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Aloha, Boston

by Madison Cebular

Photography courtesy of the BU Hawaii Cultural Association

Welcomed with a lei and an “Aloha,” BU students and non-BU students alike recently filled the Metcalf Ballroom for the BU Hawaii Cultural Association’s 24th Annual Lu'au.

The theme for this year’s Lu’au was “Ke ala i Kahiki,” The Pathway to Tahiti (or a foreign location), and it explored the relationship between Hawaiian culture, Tahitian culture and the other foreign cultures that influence Hawaii.

“The purpose of the Lu’au is to bring a piece of Hawaiian culture to the BU and Boston community,” said Jack Gregory (Questrom ’18, CAS ’18), co-president of the HCA. “We hope to educate others about the culture we know and love, and spread a little Aloha to everyone.”

The event draws people from all around. Alum and former co-president of HCA Kimi Weeks (SHA ’16) attended the Lu’au with other BU alumni.

“We all have strong ties to Hawaii,” said Weeks. “It’s fun to see, and it’s a fun environment to be in.”

According to Gregory, the Lu’au is planned throughout the entire year, which was evident in the activity-filled night. Over the course of the evening, guests were treated to dinner, games, activities and performances.

Traditional Hawaiian dishes served at the Lu’au included kalua pork, garlic chicken, lomi-lomi salmon and haupia, a coconut dessert with a similar consistency to gelatin. Most attendees helped themselves to seconds.

In addition to the food, another fan favorite of the night was the Hawaiian themed activities that engaged audience members in between performances.

Volunteers were taken to participate in games, such as a Pidgin English game that asked volunteers to read and translate Hawaiian phrases as well as a Haka Moa game that involved participants standing on one leg and attempting to push each other out of a circle.

However, the main event of the night would have to be the dance performances. After weeks of practices, dancers took the stage to perform, among other traditional dances, a couples dance, a Tahitian dance and the haka.

“My favorite was the Haka because most of the people in it aren’t even in HCA, so it’s cool to see other people in the BU community getting involved,” said alum Tyler Bartels (CAS ’16).

The haka is a Maori dance typically performed before battle or as a ceremonial performance and made popular worldwide by the New Zealand rugby team the All Blacks. In recent years, HCA has asked the BU Men’s Club Water Polo team to participate in the dance.

Jared Lorusso (SAR ’18), senior captain and president of water polo, has danced the haka for four years now and helped teach the dance to new performers this year. In preparation for the event, Lorusso said he researched the haka to learn about the importance of the movements and shouts involved in the dance.

“We love the whole event,” Lorusso said. “It’s really fun to learn about Polynesian culture, which doesn’t usually receive a lot of exposure in New England.”

Gregory hopes that in the future this collaboration with groups outside of HCA will continue to grow.

“I would love to see the club collaborate more with other cultural organizations,” he said. “Whether that be through a luau or some other collaborative event, I think that would be very cool to see.”

One thing is for certain, at the Lu’au, just as in Hawaii, everyone is welcome to share in the adventure.

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