The Wave at 25
Waikiki's on-the-edge club celebrates its racy, colorful past. Honolulu Advertiser archive photo.

Waikiki’s on-the-edge club celebrates its racy, colorful past. Honolulu Advertiser archive photo.

Psst … got a good Wave Waikiki story to tell?

Go ahead, ask a friend or some random stranger on the street. Sure, you can ask the slightly off-kilter people, too. We’ll bet that even folks who have never put foot one past Tuli the doorman have a juicy Wave story to tell.

That’s why on the occasion of Wave Waikiki’s 25th birthday, we’ve asked a few of the folks closest to the venerable nightclub on the edge of you-know-where to share their stories of a club’s life lived.

So welcome to the party. Some introductions may be in order first.

THE FOLKS WHO LIVED IT

  • Jack Law (owner)
  • Robert “Flash” Hansen (promotions manager, 1998-present)
  • Sonya Mendez (lead vocalist of Sonya and Revolucion, 1981-86)
  • Frank Orrall (drummer, The Squids, 1980-81, Hat Makes The Man, 1983-87; vocalist/guitarist, Poi Dog Pondering, 1987-present)
  • Peter Bond (guitarist/vocalist, Hat Makes The Man, 1983-89, Oriental Love Ring, 1990-93, Spiny Norman, 1993-2001)
  • Daniel J (resident DJ, 1985-92)
  • KSM (resident DJ, 1990-present)
  • Ivan John (bartender, 1980-present)
Wave doorman Eric Suhren in 1986. Honolulu Advertiser archive photo.

Wave doorman Eric Suhren in 1986. Honolulu Advertiser archive photo.

BEGINNINGS

Wave Waikiki opened in November 1980, six years after owner Jack Law launched Hula’s Bar & Lei Stand, which was then on the corner of Kuhio Avenue and ‘Olohana Street.

Law: “The property the Wave took over was bunch of different places before we came through — The Dragon Lady, The Royal Lei, Fast Eddie’s and Lava Lava. … I saw it listed for months before finally saying to my business partner Bob Magoon that if we didn’t buy it, someone would and compete against Hula’s.

“At that time, it really wasn’t anything to look at. It was really, really funky. And we had no money to put into it. Luckily, though, punk rock was just happening. And CBGB’s was the hot punk club in New York. So really, the more run down the place was at that time, the better.”

Mendez: “The Wave was very very punk for Hawai’i. They had a real punk crowd.”

Bond: “I was there on the first night it opened. … The thing that was really cool about the Wave was that at 2 a.m. Hula’s closed, and all of the Hula’s patrons would flood over to the Wave and dance. At that time homophobia was a lot stronger. People who couldn’t deal with the really expressive gay people would freak out and leave and all of a sudden it would become this really cool club … because all of the guys who were trying to mack on girls split.”

Law: “The after-2 a.m. gay crowd and before-2 a.m. punk crowd mixed very well. … They were both very devil may care. It was before AIDS. So people were experimenting sexually. You never knew who was going home with who at the end of the night. … (AIDS) really put a damper on that sort of thing.

“And the gay people — no matter what I would do — began to feel like they weren’t welcome there anymore just because of the attitude they were given by the customers. So the gay crowd (eventually) went to another 4 a.m. club that opened up in Waikiki called Marisa’s. … But the Wave already had enough momentum that the straight crowd continued to go to there. And every year, it would just get more and more popular. Seven days a week.”

John: “It was the place to be in Waikiki. You had Masquerade on one end. You had Cilly’s on the other end. On one side of us was Pink Cadillac. On the other side of us was the Marrakech. The area was like a hot spot. You could go bar-hopping within the block (with) a lot of options to choose from.”

THE SQUIDS

Local punk rockers The Squids became Wave Waikiki’s first house band in 1981. The band had a steady gig at a rival punk club when Law invited it to check out the Wave.

Orrall: “We were playing at a club called 3D, a punk rock, BYOB, really rough-and-tumble place. There wasn’t much to the club except the sound system. Jack came in one night ’round 1 in the morning and … invited us to come over when we were done.

