When the sun goes down, a completely different Honolulu comes to life. For most of us, it’s a time to watch television and then go to sleep, but, for some, it’s time for work. Meet the people who are up all night—making nightlife fun, keeping us safe, and making sure the city is ready to go when we wake up in the morning.
When the sun goes down, a completely different Honolulu comes to life. For most of us, it’s a time to watch television and then go to sleep, but, for some, it’s time for work. On the following pages, meet the people who are up all night—making nightlife fun, keeping us safe, and making sure the city is ready to go when we wake up in the morning.
Several Honolulu taxi drivers have been in the news recently as the victims of shootings or robberies, but Dieudonne Joseph, who drives a cab for City Taxi from 10 p.m. to 4:30 in the morning, says he doesn’t worry about it too much. “I’ve received much love from the local community,” says Joseph, originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “Some people don’t get picked up by other taxi drivers, for whatever reason. I myself pick them up, because I would receive the same treatment if I was on the sidewalk waiting for a taxi.”
Joseph loves the conversations he gets into, and the ever-changing scenery in front of his windshield, but says the real killer is sitting behind the wheel for hours on end: “Your back pretty much gives out on you after the fourth hour. But I get out and stretch, and I practice yoga, so that helps a bit.”
Julie Ranoa shakes it at the O Lounge.
|photo: Olivier Koning|
In a blur of turquoise fabric, knee-high boots, colored, spinning lights, pounding beats and glitter galore, stands Julie Ranoa, a part-time go-go dancer. “My job is to be visual eye candy, to put on a performance and get the crowd pumped,” she says. With all the stereotypes out there about dancers, Ranoa wants the distinction to be clear: She is a real dancer. With a background in jazz, tap, ballet, hip-hop and hula, she takes dance seriously. “It’s an art form and it’s hard work,” she says.
When she’s not moving to hip-hop beats in flashy, sequined outfits, Ranoa is a professional hula dancer, performing at venues including the Royal Hawaiian, the Kahala and the Convention Center. And just so you know she’s serious about dance, she just started her own company, Hula-la Dancers, recruiting dancers of all styles.
photo: Sergio Goes
KITV 4 Morning Show Co-anchor
By the time viewers are peering through the steam of their coffee at KITV 4’s Island Television News This Morning, airing from 5 to 7 a.m., co-anchor Dan Meisenzahl has been in the studio for hours. “I race through my e-mails, listen to the police scanners, scour the Web, put the show in order. We try to advance stories we’ve reported on the night before, or hopefully even scoop the morning papers.”
Meisenzahl begins work at 2 a.m., so he tries to be in bed by 7 p.m., but the off-kilter schedule takes its toll. He sometimes experiences something like jet lag’s disorientation, “where you just feel the floor drop out from under you.” The schedule does have its perks, though, especially for this father of two small girls. “I pick up my children at 2 in the afternoon, take them to swim class, dance class, do homework with them, read them books, until my wife comes home around 6. I love the show, and not many parents can say they spend three or four hours of quality time with their kids every day.”
|photo: Olivier Koning|
Hawai‘i’s Neighbor Islands boast some of the world’s best observatories, but O‘ahu residents don’t have to fly to the Big Island to glimpse some celestial action. The Hawaiian Astronomical Society hosts two open-to-the-public star-watching parties every month, one at Dillingham Airfield and another at Kahala Regional Park, where you can catch planets, comets and stars through members’ telescopes. These avid amateur astronomers will even help point out the highlights of that evening’s sky. HAS treasurer Jim MacDonald says, “Our members range from construction workers to medical doctors to PhDs. We even have whole families who come out with their kids.” Visit www.hawastsoc.org for more information.
Time to cycle generators on for the new day.
photo: courtesy HECO
Apart from when the occasional earthquake-induced power outage strikes, most people don’t think much about where their electricity comes from. Luckily, Roy Yokono has got everything under control. As the supervising load dispatcher for Hawaiian Electric Co., it’s Yokono’s job to keep the lights of the city on, overseeing the entire electrical system and standing ready for unexpected problems such as downed lines or local outages.
After O‘ahu’s electricity consumption peaks at 7:30 in the evening, Yokono cycles generators off as the demand load lessens. “Things quiet down after midnight,” he says. “That’s when we handle the switching orders for the work slated for the next morning.” On an average morning, HECO will switch out 15 circuits, re-routing electricity so line workers can safely perform installations, repairs and maintenance.
At around 4:30 a.m., the generators that cycled off earlier are brought back online in preparation for the new day.
That’s on a normal night. After October’s earthquake, Yokono spent 24 straight hours in the dispatch center, but, he says, “We have outages caused by storms every year. Those can be just as much work for us. It can get pretty hectic in here.”
The Living Room has a reputation as a rough-and-tumble kind of nightclub—fights regularly break out at the Fisherman’s Wharf bar, and a gun was pulled a few months back. But bouncer Ronald Colburn says that for the most part, people behave. “It helps [that I’m big].” His most interesting encounter as a bouncer involved a different kind of rough-and-tumble—a couple having sex in one of the property’s grounded boats. “The boat was facing us, and I kept seeing this girl’s face pop up,” he says. “She was mad that they were caught.”
