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Best of 2017 according to me | honolulu's nightlife diaries

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Best of 2017 according to me

January 22nd, 2018 · 3 Comments

It’s difficult to be as thorough with my “Best Of” post this year because I spent much of it hunkered down working to stay healthy. That’s actually a good thing because IT WORKED!

I’m still here!!

It’s also hard to write a Best of 2017 post after such a disastrous political year and everyone in such a bad mood. It made me never want to leave my house even when I was healthy enough to leave my house.

However, there is a beautiful thing I saw in 2017. These public scandals, natural disasters, mass murders, political nightmares are bringing people closer together. Tragedy is causing more and more humans to understand how fleeting life really is. More and more people are waking up to what is truly important in life: love and compassion. It’s been raising the frequency of our whole planet

I saw something else: business owners are getting younger. Kids are coming up saying
“I refuse to be chained to a desk.” Or
“If I’m going to work my ass off it’s going to be for something that makes me passionate.”
They are taking huge risks and living their dream. Investing in their dream. I feel that! At least here in our little big city I do.

With that, I think there are enough things I did experience in 2017 to make this list. Before I begin may I just say a huge thank you to all of you out there working so hard. Sacrificing comfort to launch your dream, working hard to thrive, investing in new business, or just making that extra effort to really provide something good. Sorry if I missed you but these are the BESTs that I have seen for 2017.

So without further ado…


Riana Stellberg
This is always so hard to nail down to just one, but Queen Tittahbyte still takes the top spot. As someone I’ve been watching since the Queen Supreme she is truly getting better and badder each year. Her parties, her store, her writing and photography, her DJing have always been on point, but now that she’s stepped up for BAMP to help get the right shows out here (who do you think turned the BAMPers on to Kehlani!) I’m quite certain she will remain on top for many years.
She confessed to me her fear of burning out like, every time I’ve seen her this year… but when you look at just what she’s accomplished be careful,
you might burn out.


Beckie Stocchetti

One would think stepping up to fill the shoes of the “face” and Executive Director of the Hawaii International Film Festival Chuck Boller is a daunting, intimidating and frankly impossible task. Enter: one young Beckie Stocchetti. From where I sit, that had to be a huge challenge for anyone, but Beckie is richly experienced. I remember seeing all the art house films at Doris Duke back when she was curating those and I tell you – the woman is gifted with selection. Don’t believe me? Her first year at HIFF they screened hundreds of films that included more Oscar & Golden Globe mentions that I can remember in years past. Just when I was thinking it would be impossible to replace the beardy tuxedo wearing local celebrity in his own right Mr. Boller but she slid in there like a gangster and is making a name for professional women in all industries.

Best Millennial

I want to acknowledge this new generation (and their part VII, 2c, schedule b, random semi-attached generations before/after the “core” millennial age group). While I do accept that hundreds of them probably already stopped reading this long post with no pictures (jkjk), there is something very special about the new gen.

It’s so easy to pick on them and generalize them,
but I see that this new generation coming up could very well SAVE US ALL.
There are more woke kids I’m meeting and interacting with than entitled kids.  Sure social media can create some deluded, narcissistic, comment trolling bullies, but most people I talk to in the younger generation don’t even use social media. “That’s for my parents and teachers to use” one 7th grader told me. Just trust me, the future is not as doomed as some might think.
So without further ado, my pick for 2017:

Lala Openi
Lala and her crew are a true testament to what I just said. Bringing so much San Francisco je ne se qua to Hawai’i in 2017 and creating the most epic community of creatives and “We don’t give a fck what you think about us. We are already gold.” vibe, one woman is charging a new path for not just the creatives or the LGBT community, but for the new future. The less judgy, more accepting, wildly creative, enjoying life, be nobody but yourself generation. Get familiar with Openi’s vibe, her film “U” that screened at HIFF, her INBTWNS parties, her epic merch, and indulge in her hilarious captions on her Instagram posts. I have only scratched the surface of getting to know her and everything I’m seeing is already blowing me away.

