Hilo’s Sig Zane and the Ho‘ike

Damon Tucker just posted about an interesting video interview with Sig Zane. Sig is the well-known clothing and fabric designer in Hilo whose clothes are absolutely da kine. And I’m sure Merrie Monarch week must be his busiest time of the year, because all the hula enthusiasts swarm to his shop. He has the loveliest clothes.

Sig Zane’s shop (even the shop is beautiful) is at 122 Kamehameha Ave Hilo, HI 96720. Phone (808) 935-7077.


Sig is married to Nalani Kanaka‘ole, one of the kumu hula of Halau O Kekuhi*, and is a member of the halau. He danced at tonight’s Ho‘ike (the free, exhibition night of Merrie Monarch). I don’t think I’ve seen him dance before. I loved seeing it.

I loved the whole Ho‘ike performance. And Halau O Kekuhi’s first number: The hair on my arms stood up — such power, strength, confidence, knowing. Would a hula performance 400 years ago have looked much different?

They performed for about an hour altogether, from the tiniest keiki on up, and it was great. Lovely auana, strong and powerful kahiko. Just amazing.

I’m really looking forward to the first night of the hula competition tomorrow night.

* I went searching for an article about Halau O Kekuhi to link to, and found a Hawaiian Airline in-flight magazine article by, um, me. I have a short and scattered memory, don’t I?!


Hula at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, and Tears

It’s Merrie Monarch week and it’s absolutely the best week of the year here in Hilo. 

We went down to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel this afternoon and watched the free hula performance by Puanani Crumb’s Halau Hula O Hilo Hanakahi.


It was wonderful. The music, the hula, the crowd. Hula Legend Uncle George Na‘ope was there, wheelchair-bound now, wearing a green running suit, white Crocs and then of course his hat and his wide gold bracelets running up his arm. 

I just love it all. The tiny kids who dance. The older ones who dance and who are so, so lovely. The crowd, appreciating. The smell of the plumeria lei the dancers are wearing. The emotion. The power of the hula. The stories.

Drew Kekaualua was singing with them, Pua’s nephew, and she told a story about how he and his brothers would back up their mother when she used to dance to the song “U‘ilani.”

She said, “But then I realized they don’t really know the song. And I wanted them to know it, so I taught it to them. And then I taught my alaka‘i to dance it. I’ve never seen anybody dance that song.”

She said she told her nephew (who has a beautiful voice) to sing it the way his mother used to sing it; not the way they all sing now.

So they played U‘ilani, and he sang it the way his mother used to sing it, and her alaka‘i danced. Pua dedicated the song to Drew’s mother, Bobbie Kekaualua, who was in the audience.

It was beautiful. It was beautiful. Bobbie stood watching, rapt, her hands making the moves of the hula, a big smile on her face. She was moved. Afterward, she told me she cried.

I absolutely love Merrie Monarch week, when all the focus is on hula, and stories and beauty and all that culture comes to the forefront.


Big Merrie Monarch Push at BigIslandOnTheCheap.com

It’s almost Merrie Monarch week here on the Big Island. I love this week, when Hilo town shimmers and comes alive with people and flowers and hula everywhere.

Over at Big Island On The Cheap, we are going to be hitting Merrie Monarch hard. We’ll have a bunch of features — where to eat, half- and full-day trips to take around Hilo, all the exciting things going on with Merrie Monarch itself, some great local coupon deals that are exclusive to our readers (whether residents or visitors),  and some other surprises, too, which are already in the works. 

picture-5I just finished writing up our first Merrie Monarch-related post. It’s about taking a day trip up to the Volcano area, and it’s up now. 

So that’s what I’ve been working on.

Are you coming over for Merrie Monarch? Attending yourself and sitting on those hard hard benches (totally worth it)? Watching on TV? Sitting this one out?


Needed: Merrie Monarch Tickets

Does anybody have extra Merrie Monarch tickets I could buy from them (at cost)?

Photo Thomas Tunsch. Used by permission

One year my friend was on a mission to get Merrie Monarch tickets and asked a stranger in line at Starbucks, and said stranger indeed had extra tickets.

I haven’t asked at Starbucks yet, but how about you, online world? Surely you’re more effective than hitting up strangers at Starbucks!

I’d throw in a signed copy of my Exploring Historic Hilo book, if it helped.

Please ask around, tell your friends, all that. Let me know! I would really appreciate any help.