Lū’au celebrates Hawaiian culture

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The luau showcased a memorial ceremony for Sarah Wong, who had passed away whilst a part of the club. Ben Hansen | The Falcon

Chloe Guillot

Marking the beginning of Seattle Pacific University’s culture week, students, families and faculty gathered together to celebrate the beauty of the Hawaiian islands by sharing a night filled with dance, laughter and fresh pineapples.

Josh Erme leads a traditional Hawaiian performance. Ben Hansen | The Falcon

The sixth annual Lū’au, presented by the ‘Ohana ‘O Hawai’i Club, took place on May 5. The event, filled with music, dance, and food, celebrated the Hawaiian spirit and took the audience on a “huaka’i ma loko o hawai’i” (journey through Hawai’i).  

The night functioned as a beautiful celebration of culture, and that beauty spilled into the crowd, providing people who have never journeyed to the Aloha state with a new appreciation Hawaii.

“Everything was very new,” freshman Alex Turner said.

“This is the first time that I’ve ever been to a lū’au, and I’ve never been to Hawaii, so it was very interesting to learn about.”

The evening was highlighted by six hulas, each representing a different island. In between performances, the hosts shared a handful of interesting facts, told a few jokes and gave away of prizes.

The night also featured a “cheehoo” competition, where three competitors gave a shout that is commonly used in the Pacific Islands as an expression of joy. The cheehoo could also be heard throughout the night, as the audience reacted to the dances.

A meal consisting of Hawaiian favorites was also served near the beginning of the night, reminding some students, such as freshman Laur Lugos, of the flavors that she has grown to love.

“My favorite part was watching people try the food for the first time and being like, ‘This is really salty,’ but thats why it’s so good,” Lugos said.

With dishes such as kalua pig, chicken long rice and Li-ting Mao pineapples, the food went quickly, and the announcement of seconds prompted a mad dash to get back in line.  

Freshman Marissa Rozario came to the event to support her friend, and enjoyed not only learning about the culture herself, but watching what the event meant to people from Hawai’i.

“It was really nice to see her celebrate her culture,” Rozario said.

“They also had a lot of context about what Hawaii means to people, which was really nice.”

Turner also saw how the event reached people who were from the islands, as a sense of familiarity was present amidst those who were able to see their own culture being represented on the stage.  

“I was amazed how many people could relate to it,” Turner said.

“I was sitting by so many people that were from Hawaii and they all like, ‘Yeah, this is what we do,’ and relating to it.”

Those who went to Luau were able to experience Hawaiian culture: including traditional dances, as well as food. Ben Hansen | The Falcon

In the end, the audience was given an opportunity to engage in the Hawaiian culture, as everyone was invited to stand in a circle around the Royal Brougham gym and take part in a final song entitled Hawai’i Aloha. A steady hum of voices rose above the circle as people held hands and shared in community.

In addition to the artistic expressions of culture, the night also featured a touching tribute to Sarah Wong, who passed away on April 27.

The luau showcased a memorial ceremony for Sarah Wong, who had passed away whilst a part of the club. Ben Hansen | The Falcon

In two of the night’s performances, an empty space was left on stage for Wong, honoring the space in which she was to perform. After the final hula, members of ‘O’hana ‘O Hawai’i and the Pacific Islander Club of Cultural Arts presented Wong’s family with a plaque before joining together for two performances that celebrated Wong’s impact on both clubs.

Tears were shed both onstage and in the crowd, as the tribute left an impact on everybody in the room.

“I think it showed the closeness of the SPU community,” Rozario said.

Reflecting on the beautiful celebration of culture, family and loved ones, Turner summed up the night in one word: “euphoric.”