“We walked into the Wave with him at around 2 a.m. Hula’s had already closed, the Wave was in full swing and it was (expletive) awe inspiring! It was shirtless men on top of speakers. Lights going everywhere. The smell of human nitrate in the air. I just thought … (expletive) amazing! I’d never seen anything like that in my life.

“In the early days with The Squids, the Wave really wasn’t very crowded before 2 a.m. for a long time. It took a while for it to catch on because the real punk rockers didn’t want to go (there). They thought it was a sellout move to go to the Wave. Everyone was still into 3D.

“The band worked really hard for a year. (Eventually) we just broke up. … At a certain point, I think everyone was just done and ready to move on to something else. It was nothing bad. It was more like, ‘OK, we did what we were interested in doing.’ ” (Laughs.)

SONYA AND REVOLUCION

After The Squids broke up, vocalist Sonya Mendez and her band Revolucion held down a Wave Waikiki gig up to six nights a week from late 1981 to summer 1986.

Law: “We had The Squids playing five nights a week … sometimes six nights a week. I was really a slave driver. And then The Squids broke up, and I was looking for a band. Sonya had called me and told me she was putting together a band. … I only knew her as a ‘Lovely Hula Hands’-type of lounge singer, and couldn’t even imagine her being a rock ‘n’ roll singer.”

Mendez: “I had just come off of doing daytime shows at The Garden Bar at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. (Jack) kind of didn’t want to audition me. But I was very persistent. … (For the first gig) we made up a flier and sent it to everybody we knew. We called ourselves Sonya and The Slugs because we didn’t know what to call ourselves.

“A lot of people came to see us purely out of curiosity. The Wave was actually packed. … We played everything from AC/DC to the Police to Lene Lovich. … And after the night was over, (Jack) says, ‘Uh, you want to play next Sunday?’ This kept going on through four or five Sundays. We started our full-time gig, working six nights a week, on Dec. 7, 1981.

“When we started playing the Wave, the club became a bit more mainstream. I think we really opened it up to the girl next door, so to speak.”

Law: “The band that put us on the map without a doubt was Sonya and Revolucion. They were consistently good. People came and saw them time and time and time again. … It’s a funny thing, because you can’t do that now. You can’t even have a band play two nights in a row, practically.”

HAT MAKES THE MAN

New Wave rockers Hat Makes the Man was Wave Waikiki’s third great resident band of the 1980s, packing the club on Sonya and Revolucion’s nights off from 1983 to 1987. Drummer Frank Orrall left the band permanently in 1987 to move to the Mainland. There, he eventually founded worldbeat collective Poi Dog Pondering, which was briefly signed to Columbia Records. Bond moved on to front latter-day Wave house bands Oriental Love Ring and Spiny Norman.

Bond: “We were playing (at 3D) all the time, with the Wave always kind of keeping us at arm’s distance. But Frank had played in The Squids before. So then the Wave reluctantly started letting us have Monday nights.”

Orrall: “We’d do two nights a week at first.”

Bond: “I think we hold the record for band fired most times from the Wave. … We’d do really well. And then there’d be a couple of weeks where there were six people in there and they would fire us. … We’d play for a few weeks and somebody (in the band) would do something and then they’d fire us. They kept firing us and then bringing us back.

“Sonya was the band that everybody dug because she was really polished. We were more on the cusp. We weren’t doing Pat Benatar. We were doing Wire Train or the Smiths or Orange Juice or one of our own songs. It was a lot more quirky. As time went on, people began to like the quirkiness. … We were doing it five nights a week at one point.”

Orrall: “We got (expletive) tight as hell playing five nights a week. I was very confident as a drummer by the end of that.”

Bond: “(But) for the kind of band we were trying to be, it was too much. Hawai’i’s so small. You can only play so long for the same people and remain fresh. … Frank was one of the real creative people in the band. When he decided to move to the Mainland, we kind of soldiered on with a couple of other guys for a few more summers and eventually morphed into Oriental Love Ring.”

BEING A HOT BAND AT THE WAVE IN THE ’80S

Winning a regular gig at Wave Waikiki in the 1980s was a goal for many hungry local rock bands.

