every Friday starting 2 a.m.) The Pussycat Lounge encourages their guests to dress as “outrageously fabulous as possible” for their Glitter & Glamour sessions that take place every month on a given date. “A high-society ball without the snobs,” they call it. New and different DJ talents are promised every one of these nights.

The Pussycat Lounge is at the Wave every Tuesday. The 18-and-over people are welcome every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Check the Web site for upcoming events and calendar.

Pipeline Café, one of the few hot places to go to outside Waikiki is located among the warehouses near Ward Avenue and Ala Moana Boulevard. The hottest nights here are Tuesdays and Fridays when the mostly local crowd gathers to hop-to-top 40s and Hip-Hop. No House or Trance here.

There are two floors, with a huge dance floor downstairs and pool tables, darts and VIP/Karaoke room upstairs. Pipeline offers $1 drinks all night long (!) every Tuesday and Thursday, a Happy Hour menu Monday through Saturday (4 p.m. to 9 p.m.) with plate snacks such as chicken tenders and wings for $2. The “Foreplay Fridaze” on Fridays offer $1 champagne for the ladies, $3 Heinekens, and giveaways. Saturdays hosts the “Cobalt Room,” with $3 Foster’s as well as Skyy Blue.

Pipeline has been and still is well recognized among the locals and students as the hotspot outside Waikiki. Celebrities like Cuba Gooding, Jr., L.A. Lakers’ Rick Fox, Matt Damon, and the actual Mike Tyson have visited Pipeline over the years. The dress code is synonymous with the attitudes of Hawai‘i—laid back and indifferent.

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