Best Influencer
Pineapple Ice
From a numbers standpoint if you’re looking for the fastest way into the millennial market grass roots style, Lindsey is the only woman you should talk to. Her portfolio is bursting at the seams with top global brands from luxury to local all the way down to street. Sis is legit af too. Show up to Manifest on a Superhandsome Saturday night and guarantee you’ll see her and her crew body rolling to DJ Delve with zero fcks given.
Kuhao Zane
Everything he is eating, everything he is wearing (ok most of it is his own designs – bonus points), everywhere he is jetting off to, everyone he is hyping, his front-row perspective at all of the most sacred Hawai’ian events that most of us would never otherwise have the opportunity to experience first-hand, his public appearances, panel discussions, lavish fundraisers, beers with the boys, and perspective on everything in the world….. he’s an inspiration to all men. I hope they are watching.

Best IT Girl
Julianne Chu

Truly one of the greatest women to bump into anywhere in this city. Julie is so kind and upbeat. Thank you for showing other perfect-10 supermodel women that it is possible for someone so beautiful to be so kind. Not to downplay by any means all of the degenerate comments you all must have to put up with on the daily! Trust me I get it. You would never believe the whistling and comments yelled at us females when I worked at the HQ in Naples. From male soldiers! I felt so exposed in cotton white summer uniforms walking by them every morning. So anyway, yes. It can be daunting to always be smiling but Julie is such a natural.

Best IT Dude
Ekona Ravey
Just the fact this beautiful creature uses Twitter already has stolen my heart.
SIDEBAR: I’ve said this too many times: most of you are using Facebook for posts that should be on Twitter. Sure, it’s easier to just use one app for all of that but Facebook is using a lot more of your bandwidth and who knows what else it’s doing. Twitter was MEANT for shorter quips throughout the day. If you are posting more than once a day on Facebook, please try Twitter.
Anyway, back to Ekona… truth be told, we used to talk story a lot back when I was working at Young’s. As the bartender at M he knew I loved cocktail onions with my vodka so he would slide a shot glass full of them next to my drink. There was one time after I was sick but went back to work that I came around and he saw me from across the bar. Even from far away I saw his clear grey eyes get huge and he ran into the back. He came back with a quartz crystal he had charged in the meteor shower for me for my healing. When I sat at the bar and had sushi for my birthday he brought my check that was just a blank piece of receipt that said “Oh my gah we lahhhve you!”
Ok ok ok it sounds like I just have a huge crush on him but really it’s about his way of life and my whole “It” philosophy. These bananas-attractive people who could have anyone or anything in the world they want still remain so humble, open, friendly and approachable. They realize they can use their powers to improve the lives of the people around them. They walk into a room and make it better. It’s such a gift.

Best IT Couple
a.k.a couples I never get sick of seeing post their happy pics online. please invite me to the wedding.

Kris and Tia
Have you ever heard the story of an enlightened young creature with a physical appearance that is fit for a goddess and her loving buddha bf…

Michael and Nina
The vegan Nina Cucina making grab n go at the Waimanalo Co-Op and the vegan chef at the vegan restaurant right next door just both happen to be beautiful inside and out and just happened to fall in love. Storybook stuff right here!

Debin and Chanel
Debin could be a cocky douchebag so easily. He’s the o.g. grom in the Kicks HI crew since most people were in high school and one of the top club DJs in the city. My favorite two things about him- his effortless swaggy personal style and the fact that he is always so humble and kind. There’s no doubt Chanel – a perfect 10 supermodel District dime – knows she scored.

Katrina and Beats
Already married edition. Who doesn’t know these two?! There’s so many fond memories but my favorite is seeing Beats getting serious with his going out ensemble. Katrina is a natural and the two of them together just drops bombs. I’ll never forget when Beats installed an AC unit for me so I could keep cool in that hot hot summer of ’15 after my chemotherapy. Great people these two.

Best IT Couple – With Kids edition
a.k.a. posts I never get tired of seeing. please invite me to the grad party.
The Kemas


Alvin and Kelsey

Best Mommy
Ashley Leong-Kema

Best Family
Chuck and Zana and Mew and Rita and Tui. I might be biased.