Bond: “Well, they paid. That was one good thing. The Wave was probably one of the better-paying clubs. They paid us very fair. … The Wave was the best club in Hawai’i to be seen at. It had the best lights (and) the best sound. We had our own dressing room upstairs. So we would just go upstairs and play rock star to some degree, lounge around and have friends come up. Then we’d go downstairs and play and dance for three 45-minute sets a night.”

Orrall: “For the first time in my life, I was actually solvent. (Laughs.) I was living in an abandoned house back in Palolo (Valley), so I only had to pay $50 in rent. I think I was making $250 or $500 a week. That felt good.”

Bond: “Management was always cool to us. Even when they were giving us crap for something we’d done. From Jack Law, who gave us a thousand chances, to the person at the door, every single person was just a fantastic person.”

Orrall: “I definitely met some nice women. (Laughs.) A lot of different bands would come through. People would sit in with us, and so (I) ended up playing with a lot of bands because I was known as a good drummer. I got some nice jobs playing with different bands around town.”

Mendez: “One day, Jack said he was going to make me a dressing room. … He renovated one of the storerooms upstairs. It was as large as a nice-sized living room. He had carpet put in, and couches and a mirror with lights around it.”

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

KSM: “I was coming to the Wave straight out of (graduating) high school in the early ’80s. I remember seeing New Order play there. … From that gig on was when I started going to the Wave more religiously. … There were five clubs all within a block radius. It was sweet.

“Before I started coming (regularly), I always had sort of a love-hate relationship with the Wave. I got into a huge fight with someone who pulled a switchblade on me in the mid-’80s. I hit a bottle over the guy’s head. It didn’t crack. (But) because of that, I was actually banished from the Wave for a year. They took my picture and everything.”

Daniel J: “I was on vacation for my 21st birthday the first time I went to the Wave in June of 1985. I met Sonya Mendez from Sonya and Revolucion at the Pink Cadillac. I had just gone into the Wave and was, like, ‘Oh, my God! This is the place for me. I gotta get a job here.’

“The DJ who was working there at the time was quite conservative. In San Francisco, where I was from, there was a huge alternative scene and I wasn’t really a part of it. So I figured I could just come back here and blow it up. I didn’t know who Sonya was. She was just hanging, sitting in a corner, and I was hitting on her, actually. She was like this goddess of rock ‘n’ roll at the Wave at that time … and she said, ‘Well, I happen to know the owner.’

“On my vacation, I got an audition and a job at the Wave. I flew back to San Francisco, grabbed my records and my stuff and moved back to Hawai’i … in a week.”

Hansen: “For me at 17 or 18, the Wave was the club you couldn’t wait to get into when you weren’t 21. … The door was really strict. I was sneaking into other clubs. But I couldn’t sneak into the Wave. … It seemed cool. It seemed hip. My friends and I were dying to get in.

“When we did get in, it wasn’t like any other club. It was crazy and wild. Even then, they had their (expletive) together with promotions and stuff compared to what other clubs were doing. The music was different from the other clubs. The sound, the lights and the visuals were better than the other clubs. Sensory overload would be the best way to describe it.”

KEEPING THINGS SAFE AND MELLOW

Law: “One of the things that I realized from the very beginning was that as much fun as everything was, there was also a violent streak in Waikiki. There were toughs that would go around. And their idea of a fun night out would be to go out and start a fight.

“I figured out really quick that if the Wave was going to survive, those people had to know that they couldn’t screw around at the Wave. The first thing that I did was make sure that I had the biggest, meanest-looking doormen that I could possibly get. … I always call my doormen my atomic weapons. You want everybody to know you’ve got ’em, but you never want to use ’em.

“Another thing is when there have been problems, I made sure that I prosecuted. I made sure people knew that if they caused any problems, they weren’t welcome at the Wave ever again. Things like that really made a difference. … Every time I have an employee meeting, I beat it into their heads (that) the purpose of the Wave is to create a safe place for customers to have a good time. Our customers can do anything they want at the Wave, providing it’s not illegal and they’re not getting in the way of somebody else’s good time.”

Hansen: “Everyone feels safe at the Wave. They feel like they can be themselves. If they want to get weird, if guys want to get crazy and wear some eyeliner and some (expletive) up outfit, they’re totally cool. A guy can come in wearing a suit and feel comfortable standing next to a guy in slippers and a tank top.

