Celebrate NextDoor’s Anniversary with a Look Back at Photos from Its Beginnings

After 18 years, NextDoor is still going strong; now a trove of old photos documents the early days of the eclectic Honolulu venue.





When business partners Chris Kahunahana and Sergio Goes decided to take over an old Chinatown venue in 2005 to support Hawai‘i’s underground filmmaking scene, they couldn’t have foreseen what the next 18 years would hold.


The nightclub and performance space NextDoor has become a cornerstone of the arts district, hosting DJs such as Steve Aoki and Diplo; rappers Shwayze and Cardi B; Swedish electronic band Little Dragon; as well as up-and-coming local artists, including Goes’ son Gabriel, a solo artist who also plays guitar and sings for the band Backset.


The main reason for founding NextDoor was to provide a venue for the Cinema Paradise Independent Film Festival after it lost its space at Restaurant Row, says Andrea Torres, Goes’ widow. “It was their time, and NextDoor was their artist hui.” Kahunahana and Goes brought in Miguel Innis as a third partner. As a venue at the grassroots level, the new space served as an incubator for local musicians, artists and filmmakers and helped put Honolulu’s Chinatown on the map as an art and culture renaissance swept the neighborhood.


FAST FACT: NextDoor first opened its doors in late June 2005 after the site had been empty for a decade.


Now, thanks to the discovery of a treasure trove of old photos from its earliest days, we can take a step back in time and see how the eclectic venue got started. Most of the photos were taken by Goes, an award-winning, self-taught local photographer and videographer—and a regular contributor to HONOLULU Magazine from the 1990s until his death in 2008—and archived by Torres, the owner and director of Samadhi Hawai‘i. See the photos above.


In 2023, a typical week at NextDoor includes live music from 7 to 10 p.m. on at least three days, with DJs playing to the late-night crowd from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. The club also hosts art events throughout the month, and special events like burlesque shows, punk shows, stand-up comedy and charity fundraisers.


Kahunahana sold NextDoor in 2012. “The talent throughout the years has changed, but at its core, NextDoor has always been about giving artists a platform to showcase their skills, and I think we have stuck to that vision,” says Dan Mangum, NextDoor’s marketing director. “It might not be film showcases these days, but Chris and Sergio’s vision was to give creatives a space to create art, and we strive to keep that alive. That’s what separates NextDoor from any other bar.”


43 N. Hotel St., nextdoorhi.com, @nextdoorhi



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Photo: Courtesy of Tracy Chan

About the Author

Tracy Chan is a Chinatown-based freelance journalist and photographer who has been covering Hawai‘i events, nightlife and dining for the past 15 years. A journalism graduate of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, she is the former associate editor of Metromix Honolulu and a founding member of Frolic Hawai‘i’s predecessor, Nonstop Honolulu.