Best Renaissance Moke
My biggest crush in this city is the guy who posts the most cringeworthy posts on his Twitter. Thousands of dudes idolize him on his Facebook truth bombs. Beauty queens, porn stars, bottle servers flock to be in his presence. He is confidant and outrageous, but also highly intelligent and doesn’t touch alcohol or drugs.
He’s renaissance because he doesn’t just “dabble” in tons of things, he excels. at. all. of. them.
Shooting photos or video, DJing, editing, producing, rap battles, porn, you name it. My favorite in 2017 was hearing him on the radio with Micah Banks. I would be stopped at a red light laughing out loud alone in my car and see someone else laughing too. Just daaaang.

Best Dressed

Lesli Yano
I first worked with Lesli for her fundraiser for the American Heart Association. I remember in the meetings thinking “dang this woman is cool as hell” she was brave enough to wear bright red lipstick in the office, which most of you ladies know is a huge commitment to keep that stuff looking good. Her outfits from the top of her head down to her tippy toes are always so creative. Bright colors, tons of coordinated accessories, nothing is too crazy! and it all just seems to work. Effortlessly. I’m sure you guys can think of someone you know where their sense of style just works. It’s hard for most of us to really go out on that limb and own it. I’ve tried here and there but usually stick to the safer, more classic (read: plain) way of dressing at work. Lesli? This woman is quite the character. It’s almost like a cartoon became real life. That’s a huge compliment.
Brent Anbe
Michelle Chestnut Stofie

Best Outfit of the Day Posts
You have been listening to her silky smooth radio voice since your parents drove you to school, but did you know “KSSK Kathy” is also a banging stylie? Lurk her Instagram to stay abreast of what kind of creative ensemble she has effortlessly put together and be inspired.

Best Stylies
Roberta Oaks

Best Vintage
Barrio Vintage

Best Instagram


Best Instagram Stories

Best Snapchat

Best Twitter

Best Website
Honolulu Magazine

Best Magazine
Flux Hawaii

Best Music Website
Aloha Got Soul

Best Monthly Party
Art After Dark at Hawaii Museum of Art
Groove Box at Bevy Bar

Best Weekly Party
Industry Night Mondays at Lulu’s Waikiki
Nooooobody works harder in a tourist city than the service industry. I’m surprised there aren’t more raging weeklies with great discounts for them (if there are, please mention in the comments). Of all the types of nightlifers, they are the absolute best people to have raging in your bar or club. They actually tip, and they drink a LOT. I gotta give it to Lulu’s Monday night weekly (which, if you are SI it’s your Saturday night) where they give service card holders half off their food AND drinks. No wonder this weekly is still the weekly on top.

Best Fancy Party
Dinner en Blanc

Best Weekend Always Good
Manifest Hawaii

Best Sexy Wine Bar
Tchin Tchin!

Best Nightclub/Bottle Service
Year after year. Congratulations you guys!

Best Late Night

Best Members Only
Asylum Afterhours

Best You Didn’t See Me Here 

Best Concert Venue
The Republik
Hawaiian Brians

Best Live Music and a Beer
Mai Tai Bar
Hawaiian Brian’s

Best Makeshift Concert or Party
PURE Nightclub

Best Venue for a Pool Party
Hawaiian Aroma Caffe.
I expect someone to please take the reigns and execute more in 2018. Please. For all of us.

Best First Date
Cafe Sistina
From the outside it looks like a storefront. On the inside I was transported directly back to Italy. Holy Moses!  Their high ceilings covered in Chef Sergio’s ode to the Sistine Chapel art, their delightfully authentic menu selection, and their very polite staff all made a great impression. It’s been right there this whole time but 2017 was the year I finally set foot inside. Wow. I will be back soon. cive diamo.

Best Karaoke
Nocturna Lounge

Best Karaoke Clique
Nocturna Lounge
If you don’t have friends and want to meet people start hanging out in the main room here. The group of regulars are a wicked bunch of characters.