“We can foster that. But it’s really the people that come in that make that happen. I think that’s been a big key to the Wave’s success.”

Law: “We’ve never had a dress code. People know that no matter how they’re dressed, they can come to the Wave. Those bogus dress codes (at other clubs) that call for no hats and all of that … it’s a way to discriminate against somebody.”

WAVE DOES CONCERTS

Before larger clubs like Pink’s Garage, World Cafe and Pipeline Cafe came along in the 1990s, Wave Waikiki brought in dozens of notable acts that, while popular, were too niche to fill Blaisdell Arena or the Waikiki Shell.

Law: “Stevie Nicks came with Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo. And Wave Waikiki was her first performance after getting out of the Betty Ford Clinic. It was a surprise performance, and everybody just went crazy when Stevie Nicks got on stage.”

Daniel J: “That was pretty amazing because Mick Fleetwood was just out of control. He had a roadie who would pop a Corona and pour it into (Fleetwood’s) mouth while he was drumming. Then he’d take the cap from the beer and fill it with cocaine, and while he was still drumming (Mick) would take the cap of cocaine. I ended up getting his drumsticks. … Stevie Nicks had just gotten out of rehab and she didn’t look too good either. It was a pretty wild night.”

Law: “Grace Jones was a wild woman. How should I say it? A druggie and a drunk. She was on stage performing. And she’d drink this wine, then she would just lean over, let the wine go from her mouth, and these guys (stagefront) with their mouths open (would) catch the wine. (Laughs.) Things that you wouldn’t even think of doing now because of diseases.”

Bond: “I saw the Boomtown Rats there. And that was before there was a stage so they were, like, an inch off the floor and you were right there. It was before people were moshing. We were just, like, ‘Oh, my God!’ … (Hat Makes The Man) opened for Romeo Void (who) were killer! We cracked up when A Flock Of Seagulls played ‘I Ran’ three times because they just didn’t have any other songs.”

Daniel J: “New Order played the week that I started there. That was pretty amazing. They stuck to themselves.”

CELEBRITY ENCOUNTERS

Hansen: “Whenever there’s any movies or anything filming in town, (celebrities) seem to end up at the Wave. Especially after 2 a.m. And it’s funny, because you see these big celebrities and they’re all hammered, belligerent and hitting on (people).”

Daniel J: “I met so many stars at the Wave. Elton John had just done a concert at the Blaisdell and was just hanging out. He was really cool … a really nice guy. He ended up coming into my DJ booth. We talked. It was totally surreal.”

Hansen: “Cuba Gooding Jr. was here filming ‘Pearl Harbor.’ And he rolled up in a limo … for I-don’t-know-what event, but it was a big party and the club was at capacity. He had a limo filled with 10 people. Anyway, we literally could not let him in. And he was livid.”

Mendez: “When the Police did a concert at Aloha Stadium, the promoter brought them by the night before their show to see our show. … Sting came right up to the stage and watched us. Then all three of them went up to the lounge upstairs and invited me to have a cocktail with them. I had a beer with them, and they were pretty nice. … After their Saturday-night show, they had a private party in the upstairs lounge. I was just sitting in my dressing room with one of my musicians. And all of a sudden, the door opens and Sting comes walking in and says, ‘Excuse me, may I use your loo?’ And we were, like, ‘OK. Can you not flush the toilet? We want to savor you.’ ”

Hansen: “When Bruce Willis was here filming ‘Tears of the Sun,’ he came in with a huge group of 30, 40 or 50 people. They were ordering all these drinks upstairs. And when it came time to pay the bill, they were, like, ‘Well, it’s, like, Bruce Willis. Don’t we get it all for free?’ And we were, like, ‘What? Are you high?’ That ended with some drama.”

Daniel J: “I met Grace Slick. She was really nice.”

John: “Julian Lennon. Rod Stewart. Ron Jeremy. Rob Lowe. Ben Affleck, when he was doing ‘Pearl Harbor.’ I served Martha Raye. She was there late, in the early ’80s, with her bodyguard. I got an autograph from her.”

Hansen: “Lars (Ulrich) from Metallica actually came in for the band’s concert post-party. And he just sat at the bar upstairs and shot the (expletive) with everybody. Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine came to the post-party after their concert and we just talked about all kinds of stuff for a couple of hours. He was totally cool and laid back.”

