Hula Workshop
of Southern New England

Traditional and new hula instruction and performances. Hawaiian language and culture. Luau and party consultation and entertainment. Offering beginner through advanced hula classes and private hula lessons.
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Come and try out Hula Workshop's style of teaching.

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No dance experience?
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Did you know?
Dramatic acting, public speaking, and ballet are each excellent backgrounds for learning hula.

Ka Leo o Ke Kai - Voice of the Sea


I've been watching the new Hawaii Five-O (on CBS). I've got some issues with it (including how it promotes using the US military for civilian law enforcement), but I'm enjoying it. In fact, I DVR it and the neighbor ladies come over every Wednesday to watch each week's episode and drink wine.

Kono, McGarrett's supposedly Hawaiian sidekick, is played by Grace Park, a Korean-Canadian (née American) actor. But the Kono in the original series was Zulu, a real Hawaiian. Zulu's given name was Gilbert Kauhi, and he was from Kalapana on the Big Island.

His role was more "Yes, Boss" than the current Kono's--but so was everyone's, all in utter deference to Jack Lord's McGarrett in the original show. Still, he interjected a lot of authenticity, with offhand comments that introduced Hawaiian words or customs.

I never really watched the original Five-O till after I'd lived in Honolulu. In fact, I had zero interest in Hawai`i until I moved there to study Polynesian languages, which I had a lot of interest in, particularly Samoan--and that was how I met Zulu.

After my East-West Center grant ran out, I decided to work as a cocktail waitress in Waikiki. I'm the kind of person who always goes for the best, and I thought the best was Duke Kahanamoku's nightclub in Waikiki.

Duke's was in the center of things in the International Marketplace, drew tourist crowds and local big spenders, had a Polynesian show and a music, dance, and comedy show headlined by Zulu. To me it meant the cocktail waitress Bigtime, and big tips.

It was a plum job, and the only reason I got it was that the manager, Rocky Savaiiagea, was Samoan, and I'd put on my resume that I was studying Samoan language.

Zulu had a great voice and a big presence. He sang American popular songs in his show, including Green, Green Grass of Home (toward the end of the show). There was a live band to back him. And there were dancers, who did some hula and some stuff from musicals, most notably Fan Tan Fannie from Flower Drum Song, whose lyrics impressed me almost as much as the girls' red satin and black lace costumes.

Z (that's what people who worked at Duke's called him) did some standup in the show, and he modified the jokes when the audience was predominately locals. I still remember some of them, but I really can't say them here without offending one or another ethnic group. In the 1970s at least, poking fun at the well-known stereotypes for each ethnic group was high humor.

After his show, Z always had a double brandy alexander. One of us waitresses always brought it to his dressing room. I tried a brandy alexander after that and thought it was pretty good.

The show was good, well staged, and Zulu had good comic timing. I can't even remember why I quit working at Duke's, but the last time I saw Zulu, he was on on the TV news, crying as Pele took Kalapana, covering his home--and some of my favorite places--with lava.

Zulu died young, aged 66, of complications of diabetes. When I look at the old Five-O episodes featuring him--mostly for the first time--I appreciate his achievements in a way a twentysomething grad student couldn't, and I admire the man's many talents.

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