You’ve been there before, the flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror, the nervous feeling in your stomach. Sgt. Albert Lee goes through it more than 20 times a night—except on the other side of the lights. “I figure if the police do their job, everyone else can enjoy the night,” he says. From 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Lee cruises the streets, breaking up bar fights, arresting drunk drivers and logging more than 100 miles a night. “It’s more exciting at night,” he says; robberies and assaults are, in his experience, much more common at night.
The Piranha Brothers head out of Bobby G’s.
|photo: Sergio Goes|
In its 28-year career, the famed local cover band The Piranha Brothers has played about 35 bars all over the island. Michael Piranha, the lead singer and guitar player, and drummer Tom Piranha partied hard in the ’80s—“There wasn’t a sunrise we didn’t miss,” says Michael—but these days, the band mates, which now include Thomas “T-Bone” Hinson in their number, are downright respectable, holding down day jobs (Michael has a fledgling radio deejay gig, while Tom is part-owner of Anna Bannana’s), juggling marriage (and, in some cases, divorce) and kids. “We’re purveyors of nightlife now,” says Michael. “We don’t just end up at places now; we go where we’re supposed to go, and then go home.”
photo: Sergio Goes
To make sure pastries are ready when you stop by Panya Bakery in the morning, Jessy Feng starts cranking up mixers and warming up ovens at 3 a.m. “We bake everything from scratch; nothing’s frozen,” Feng says. There’s a lot of work for Panya’s seven bakers—about 40 different kinds of goodies, including buns, danishes, rolls and cupcakes. They make an average of 40 of each kind, more for popular sellers such as the cream cheese donuts, of which Feng will bake 160.
If you’re thinking that getting up at 3 in the morning is hard, well, this is actually Feng’s second job of the night. He drives a cab from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. “Maybe I’m just a night person,” he laughs.
A saving grace of the job? “The AC is pretty good in here, so the heat’s not too bad, even with all the ovens on,” says Feng. 711 Queen St., 597-8880.
Jake “the Snake” Miyasato
Most radio stations these days have automated their graveyard shifts, so DJs no longer have to burn the midnight oil. Not KTUH, the University of Hawai‘i’s all-volunteer, student radio station. When engineering major Jake Miyasato debuted GenuineHI in January, a hip-hop radio show featuring all local artists, the 3 to 6 a.m. time slot traditionally given to KTUH newbies was a challenge. “It’s hard being live on the radio and reading PSAs when you’re so tired that the words start blurring together.”
The listeners have made it all worthwhile, though. “People stay up to listen to my show, and a lot of the local artists have never had airplay, so when I play their tracks, they’re so excited. It feels good to do that.”
Still, Miyasato was happy to upgrade to his current midnight to 3 a.m. slot on Sunday nights, which is early enough that he often invites guests on the show to MC or DJ. “People thought I was nuts trying to fill three hours with 100 percent Hawai‘i hip-hop,” he says. “But word has gotten out, and it keeps on growing.”
There are three types of people who hit the gym at night, according to 24-Hour Fitness member Mike Folling. “You’ve got the big muscle guys who look hardcore, the girls who look like strippers and the guys who work odd hours.” Folling falls under category three. After classes at the University of Hawai‘i and an eight-hour shift at Tiffany & Co., he often arrives at the gym around 11 p.m. But a night owl workout has its benefits. “When you get there late, it’s like your own personal gym,” he says.
|photo: Olivier Koning|
Queen’s Hospital Sleep Laboratory
Dr. Roger E. Yim
While you’re sleeping, Roger E. Yim is helping those who can’t. Every night of the week, the six beds of the Queen’s Hospital Sleep Laboratory are filled with patients suffering from a range of afflictions that interfere with a healthy 40 winks. The most common are obstructive sleep apneas, which halt a person’s breathing for 10 seconds or more at a time, but Dr. Yim and his staff of technicians also diagnose narcolepsy, insomnia and nightwalking.
With all the high-tech monitoring equipment in the room—infrared video camera, brain activity monitors, blood pressure gauges, breathing monitors—you’d think it would be impossible to actually sleep, but Yim says many patients are so sleep-deprived that it’s not a problem. “Sometimes we’ll be putting the electrodes on, and they’ll be falling asleep already,” he says. Just in case, though, the floors of the facility are carpeted, so that technician’s footsteps won’t disturb sleeping patients.
The busiest part of the night for bartender Shanthi G.
photo: Olivier Koning
If there’s one rule in the nightlife world, it’s this: Never piss off the bartender. The bartender is the supplier of good times, and by good times we mean alcohol. So what peeves Next Door’s bartender, Shanthi G.? “People who sit there and ponder what they want to drink,” he says. Before you step up to the counter, pick your poison and make it snappy, because a couple fast-paced nights of work can yield an entire month’s rent.
A typical shift at the downtown hot spot lasts about seven or eight hours, ending around 3:30 a.m. And after a long night of serving Honolulu’s partygoers—the fun, the annoying and the unruly alike—he heads out for a cold beer of his own at his favorite afterhours spot, the Living Room. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” he jokes.
