The Hawai’i Club of Notre Dame presented their annual Lu’au 2010 at the Stepan Center, entitled “Na Mele O Na Moku (The Songs of the Islands).” A popular event of the year, the campus of Notre Dame got a taste of a significant tradition in Hawaiian culture.
While Notre Dame students, faculty, and alumni provided the majority of the audience, local South Bend and Mishawaka residents who once lived in Hawaii or just love the culture attend this event to experience the magic of the Hawaiian islands.
The Hawai’i Club’s Lu’au is more than a performance; the term Lu’au entails dining and merriment. The Stepan Center was transformed into a vibrant gathering filled with traditional Hawaiian flowers of assorted colors and delectable pineapples, an island favorite.
Upon arrival, the Hawai’i club members greeted each attendee with a shell necklace. The guests then selected their beautifully-adorned dining table and awaited the cultural dinner: kalua pig (slowly roasted pork), rice, shoyu chicken (simmering chicken in a blend of soy sauce and brown sugar), lomilomi salmon (‘massaged’ tomatoes, salmon, and onions), chicken long rice (Oriental noodles cooked with ginger root and shredded chicken), haupia (coconut gelatin blended with cane sugar), and white cake. The club members carefully selected the dinner menu to offer the guests the best of Hawai’i fine dining.
Once dinner was underway, the masters of ceremonies or self-named “tour guides” took the stage. Joyful and welcoming, the club members performed dances from each of the eight islands of Hawai’i. The dances included Kaho’olawe’s Kahiko, Kaua’i’s all-male dance, Moloka’i’s all-female dance, Maui’s ‘Ipu dance, the Big Island Uli’uli dance, and O’ahu’s finale dance. After the finale, all the performers sang a Hawai’i Aloha closing song, in remembrance of the place they call home.
From their graceful hand movements to the swaying of their well-threaded skirts, the dancers were flawless. With leis around their neck and smiles intact, the dancers allowed the audience to spend an evening no longer in the cold and dreary weather of Indiana, but rather, in the pacific sunshine of the golden islands.
Each performance, filled with energy and vitality, demonstrated how much work and time the club put into their main production. The club explains on their website that they prepare for this show during winter break as they venture home to Hawaii and bring back items such as Hawaiian attire and souvenirs. Once the spring semester commences, the club begins their dance practices up until the night before show time.
Recalling the Lu’au’s history, the Hawai’i Club co-presidents, Jessica Choi and Sean Wong, explained, “Lu’au began over a decade ago as twelve students gathered with friends to share stories and culture out on the grass of South Quad.” Now, Lu’au “has since grown into one of the most anticipated cultural events every year in the Notre Dame community. The event exhibits the heritage of our island home through food, dance, and culture.”
Adriana Garcia is a sophomore theology/sociology major and enjoyed every minute of the Lu’au, especially Jen Yi’s performance! She can be contacted at email@example.com.