Ha! You’ll only remember this film if you are at least my age. It’s an ordinary sort of evening. A couple in a car lose their way and find themselves in the wrong part of town. Definitely the wrong part. And it all gets worse from there with lots 80’s music. So last night when I started to make my way down N Hotel St in Honolulu wearing a sundress and carrying Minnie – I felt I may have been just an incy bit in jeopardy .
All started well. I was bound for an open mic night which I discovered on Facebook events. I got on the no 4 Bus round the corner form the hostel – it was nearly dark at 7 and a little rainy, but still 30 plus degrees. The bus journey was uneventful and the busy driver very chatty. ‘Are you sure that’s where you want to go?’ He asked reassuringly. I asked if it was not such a nice area, the answer to which was that I should not venture too many blocks from the corner of Bethel. Bear it mind that I had not been in any part of Honolulu which was not near the University or beach and knew nothing of dodgy or no go areas and this was not greatly confidence inspiring – because it did look decidedly creepy and sort of empty when I alighted. To be fair it was Sunday night – not the most bustling of times.
Following the iMaps instructions – I went further down N Hotel, where the sparse trendy looking bars gave way to boarded up Asian shops, heavily graffitied. And as the occupied units became less and less, the lighting did also, and correspondingly the people living in the doorways became more and more, as did the ne’er do wells and skateboard philosophers hanging around. One young man on a board told me to trust my intuition – that I would find what I was looking for – while another one was telling me to get the fuck out of the country .
I’ve never really panicked unless crises involve my kids, so I decided just to turn round and walk back up to Bethel – walking in the manner which my Sifu had taught me, and to not show any hesitation. Remember I was looking for an arts centre – when the area looked more like a detention centre. I should say that I make no judgements at all on people who find themselves in the midst of such misfortune, especially considering my own privileged place in the world, and in fact have never felt threatened by them. But there were other groups there who where doubtless loitering in the district through lack of purpose, aspiration and sheer poverty. It was the rapidity in which the environment went from urban to squalid which made me feel so vulnerable. You want the music school,’ someone said and they gave me directions. There was salsa there and all that stuff he said – well it sounded like it could be the right place. I followed the directions and indeed found the salsa centre which was upstairs above a locked darkened Asian owned building.
At this point I knew it was totally not here. I remembered seeing on the events page that the establishment had recently moved . Maybe this was an old address. Sometimes in these situations when data is slow, you haven’t got time to wait for it. If you dither, you look lost, then you look vulnerable – then you are prey! I found a bus stop on a main-ish road and tried to load the event page. My strategy was that if a bus came, I would get on it, no matter where it was going. The bus driver would help. As it happened, the page loaded and when I found the location, it was indeed in a different place but only a few blocks away. As I followed the directions hastily, I began to see regular people: an elderly couple, a trendy looking guy – yea a bar! The Ong King Arta Centre was still not visible anywhere, but the kind staff at the Proof bar helped me to locate it – through their back door. The relief was the same as dreaming that you murdered someone and then waking up.
The Ong King Arts Centre was vibey, hippie and cool. There was a small crowd of well-worn ( meaning my age) musos chilling outside. My heart warmed. It was a great night in the end. featuring these really great vintage musicians, and a lady with the French horn. I did a set of four, and sold 2 CD’s.
Well in fact I swapped one for a plateful of proper food with vegetables which I could feel my body absorbing urgently. ( The hostel isn’t well located for groceries). The sound system is excellent and the nature of the venue – a kind of building site / industrial work in progress provided wonderful natural reverb. I left at 10.30 to ensure no issues with getting back; admittedly there was a bit of a cafufflle but I made it. The only other thing I must remember, other than checking the venue location, is that I have clothing later for the bus. It’s boiling outside but the AC is near freezing. Eventful night.