IT-COULD-ONLY-HAPPEN-AT-WAVE-WAIKIKI STORIES

Hansen: “I’ve seen more people having sex at the Wave than any other club I’ve ever been to in my entire life. That’s for sure. I’ve seen it in the bathrooms. I’ve seen it at the bar. I’ve seen it in the corners. In the parking lot next door. In the employee alley. Sex everywhere.

Mendez: “We had women flashing the band.”

Hansen: “People get naked constantly. The funny thing is you’ll see these people out at maybe the W earlier in the night and everyone’s kind of got it together. They’re all prim and proper, and even snooty. And then they get to the Wave and it’s like their total persona changes and it’s, like, a ‘We’re at the Wave, so now we can get away with it’ type of thing.”

Daniel J: “I had a little hole (where) I could peek into the women’s bathroom out of the DJ booth. That was kind of fun. You couldn’t see into the stalls, so there wasn’t anything perverted. But you could hear the girls talking and looking in the mirror. That hole was patched up after I left.”

Hansen: “We did this contest one time. I don’t know what it was for. But these three guys ended up totally stripping down naked, and they each had a sock over their (expletive). … We dared them to go to 7-Eleven and get a Slurpee and come back. All three of them did!”

Bond: “I saw somebody fall from the second-story dressing room (area) down into the parking lot, just blind drunk. He wasn’t hurt. He had been trying to crawl around the (upstairs) gate.”

John: “There was a streaker in there in 1988 or 1989. This guy ran in naked from the front door, ran upstairs and out the back door. That was pretty strange.”

KSM: “There’s the obligatory sex-in-the-DJ-booth stories.”

STRANGE PATRONS AND ‘THE CORNER PEOPLE’

KSM: “There used to be this older woman named Janet who used to come in every day. I would say she was in her late 50s or early 60s. She had long, stringy hair (that was) graying. She would come to the club at 9 every night and she would leave at 4 a.m. She would write notes on paper all night. I would glance at what she was doing on some nights. Sometimes she was doing trigonometry, and sometimes she was writing stuff like, ‘I can’t believe he asked me to dance.’ ”

Bond: “There were a couple of regular crazy people that would come. There was a girl that we called the Quaalude Queen. Her eyes were always half closed, and she’d dance when no one else was dancing. She’d do that in front of me and constantly look up. That was really uncomfortable.

“There was another guy who would come in with a radio he’d always be talking into. And he would change outfits four times a night. Sometimes he’d come back in drag. He’d leave and come back dressed normally. He’d leave and come back dressed some other crazy way. And he was always talking into his radio.”

Daniel J: “He would come in throughout the night and literally change clothes six or seven times. All of them were different characters. We knew each character. It was an illness.”

Bond: “The Corner People were the goth kids. They hung out near the women’s restroom, and all dressed in black. The Addams Family were the group of goth kids who were goth 24/7. They got called that by a DJ at a KROQ-FM party that we were playing. They were kind of offended at the time, but then they kind of decided to take it as a moniker.”

Orrall: “Those were people that would come out all the time to see the band.”

THE RISE OF THE DJ

Wave Waikiki made its name in the ’80s with popular local bands like The Squids, Sonya and Revolucion, Hat Makes the Man and others that could play four to six consecutive nights a week and still draw a full house. In the ’90s, live bands remained a Wave Waikiki staple. But as was the case at other nightclubs around town, turntablists emerged as just as large a draw at the Wave. The club adapted to changes, but kept things on the underground tip.

Law: “Hawai’i’s economy went in the toilet for about 11 years after the first Gulf War. It was a struggle for everybody to stay open. Not just nightclubs, but anybody that was in business in Waikiki.

“There were a lot of businesses that went under. We held on just by our fingertips, surviving day-by-day. It was really scary (worrying) about meeting payroll and paying the bills. … The economy going south, bigger venues opening up and people’s tastes changing in live music meant we could no longer bring in (Mainland) bands.”

