May 022010
Authors: Sara Michael

What began as a quiet tribute to Bob Marley, accompanied by exotic flora and food and buoyed with the promise of dancers, soon transformed into an island getaway at Hui O Hawaii’s 23rd annual Lu’au Sunday night.

Bronze skin and dark hair mingled with fairer complexions to bring the lu’au to life, ending CSU’s Asian Fest celebration of Asian-Pacific cultures with the themed party, “An evening in paradise.” 

The food served, including Kalua pig, Lomi Lomi salmon and Maui pineapple, was flown in from Hawaii for the event, along with flower arrangements and other plants, creating an atmosphere that the Hui O Hawaii club was proud to call authentic.

Exhibiting everything from purely rhythm-based movement to traditional hula and even Tahitian hip gyrating, the dancing highlighted the evening with two dance groups, the “Na Wahine,” or the women (the older dancers), and the “Na Kaikamahine,” the daughters (aged 4 to 12).  

Sophomore sociology major Melissa Sotela joined the Tahitian dancers last semester after being encouraged by one of her friends and has been training all of this semester to perform at the luau. 

“I like the culture and the movement,” she said. “It’s almost like Latin dance, with the hips.”

Outfitted in black halter tops and various colored sarongs, the Tahitian dancers also wore grass belts around their hips to emphasize their dancing.

This past weekend, Sotela said, the dancers trained nearly seven hours a day to prepare for their Sunday night performance.

“I’m exhausted,” she said, laughing. “But it was very exciting. Now I can breathe.”

While the hula dancers are nearly completely composed of Hawaiian natives, Sotela said that the Tahitian crew is more of a mixture. She is from Colorado with Mexican heritage, one of many examples of the diversity of the girls.

Jodie Mishima, a veterinary medicine graduate student, brought her culture with her from the island of Oahu and has been hula dancing for two years. 

Hui O Hawaii aims to help Hawaiian students get accustomed to college life away from the islands, organizing potlucks and winter clothing shipping trips as well as forming a general community to help the adjustment. The luau is one event that they share with the community, attracting people from all over northern Colorado.

Josh Wallace, a freshman engineering major from Oahu, was one of two emcees for the night. Wallace described the lu’au as an event to showcase Hawaiian culture, providing a venue for the Hawaiian students to share their home and entertain.

“Whatever needed to come from Hawaii came from Hawaii,” he said, to make the event as spectacular and as accurate as possible.

Staff writer Sara Michael can be reached at

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