Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween in the Pacific

Halloween is a big deal in Hawaii.  They say the freaks come out at night – and no more so than on October 30-31 (see right).  When I first moved to Honolulu, in August, people were already talking about it.  What costumes they were planning to wear, how creative they were going to be, how important it was for me to be creative, how much alcohol they planned to consume, and which bars they planned to shut down.  As it got closer, the Halloween talk intensified.  No one could seem to decide whether they were going to go to Waikiki or Chinatown.  Waikiki was the place to show off costumes, roam the streets, and just “cruise.”  Chinatown, on the other hand, was the location of Three Nights Of Pleasure In Paradise.

Hallowballoo involves shutting down the streets of Chinatown.  Beer and wine stands line every sidewalk.  Bars and clubs open their doors until 4am.  Over 26 Bands and Musicians play over 3 days.  There are homemade costumes, store-bought costumes, and “what the hell is that” costumes.  Everyone uses the opportunity to dress in ways they would never dress in front of their grandmother.  People stop each other on the street and ask to take pictures with you because they like your costume.  It happened to me a few times and I wasn’t even that creatively (or provocatively) dressed.   Old people get into the act as well.  I saw at least a half dozen 70+-year-olds in full costume…capes, masks, cat ears, devil horns, magic wands, etc.

I have a theory as to why Halloween is a big deal here.  Another nice thing about keeping a blog is the opportunity for me to engage in one-sided pontificating without the fear of having my half-reasoned logic exposed for what it is.  Anyway, it seems that a lot of people who live in Hawaii are running away from something on the mainland.  Allow me to explain.  If you take a random sample of people who moved to Hawaii (i.e. not Native Hawaiians), you will get one of three responses: (1) why not?; (2) I was just looking for adventure and I figured Hawaii was as good a place as any; (3) I just sort of bought a ticket and ended up here.  It is a rare person who actually arrived here with any semblance of a plan.  Now, you may be thinking that these are just free-spirited people (read: hippies) who aren’t necessarily running away from something.  Continue talking to them, then.  If you continue to engage the person, you will discover that 8 out of 10 times the move to Hawaii followed a divorce or break-up, recent graduation from college with no life plan, a fight with mom and dad who said they were no longer willing to pay the bills, a fight with roommates, or the loss of some really revered pet.  Okay, I made the pet part up, but you get the point.  Oftentimes, people move here because they have no plan and nothing back home.

I classify these people into a category of those with “broken personalities.”  For example, everyone here is covered in tattoos.  I’m not talking about one or two tasteful tattoos in fairly discreet locations.  I’m talking about full-on, full sleeve tattoos that cover significant portions of visible skin.  In general, a tattoo is a way of turning your body into an advertising placard that uncovers the person’s inner personality.  

Consider this: Psychiatrists from the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry studied 36 male inpatients, and found a link between tattoos and antisocial personality disorder. "Our findings suggest that patients with tattoos are significantly more likely to suffer from antisocial personality disorder than those without tattoos, and patients with antisocial personality disorder were also significantly more likely to have higher numbers of tattoos, a larger percentage of their body covered with tattoos, and tended to have tattoos in more visible locations" said lead researcher Dr. William Cardasis of the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry.

Now that I have established the premise, here is my rant on Dressing Up for Halloween: 

Halloween is when people take the opportunity to pretend they’re someone else for one night.  You can hide your face behind a mask and/or make-up.  You can dye your hair.  You can reveal far more skin than is socially acceptable on the 364 other days of the year (both men and women).  You can parade around in a ridiculous costume and ask everyone to admire your “other self.”  You can comfortably draw attention to yourself and ask everyone to admire you in all your hidden/broken glory.  It allows people the opportunity to masquerade and hide from their otherwise boring and uninteresting life. 

That was Saturday.  Sunday was actually Halloween.  Waikiki was just as out of control Sunday as Chinatown was on Saturday.  I went to Yardhouse for some pre-dinner beers (see Beer Reviews for some descriptions).  One cool thing was the number of kids trick-or-treating at all the Waikiki shops.  Each store had hand-written signs on the storefront window that said, “trick-or-treater welcome.”  Kids were run into the stores, say trick-or-treat, and be rewarded with handfuls of deliciousness.  There were several bands playing outside of Yardhouse and the streets were absolutely packed with hordes of costumes.  It was pretty tame and pretty entertaining, and this was all before 9pm. 

So if you love Halloween and are planning a trip to Hawaii, it’s definitely worth your time to coordinate the two.

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