Best Rooftop
The Hideout at the Laylow 
Tommy Bahamas Waikiki
SKY Waikiki

Best Festival
Hawaii International Film Festival
This event is so very close to my heart. I love their humble beginnings and how huge they are now. I mean, they are THE premiere festival of the entire Pacific region. When I was in the Navy I worked at the HelpDesk for the entire Pacific region, I KNOW how huge that is. China, Japan, Tahiti, Korea, Tibet, New Zealand, India, Samoa, India for god’s sake. There are over 100 films in the October event, and also a ton in the spring festival. I just love the buzz of all the international press, the filmmakers, directors, cast and families all coming together in Hawai’i for this. They are embodying these beloved islands for the pacific hub that we are. The 2017 #HIFF37 festival particularly stood out with its programming. So many of the films I saw and loved are already on the SAG and Golden Globe list, and I’m sure they will be on the Oscars list as well. Lady Bird in particular, with a 99% score on rotten tomatoes was a low budget coming of age film that the HIFF programmers could immediately see as something special. There’s actually quite a few- more than I can remember from any of the other 36 festivals.

Honorable Mention:
Hawaii Food & Wine Festival
The HFWF is killing it on the global charts bringing more visibility to local chefs, getting on celebrity chefs radar, and hence growing tourism. Plus, yummy food. AND cocktails! The state just loves them because the state loves money, but I would like to see this festival more accessible for people who are working three jobs to be able to live here. Blue/Yellow card holders especially.

Best New Event
KINGS, QUEENS, and INBTWNS at The Manifest

Quality crowd trumps just a crowd. These young creatives aren’t interested in standing around being judgy. They are dancing, smiling, laughing and making memories, being examples of personal style, and influencing the new gen to discover who they really are.

Best Daytime Party
The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
Extra points for integrating the most interesting features: Alex from The Cut, haku-lei making with Meliana or Paiko, awesome clothing and bikini vendors amongst your already award-winning design and cutsey-ness. Check their website for event calendar.

Best Party to Dance
House music events live and die with Soulgasm in my opinion. They are the most consistent, most vibey events this city has for house music.  Going strong longer than anything I know in the nightlife, Lyanne Brooks and her crew are so pleasant and steadfast. I’m a fan.

Best Promoters
These millennials inched their way up from low-key killing it to more sellout shows in 2017. They are already making announcements f0r 2018 with shows confirmed going all the way to Spring. This is all fine and dandy but what really impressed me in 2017 was how many different people came up to me and introduced themselves saying “Hi! I’m part of Audiophile!” They were so kind and so proud to be a part of the team. It left such a great impression. It really makes a difference.

Hawaii’s Finest (duh)

Best DJ Sets: Online
Thank fck you DJs upload some of your sets… because I didn’t get out much.

David Naylon
Chad Wies
Keala Kennelly
Sophia Kennedy

Best DJ Logo

Best Secret Spot
Harry’s Hardware Emporium

Watching Dave Newman come up in the bar industry is one of my favorite things about the bar industry. There’s a very fine line between being a master at cocktails and being an egotistical dipshit; a lesson I learned working so many years in the industry. How Dave has always kept such a friendly laid-back demeanor even as he’s risen literally to the top of his game is beyond me, but I appreciate it dearly. Since I’ve known him he went from slinging cocktails at Nobu Waikiki to winning cocktail competitions to bringing a dream of his own bar to an award-winning reality. From bartender to barmaster to president of the bartender’s guild with tons of national press, you wouldn’t really know how epic he is if you see him on the street. But behind his bar? Whoo! Lookout. Now in 2017 he’s brought another dream to reality. Harry’s Hardware Emporium is a finely tuned speak-easy bar that isn’t the easiest to get into, which is what makes it so epic. Ask somebody, don’t be a douchebag, and enjoy some very hard to find brown liquor and classic cocktails.

The Hi Brau Room
Hi Brau room might be easier to discover but as far as that whole speak-easy vibe it’s quite romantic.

Best Bloody Mary
Pint & Jigger
Downbeat Diner

Best Hangover Remedy
Kokohead Cafe
Chef Lee Anne Wong’s poi biscuit and mushroom gravy  

Best Old College Friends in Town Lets Get Drinks
RumFire Waikiki
La Mariana Sailing Club

Best Friends in Town Let’s Get Drunk
The Myna Bird Tiki Bar

Best Healthy Friends in Town Lets Eat
Ai Love Nalo
Wednesday Farmer’s Market Blaisdell
This one is my favorite of all the Farmer Markets because of all the free easy parking. It’s also a great place to lay down a blanket and chill with your fresh locally made foodie food. Like all of them, you need to be as early as possible to get the best stuff (now I am so super craving one of those savory quinoa pies from Sweet Revenge).

