Field Notes: Join the Dork Side at Nerd Nite Honolulu

Field Notes explores Honolulu’s vast and varied scenes and subcultures. This month: Nerd Nite Honolulu.
Nerd Nite
A geeky gathering at Anna o’Brien’s.
PHotos: Aaron K. Yoshino


What it is

Self-proclaimed nerds meet up at Anna O’Brien’s on the first Tuesday of every month to socialize, drink and learn a thing or two from local guest speakers. Presentation topics vary from month to month and include anything from sea monsters and space cadets to computer games and cat poop.


“Each Nerd Nite Honolulu event is unique and completely different from the others,” explains Nerd Nite co-boss Beth Lenz. “It allows people to share what they are most passionate about and for folks to learn about all sorts of topics they may not normally hear about in their day-to-day.”


Most nights don’t have an overarching theme or even remotely related topics: Nerd Nite No. 58 covered cloud taxonomy, exploding testicles and the secret to a long life. However, sometimes all of the presenters come from the same organization, such as Bishop Museum or the Hōkūle‘a.


How it works

Nerd Nite feels a lot like a college science class—or, at least, how we always imagined it would be when we were still in high school. Yes, you’re learning how to keep your lungs from exploding when diving 100 feet below sea level, but you’re also in a bar and the instructor just told you to take a drink every time she says the word “slug.” (At a recent Nerd Nite, Bishop Museum malacology researcher and collection manager Norine Yeung discussed rat lungworm disease—every other word was slug.)


There’s usually time between the three entertaining-yet-educational presentations to listen to beats by DJ Globes, mingle with fellow science enthusiasts and, of course, order more drinks.


The best part? Admission is free (unlike college with those pesky tuition fees) and you’re encouraged to bring your own food. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. but you may want to get there early—die-hard Nerd Niters, as Lenz calls them, will be out in full force (at least 100 of them) and seating is limited.

  Nerd Nite


How it started

Honolulu is one of more than 100 cities around the world (including Amsterdam, Sydney and Tokyo) to have its own branch of Nerd Nite. The main branch was founded in 2003, but Nerd Nite Honolulu—the only one in the state of Hawai‘i—officially started back in 2013.


Who goes

Since the event is held in a bar, everyone there is 21 or older (make sure to bring your ID!). Other than that, the main thing that the mix of regular and new attendees have in common is a desire to learn about cool things in a chill environment.


What to wear

We’re not saying there’s a dress code, but at least 10 of us were wearing Star Wars shirts on the night Bishop Museum scientists taught us all about physics, snails and octopuses.



Natalie SchackNatalie Schack, 30

writer, Makiki

“It’s like going to class! Except the class is in Anna’s, the curriculum skips over boring bits and goes straight to whimsical bits (clouds! sea monsters!)—oh, and everybody’s drinking.”




Matt MotterMatt Motter, 34

unemployed, Kāneʻohe

“One thing I enjoy is the music. They play a lot of music that’s kind of similar to my favorite type of music (trance), so that’s part of it.”





Shelley BrandtShelley Brandt, 24

program director, Saint Louis Heights

“I really enjoy this kind of atmosphere. It’s kind of like Ted Talks but on a different scale. More local and more intimate.”