Daniel J: “The Wave always did live music until 1:30 a.m., and then (DJed) dance music until closing. For a while live music was a very large draw in the early evening. Then, all of a sudden, it kind of slipped. The Wave became a madhouse after 1:30 a.m. and was really all about the dance music.

“Back then there really wasn’t any other place to hear imported underground dance music. It wasn’t really (called) house yet. It was still on the edge of the alternative era. … So we began taking (live band) off nights like Mondays, and doing a party called The Love Club. That’s when house music started (getting played here) in 1987 and 1988.

“And I was throwing these underground parties at the Wave. It started off super slow and very small … with a lot of service industry (employees) who were just sick of all the other music that they heard five days a week at all of the other clubs. It was an alternative to all of the Top 40. It slowly grew and grew and grew until it became a music industry mainstay.”

Orrall: “In the early ’90s, I was really into dance music. So when I came home, I’d hang out with Daniel J and get turned on to all the new records that were coming through.

“The DJ booth has been a huge part of the Wave for me from the punk rock days through the house years. Back in the punk rock years, a DJ would play something and you’d go, ‘What the (expletive) is this?’ During the Hat days, hearing The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ at full volume on a full sound system was awesome! (Laughs.) Later on, (it was) hearing Frankie Knuckles’ ‘The Whistle Song’ — a nice, beautiful house song — over the sound system. … I always liked it in the DJ booth.”

Daniel J: “But what was really cool about the Wave and always made it special as far as the dance music went is that we played everything. We played underground alternative music. I mixed it up. I played hip-hop. It was just this variety of really good music that made it really work.”

KSM: “The Wave really is, I think, the only place where the three resident DJs — me, Byron the Fur and Racer X — can have carte blanche as far as what we want to play … the only place where we can explore what we want to play personally. The three of us are kind of music snobs. (Laughs.) We definitely know that we couldn’t get away with certain things over at other clubs. The audience here is also more up for hearing new things. I definitely think that if I tried to drop some of the stuff that I personally love to play at the Wave over at Skyline, I would have a big problem.” (Laughs.)

Bond: “For the first 15 years, (the Wave) really endured because it was willing to be different from all of the other clubs. While all of the other clubs were playing some kind of a disco thing, the Wave was New Wave and was alternative. … They’re still really the only strictly alternative club on the island where you’ll hear things that you’ll never hear at another club on a consistent basis.”

JACK’S LAW

Hansen: “Jack comes across as a very intimidating guy. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. … (But) he really does have his (expletive) together. … One thing I got from Jack immediately is that he treats (the Wave) like any other business. He’s selling widgets.

“That’s something that I definitely didn’t get from other club guys that I’ve worked with. … A lot of club owners are just looking to get laid or want to be the cool guy that says they own the place, and have other businesses where they’re really making their money. … (The Wave) is a fun business. But it’s still a business.

“And Jack always has a game plan. He’s always crunching numbers. … He reinvests in the club. He reinvests in his staff. He’s got great benefits for the staff — 401Ks, a great medical plan. He’s always taken care of the staff. His employees are loyal. He finds and keeps the best talent that he can. He has an eye for that talent. He can find a diamond in the rough and help them along.”

Daniel J: “You have to hand it to Jack. He was just instrumental about being on the cutting edge of whatever was hot at that moment. When video was hot, he got into video before anyone else did. He had us edit visuals and make music videos. He really pushed his creative staff to make things different. … He had a full art staff … at least a couple of artists working full time for him, all the time.

“He would hire and spend the money to make sure his club was creative. He put his money where his mouth was. He still does. … Everyone who works for Jack stays with Jack because he takes care of his people. He’s like my surrogate father. When I did bad, he would scold me and smack my hand. … He’s my Hawaiian father. Straight up.”

Bond: “Jack Law is one of the neater people in the music industry here. He’d been a manager for bands. He knew what everybody was up against. And so he had a sympathetic side when it came to the bands. He wasn’t the typical club owner. Jack was totally willing to give you a break and let you prove yourself. And he let us do it time and time again.” (Laughs.)

Orrall: “I really have a lot of respect for Jack. Whenever I’m in town, I call him up and we get together at least to talk or sometimes have dinner. Jack is just one of those very important people in my life because he gave me my first shot, my second shot and my third shot. … He was a tough businessman, and I always respected that. … He’s tough. But he’s also a rascal.”

RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU’RE STILL A WAVE SLAVE

Law: “I’m not there too often during the week because I have to get up at a halfway decent hour, and the Wave starts later now than it used to. But I’m there many Fridays and Saturdays. I enjoy the Wave. I love the Wave. I love the way it feels. I like the mixture of the customers. I like the nonstuffiness of it.”

Orrall: “(I come home to Honolulu) every year and a half. … I go to the Wave every time. I go and see my bartender Ivan who I love. Every time.”

Bond: “I haven’t been there in at least two or three years. I don’t know anybody there anymore (and) don’t go out to clubs too much anymore. I’m 47 now. I had my time. I did it for 20 years (and) had a blast. I got out alive, without any serious addictions. (Laughs.) It’s time to let the kids have their fun. … I relive it through band reunions these days. I like it like that. I go surfing now.”

KSM: “Initially, the Wave and Hula’s really vibed off each other. During the ’80s, they would send people over to the Wave after Hula’s closed, so there was a sense of a more crazy, more free and certainly more sexually diverse crowd as opposed to now. You had your characters back in the day. You still have some characters at the Wave. But I think it’s a lot more conservative nowadays as opposed to how it was back then.”

Daniel J: “Do I go? Yeah! I throw parties there still. … It’s still my home. It’s the only place I feel comfortable to go dance and hang out. It’s really the only true underground club left in Hawai’i as far as I’m concerned. Everything else is pop. The Wave has never been pop. And they never will be pop.”

ENDURANCE AND THE FUTURE

Law: “One recurring (urban legend) story I’ve heard over the 25 years that the Wave has been open is that it’s going to close. (Laughs hard.)

Hansen: “I began hearing that before I even started working at the Wave.”

Law: “We’ve been on a month-to-month (lease) for about two years now. … There is a developer looking at the property to develop it. But this may go through and it may not go through. … This may be our last anniversary at the Wave or this may not be the last anniversary at the Wave.

“I’ve told my employees that I’m going to ride this horse until the very end. I’ve been nosing around looking for another place. … I’m going to keep the Wave going as long as I can, and when I get notice then I’ll start really looking in earnest. It’s not that I’m not looking. … If I find something that’s really good, I certainly will act on it and maybe even move early before our lease ends. But until that happens, I’ll just let things fall where they may.”

Hansen: “Jack and I have ideas about things that may or may not happen. But ideally, I’d like to see the Wave, in one form or another, continue on. … The Wave is a tired old lady. You can still take her to the salon and (make) her up for a Saturday night out. … But she is a tired old lady. And if we traded her in for a younger version, I don’t think that would necessarily be a bad thing.”

Law: “Anybody that’s lived in Honolulu long enough has a Wave story. … Over the years, many people have come up to me and said, ‘You know, my parents said that I was conceived after a night out at the Wave.’ (Laughs.) I’m kind of proud of that.”

LEGACY

Hansen: “We get a lot of (people saying), ‘I met my wife there’ or ‘I met my husband there’ or ‘Our first date was at the Wave.’ A lot of these seminal moments.”

KSM: “(The Wave) is responsible for me and my girlfriend meeting. We’ve been going out since 1991. She used to work at the store right next to the Wave that used to be On-Stage Hawaii. After she would finish at On-Stage Hawaii, she would go and work as the cashier at the Wave. That’s how we met.”

John: “I was the best man for one couple that met at the Wave. … I was invited to two other weddings where both couples met at the Wave. Their children now come to the Wave and tell me about their mom and dad. It’s a good thing. But it shows you how old I really am. And how old the place is.”

Orrall: “The Wave is super important to me. It was the first club I played. I played there a lot. I cut my teeth at the Wave. I learned about being a performer there. I learned that even if you’re tired, you gotta come through and you gotta play and you’ve gotta give it all you’ve got.”

Law: “What am I proud of? I’m most proud of just being able to bring together all different types of people from all walks of life in Honolulu … and have them, for the most part, just getting along and having a good time.”

Bond: “The Wave was a crazy, crazy place. Everyone was a personality. And a lot of people were out of their minds.”

Published: The Honolulu Advertiser, November 4, 2005

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