I know, like all of you, that this has been a challenging six months and I’m not going to go into the politics of it all although I have extremely valid opinions. I’ve come to realize that we are now facing a “new normal” and, as difficult as that may seem, it might be with us for some time in the future.
I’ve missed so many things in my previous life. I miss dancing for all the tourists at the pier when they disembark to enjoy all the wonderful things about Hilo town and the surrounding areas. I like to think that dancing hula for them will give them just a little taste of what our culture is about and what sets us apart from other destination locales. Even though hula is now all over the world and in every state of the union, it has a different feeling when dancing here where it all started. As you all know I sew for hula hālau and I have sent hula apparel to just about every state. I love sharing this tiny bit of Hawaiʻi with America.
I miss dancing at the bandstand in downtown where tourists can actually get up and learn a few moves and hand motions, where they can learn to make a lei or kupeʻe (bracelet) made of ti leaves and flowers. Dancing to live music with renown musicians and having a radio personality MC for us. Itʻs so very special.
I miss going to the different care homes and sharing our aloha with the guests. Sometimes we have serious hula and oli (chant), with a live duo playing the ʻukulele and a bucket bass that I just love. After a couple of years, these people have become like our family and not being able to see them now breaks my heart. Sometimes, we have hula that is just fun. We play ʻukulele or we dance with implements. The guests seem to really love these impromptu fun sessions. I wish I knew how everyone was doing. I did send a card to tell them how much we miss them.
We danced at the Veterans Center and now I fear that many of the patients there have passed away as it has become a hot spot for Hilo with most of the deaths coming from this center. The staff is overwhelmed and though we were able to send cards and bake goods, I fear the morale is still low.
Right now our saving grace has been the ability to dance in downtown Hilo for the revitalization of the town. Many people don’t realize that downtown is open. So, we dance on the sidewalk in front of different stores for the drive-by cars with families. We have a marvelous story teller that recalls ancient legends and various musicians who take the time to come down to play for passersbys, some of which take the time to sit and listen or watch if one of us gets up to do a solo hula. Because of the health protocols set by our local government we dance six feet apart and wear a mask. We have been “smizing” a new word meaning smiling with the eyes. Expression is such a large part of hula and some of that is taken away with the mask, but I wear one for myself, my friends and my community.
Things are starting to open up a bit more, with restrictions. I was able to go line dance once weekly until the recent outbreak. My official hula class will start up again on Oct. 5th. We will have to wear a mask, sanitize and distance, but it will be so good to be back to a new normal again.