Thursday, November 6, 2014


At 5:45am my alarm went off and I thought I was going to throw my phone out the window.  My usual alarm singing, "Good morning!" to me made it a very terrible morning.  I literally rolled out of bed and made myself walk to the bathroom to brush my teeth, because no one likes morning breath.  Then I put on some decent clothing, which included a baggy white t-shirt, black sweats, a gray oversized hoodie, mismatched socks, and Nike Frees 4.0.  I dragged my cousin, who was my roommate, out the door of our apartment and we made the long journey to the BYU Wilkinson Center.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize that it was snowing.  We trudged through the snow now 5:55am on our way to luau practice.  The only good thing about this whole situation was that we lived across the street in the dorms so it was a fairly close walk to the Wilkinson Center.  The tricky part about this situation was the lights changing in our favor.  But at 5:55 in the morning on a Saturday we didn't really worry about cars driving by so we made our way across the cross walk while we had a Do Not Walk symbol.  We walked a little further down the sidewalk until we got to the doors of the Wilkinson Center.

That was always a glorious moment, stepping through the doors.  Warmth hit our bodies like a gust of wind.  Our cheeks started to get pink and rosy because warmth was returning to them.  Our fingers didn't hurt to move anymore because circulation was getting back into them.  We walked up one flight of stairs and down two hallways until we got to our practice room, third door on the right side. Now the fun part was about to begin.  Hawaii section luau practice.

By 6:10am we started warming up.  There were usually about 25 people there and little by little more people would start to trickle in.  To start our warm up, our instructor would put on traditional Hawaiian music, which was usually a man chanting during major beats of an ipu (which is a Hawaiian gourd dried out to become an instrument) and the dancing would begin.  I can always remember being confident at the beginning that I was doing pretty well, but 10 minutes into practice, I could feel the burning sensation starting in my legs.  It would usually start in my calves and lead up into my quadriceps and hamstrings.  It was never the good burning sensation, but I knew I was doing something right if my muscles were getting a good work out already.

By 6:30am we would break up into our smaller groups and start practicing our specific dances.  We went over the specific chants we had to repeat at the right time.  As we learned the different chants, our instructor would explain to us what each line we were saying meant.  Each time he would explain a line to us, an appreciation for my culture and heritage would spark inside of me. 

All those Sunday dinners at my grandparents house would flash through my mind as these words sounded so familiar.  I could remember the smell of my grandma’s cooking as we sat around the table with my older cousins waiting for her to finish cooking.  My grandpa’s Hawaiian records and CDs all stacked so neatly against the wall, like he had them in some particular order.  My grandpa sitting at the kitchen table taste testing the food before my grandma served it to everyone.  Everyone fighting over saying the prayer to bless the food because whoever blessed the food would get to go first, and who wasn’t hungry at this point.  All of these memories would flood my mind every Saturday as we would learn new chants and hula steps to make the perfect performance.

Two hours later, at 8am, practice would finally come to an end.  After two hours of dirty bare feet, sweaty faces, and aching knees, we would get to walk back home just in time to go back to bed.  This ritual continued on for the next three months every Saturday from 6-8am.  If we were really lucky, we would get to practice for an extra two hours after our allotted time and get home at 10am.  During the extra two hour practice, it was more relaxed and we were able to get to know each other better as we sat on the hard carpet floor sewing our skirts, making our head dresses, or practicing certain parts of the dances.

As the Saturdays came and gone, I realized something was changing.  I felt more connected with my ancestors, my heritage.  I was beginning to truly appreciate where I had come from, which made me think of countless stories that I had been told as I was growing up.  Learning about a group of people who forgot where they came from, but from a certain event changed their perspective and helped them to remember what was really important in their lives.  This was one of those events that helped me remember and appreciate everything my ancestors had done for me.  Bringing back to my remembrance the important things and helping me get back on the strait and narrow path.


  1. I've never had any interest in Luau, but hearing your vivid description really drew me in. I thought that the details about the dirty feet and the pain of your muscles were very clear. What a cool way to connect with your heritage.

  2. Its so beautiful that something like a grueling, miserable, way too early in the morning experience led you to have such a deeper rooted connection with your grandfather. Sometimes we have to have those experiences to appreciate the relationships we have. I think this could be in its own way of Elijah's prophecy, "the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers."

  3. I really like the themes of heritage and ancestors and a Luau is a great setting for that kind of discovery! I would love to see some more imagery of the dance movement, it might give more of a feel for what you were experiencing here