Jonathan Muratsuka returns from a dive.
|photo: Olivier Koning|
Imagine swimming off the east coast of O‘ahu at 11 p.m., with a single beam of high-voltage light as your only peephole into the dark ocean. Fish and coral appear in front of you out of nowhere. Imagine not discovering a shark’s presence until it’s an arms-length away. Now, imagine finding this peaceful and relaxing. For skin diver Jonathan Muratsuka, it is.
Armed with nothing more than a dive knife and spear gun, Muratsuka frequently dives at night, favoring spots such as Kualoa, Kane‘ohe, La‘ie and Waimanalo. “Night diving gives the opportunity to go after different fish and makes it easier to go after the fish I like,” he says. With a couple buddies in tow, Muratsuka hunts his favorite fish, uhu, kumu, oio as well as lobster and crab between sundown and 1 a.m.
photo: Olivier Koning
Hagadone Printing Press
Hagadone Printing Co.’s presses run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, churning out mailers, pamphlets and magazines—such as the pages you’re reading right now. Of Hagadone’s 150-person staff, 30 work the graveyard shift from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., monitoring overnight jobs. HONOLULU Magazine’s issues are often among them; it took 20 hours to print out our November Holiday Annual issue, about 35,000 copies, in all.
Hoops after Dark
Basketball at night? Turns out there’s no better time to play. “It’s not so hot,” says J.R. Torres, a 26-year-old loan officer from ‘Aiea.
Since moving from Puerto Rico six years ago, Torres has been a regular at Paki Park’s outdoor community courts next to the Waikiki fire station and near the Honolulu Zoo that consistently host some of the most competitive, no-crybabies-allowed action anywhere in the state.
B-ball diehards like Torres enjoy even the off nights, when there are only enough players for 3-on-3, but the best nighttime pickup games are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he says. All types of people—including the firefighters—show up to play, and this slick ball handler enjoys explaining mortgages and the like with anyone who will listen between games. Though the trash talk can occasionally fly, “It’s a good atmosphere,” says Torres. “It’s a good thing to be able to sweat it out on the court, and still be a sport about it after.”
photo: Sergio Goes
How many people does it take to change the light bulbs of O‘ahu’s streetlights? Just two. Michael Corcoran and Daniel Chun from the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Facility Maintenance go out every night, each in a truck equipped with a cherry-picker lift, to find and fix streetlights that have been reported to be out. In one eight-hour shift, they’ll each drive as many as 100 miles, replacing about 30 lightbulbs along the way. “I never did want to count how many lights there are in all of O‘ahu, but we’ve got to cover the whole island,” says Corcoran, the acting foreman.
Although he occasionally deals with darkness-loving residents who would prefer that the streetlights in front of their house stay out, Corcoran says the biggest danger he usually faces is a face full of gecko droppings and insect carcasses, if the wind’s blowing the wrong way. “It’s like spitting in the wind, so you try to stand in a position where, when you open up the light, all the collected stuff goes flying in the other direction,” he says. Notice a burnt-out streetlight in your neighborhood? Call 564-6113 to report it.
Sunday Evening Mass
While some party, others worship. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, at the top of Bishop Street offers evening mass every Sunday at 6 p.m. with a performance by the Cathedral Samoan choir.
Haunted Hawaiian Nights
Dates/Times 7 to 8 p.m. and 8:30 to 10 p.m. every Friday for the walking tours; 6:30 to 10 p.m. every Saturday for bus tours; midnight to 3 a.m. on the third Saturday of every month for a special midnight tour.
Location The tour typically meets at King Kamehameha statue fronting Ali‘iolani Hale at 417 S. King Street, but certain tours meet at other locations.
Cost Kama‘aina rate is $35 for walking tours, and $50 for bus and midnight tours.
Snooze in the Zoo
Dates/Times There are 15 different dates in 2007; the next one is on March 31. 5:30 p.m. to 9 a.m. the next day.
Location Honolulu Zoo.
Cost $45 for non-members ages 4 and up; $40 for members.
Exploring the Reef at Night
Dates/Times The next reef walks are on Dec. 2 and 17, 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Location Waikiki Aquarium, 2777 Kalakaua Ave.
Cost $12/adult and $10/child for non-members; $10/$8 for members. Ages 5 and up; children must be accompanied by an adult.
First Friday Art Walk
Dates/Times 5 to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of every month.
Dates/Times 7 to 11 p.m. on Jan. 13 for Starlight Ball 2007; 6-9 p.m. on the last Friday of every month for regular parties (February-October).
Location Honolulu Academy of Arts, 900 S. Beretania St.
Cost $75 individual tickets for Starlight Ball 2007. Regular parties are free for Academy members and $7 non-members (which is refunded if you join that evening). Free parking at the Academy Art Center on the corner of Beretania and Victoria Streets.
Salsa After Hours
Dates/Times 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. every Thursday, with lessons between 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Location Rumours nightclub in the Ala Moana Hotel.
Cost $5 before 9 p.m. and $7 after.