beat-up stump, with its embedded pipes and wire-mesh fence, was all
Lisa and I found left of Hula's Bar and Lei Stand in 2002. Us being
about eight years apart, we were two of countless generations of queer
kids in Hawai'i who were first exposed to a gay bar here. Hula's opened
in 1974, one year before I was of drinking age. The mirrored disco dance
floor. The popcorn machine. The toilet paper dispensers that provided
the perfect surface for cutting cocaine. The shabby wood fence that
we pushed down to escape the tear gas that homophobes would toss into
the bar. And the famous gigantic banyan tree laded with lights, pouring
onto the tables below.
lot that Hula's stood on was sold to developers in 1998 for yet another
Shopping Center. The last night at Hula's featured a slide show of its
24 years - celebrities and regulars. Just before the doors were shut
at 2am on Monday July 20th 1998, everyone held hands to form a circle
around the banyan tree. The developers planned to cut down the tree
despite objections from Waikiki residents and former bar patrons.
had read somewhere that 25 years before Hula's, this was a taxicab stand.
The taxis would park under the shade waiting for sailors and their girlfriends
to come out of the Kuhio Theater across the street, driving them back
to their hotels or back to base.