So You Think You Can Dance at Level 4?

The highlight of my night at Level 4 last Friday, Aug. 15, was running into Mark Kanemura, the Hawaii contestant from "So You Think You Can Dance," pictured with me and a friend.  At right, are Level 4 dancers in the middle of a choreographed dance routine.

photos: Christine Hitt

I’m so tired of clubs that double as other venues.  RumFire, the W, Chai’s Island Bistro, E&O Trading Company, Doraku, Skyline, and Senor Frog’s are all restaurants by day and they double as a club or lounge at night. For those of us who like nightlife and dancing, we are being cheated by this Hawaii trend.  Restaurants are made for dining.  They can move the tables out of the way after hours but they still don’t have the seating of a proper lounge, or the dance floor and lighting of a true nightclub. 

So, I was counting the days till the Level 4 Nightclub & Ultra Lounge opened.  It’s what the Waikiki Nei multi-million dollar theater turns into after the show is over.  At night, the seating supposedly retracts and creates a 4,500-square-foot dance floor, complete with dancers and aerialists swinging above your head.  And, to hear that Level 4 was being put on the same level as a Las Vegas nightclub sounded like a dream come true, but dream on…

The Level 4 Ultra Lounge felt more like an industrial waiting room.  You have to wait in the lounge while the theater “transforms” into a nightclub, all while looking up at the lounge’s exposed piping in the ceiling and hard concrete floors below.  At least put carpet in the lounge area!  The three decorative bars around the room and the VIP sections against the walls seemed out of place in style next to the lounge’s boring walls and windows.  Many Vegas lounges are themed, and decorate using fabrics, fancy lighting and statues, which make you feel like you’re in a different world, time—or, dimension.  Take any Vegas nightclub—Tao, Pure, Body English, Ghost Bar, LAX—and you’ll experience a night that uses all of your senses.  This just made me wonder why I wasn’t on level 3 of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center getting a cheap drink at Senor Frog’s, while I was waiting for the main showroom to open.  At least I’d know that I’d be entertained there.

You’ll see DJ Mike D. from 104.3 most nights at Level 4.

When the waiting is over, Level 4 does get better. The showroom is immense with a 60-foot ceiling filled with dozens of lights beaming down and around the room through a foggy haze. Go-go dancers command the stage, dancing to hip-hop and the latest music hosted by 104.3’s DJ Mike D.  The dancers even do choreographed dance routines, which makes everyone else stop dancing to watch. It was disappointing to see that there was still stadium seating in the room and the dance floor felt more like I was stuck in an orchestra pit, with the wall to the stadium seating at my left and the four-foot high stage on my right.  The main floor also hosts more VIP tables and the DJ booth, taking away prime dancing space. 

Level 4 dancers on-stage.

The stage itself is off-limits to everyone, except the professional dancers.  But, that’s a lot of wasted space for just six dancers, so why not use it?  Put the DJ booth on stage—where the DJ belongs—and strategically place the VIP tables around the room, even on that large stage, rather than crowding the floor.


The venue was obviously created primarily for Waikiki Nei and then, as a distant second, for the nightclub.  So, go ahead and add Level 4 to that growing list of clubs that lead double lives.

I did find one thing that reminded me of Vegas.  All seating is reserved for VIP only, so choose your shoes wisely.

Want to check out Level 4 Nightclub & Ultra Lounge?  Here are the details:

HOURS:  Wednesday-Saturday following the last performance of Waikiki Nei.  The show ends at 7:30pm on Wed-Thurs, and at 10:00 p.m. on Fri-Sat, then it takes roughly 45 minutes for the theatre to transform.  My suggestion is to go on a Friday or Saturday at around midnight, then you’ll more than likely miss the line, and not have to wait for the showroom to open.
COVER:  $15
DRESS:  Fashionable attire only.

LEVEL 4 Nightclub & Ultra Lounge
at the Royal Hawaiian Center, 4th floor, Building B
2233 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815

 Have you been to Level 4?  Comment and tell me your thoughts below.