Past the Top of the Morning
By Becky Maltby
A guy in a kilt walks into the bar—this is not a joke, this really happened—and I wonder if I ought to lay off the Dewar's or if this is just a typical night at O'Toole's Irish Pub. Celtic Waves has been playing jigs, hornpipes and airs since 9, and the crowd—all five of us—is psyched for a strathspey or a reel of three. Clark, the flutist, tells us the fellow in the kilt and his companions are from the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society of Hawai‘i. The dancers clear the floor of tables and tell Clark they're ready for a thirty-two-bar jig six times through. "We're going to try this," Clark says with a leprechaun twinkle in his eye. "We hope we end at the same time the dancers do."
Celtic Waves dives into "Double Jig from Nowhere," a Clark original, and the dancers begin skipping in a pattern. Some forget where to go. They nudge each other, and those who know the pattern flash mild looks of panic at the lost ones. They want this to work; they have an audience of five (to heck with the troglodytes who'd rather watch TV at the bar than join the Tartan merriment). I almost laugh at how infectious the dancers are, but I don't want to offend—they're really entertaining, and not without skill. Lawson, the guitarist, yells "hup!" and the song—along with the dance—ends.
The scene repeats with another tune. Two more hours of nudges, skipping, a whooshing kilt and O'Toole's' brick walls and wood floors ... I've found my pot of gold and it's only Wednesday.
O'Toole's Irish Pub, 902 Nu‘uanu Ave., 536-4138
By Jeela Ongley
It's midnight. The sidewalk in front of Lotus Soundbar in Waikiki is a river of tourists, military, ex-pats and locals.
Lotus is the brainchild of a rare breed of nightclub entrepreneur: people who actually care about music. "We've been planning this for over a year," owner Paul Shih says, ushering us in to the multilevel club that's seen over a million dollars worth of renovation, including a sound system reputed to be the best in the state. Custom-designed amps and expert tuning ensure a warm sound that doesn't ring in the ears when DJs from around the globe throw down.
The lounge at street level is all low couches and sultry lighting, perfect for people-watching. A glamorous, tight-knit gaggle of girls dances to the laid-back house grooves of resident DJ K-ing, while a few guys chill on the sidelines, looking for a chance to get closer. A handsome stranger buys us Grey Goose cocktails (I downgrade to Absolut on my own tab); we linger a minute before heading upstairs.
The dance floor is packed, the sound system is banging, and we're stoked to find seats on the red couches next to the roped-off mini-VIP area where a Japanese celebrity and his party take advantage of the bottle service to see and be seen.
Up a narrow flight of stairs, we join our party on level three, dancing and glancing over the floor to survey the crowd. There's our hot cocktail waitress, a clean-cut black guy with his blond girlfriend, a Goth chick, hiphoppers in all-over-print hoodies and model-types in sequins. The crowd is random but united on a music-loving mission to enjoy the evening. Is it 3 a.m. yet? The soundbar pulses with music and light, bold eyes meet in the darkness, look away, disappear into the crowd.
Lotus Soundbar, 2301 Kuhio Ave., 924-1688