Its Chinese New Year! We only realized this last night. We were walking back from dinner and saw a large group of people in matching red t-shirts in front of a Chinese restaurant. They were standing around a pickup truck, and as we passed we saw that they had the head pieces of two lion dance costumes in the truck – they were there to bless the restaurant.
Back at our hotel I was talking to the desk clerk and saw a red envelope on the counter. I asked and he confirmed that not only was it New Year’s but that the lion would be coming to the hotel presently. He would come to the three hotels on our block. Soon we could hear the drums next door, so we settled into the lobby. People with red t-shirts began to arrive and discussions with the front desk ensued. Soon they began to head upstairs, which led the guy sitting next to me to say ‘Oh, they’re going to do Hula’s. We should go up there.’
And here is where I have to interrupt my story to tell you about Hula’s. We knew there was a bar on the second floor of our hotel – when we walk on the street we can hear people talking upstairs – but we hadn’t been up. We walked up – the doors were wide open, so in we went. A pool table by the front. Television screens all over, all tuned to the same station, sound off, commercial running. I figured it would be some sports event, but when the program came back it was ‘American Idol’. The volume came up and people were actually paying attention. Looking around – the clientele was mostly very fit, perfectly groomed young men. Yes, it turns out that the anonymous bar in our hotel is the gay friendly bar in Waikiki. So – what the heck, we ordered a drink and settled in to wait for the lion.
The lions are gorgeous with crazy LED lit eyes. They can blink their eyes and open and close the mouth, which is convenient because one must, of course, feed the lion for good luck in the coming year:
Yeah – like that!
Hah – that lion looks like he’s about to drink my gin and tonic!
There were two lions and they were very thorough – all through the bar, the kitchen, the office, everywhere.
So – that was an interesting way to bring in the Chinese New Year! Tonight we met up with another crew working their way through the Royal Hawaiian Hotel Shopping concourse – they were very busy in the food court, shaking their heads and winking their eyes and ‘eating’ red envelopes presented by the proprietors . In some cases a red envelope was taped above the door- to attract the lion’s attention? Presented a bit of a challenge for the guy wearing the head, but he managed to pluck it down!
So - Gong Xi Fa Cai! and all the best for the Year of the Rabbit!