Helena’s Hawaiian Food
I’m so happy they expanded the restaurant.

Best Healthy Friends in Town Let’s Cook
I love the idea of having Chef Will choreographing my daily cuisine with local produce and gourmet recipes. Only thing, it’s way too much food for one person. BUT! It’s perfect for when people are visiting. Or if you live in a household that consists of more than 1.

Best Father in Law* in Town Lets Get Drinks
Bar Leather Apron
*Can also include Clients, Dad, Grandpa, Brother, Uncle, Friend

*don’t forget to call ahead and reserve your seat at the bar

Best Family in Town
Turtle Bay Resort

Best Family in Town (Budget)
The Laylow, Autograph Collection

Best Boutique Hotel
The SurfJack Hotel & Swim Club

Best Feel Like a Rockstar
Modern Honolulu

Best Feel Like You’re in Europe
Cafe Sistina
Some of the best Italian food I’ve had since … well Italy. Can’t believe I’ve never been here until 2017.

Best Feel Like You’re in Mexico
Alejandro’s Mexican Food

Best Dainty Bites
Encore Saloon
They have amazing street corn…. served off the cob in a bowl!

Best Coffee
Hawaiian Aroma Caffe

Best Someone Else is Paying

Best Brunch
Koko Head Cafe
They had a mishap this year that could (and does) happen to any food service restaurant. The sad thing is it’s impossible to know how it happened. Sure, everyone is quick to blame the restaurant, the food, or its staff, but customers coming in could have also been infected and spread it quickly through the bathroom faucets, door handles, bar top or sharing a salad. This would be a good time to respectfully ask you to put the pitchforks down. Things happen. Either way, the fact that Herringbone is still open, quadruple-disinfected, and even more lazer-focused on cleanliness than ever has me wishing I was eating there right now. Chef Ray Ray’s mochi pancakes with the lilikoi syrup… I’m going right now.

Best Local Music Act
Again, from what I saw in 2017. There are tons I’m missing and I know this. Please comment your favorites from last year. Here are the best I was lucky enough to see:
Taimane Gardner
Izik has one of the greatest IG stories too. Check him out.

Best Worst
Delivery apps
Hooray, we finally got Uber eats in Honolulu. There’s also Aloha2go which is now Bite Squad and Postmates. Between these three everyone is going to be fat and broke.
Wait a second there is one that is OK. Instacart. There was never a time when I was good at shopping. Groceries especially. Selecting what I need with a search bar and having someone else go get it for me for like $9 is pretty much worth it, especially if what I need is from Costco (which they have!).

Best Unplug
Because even though we live on a beautiful island, the stressors of our busy lives can often take over and have us snapping at each other, road raging, or feeling frustrated. Hang in there!

Dream Float Hawaii

Chozen-ji Zen dojo

Say hello to the spot that I’ve been frequenting  since summer. I know a lot of you have been seeing this place on my IG stories or in photos. It’s also the venue for our new ACP monthly. (!!)
What I love about this place is how welcoming they are. It’s not religious or culty and they are open to any age, ethnicity, or level of training. I go for the meditation and have dabbled in some of their fine arts and archery but just being there is a new kind of indulgence for me. Instead of my usual DJing a gig or three then partying until Jan 2nd on NYE I was here, facilitating the massive bell ringing tradition amidst the Kalihi valley illegal aerials. I couldn’t think of anywhere else in the world I would rather be.

Best Better Yourself: Millennial 
Aloha Dreamboards

Best Better Yourself: All Ages
Sunrise Foundation Hawaii

Most Connected Marketing Company
Moderne Media
Flash Hansen has more experience in the service industry than anyone I know. His exit as BAMP’s marketing director left a gaping hole (have you seen their social media lately?). His decision to work as hard as he does for himself instead of making other people rich was a risky one, but he is charging full steam ahead with his partner Cydney Chu. She’s a hyper-organized project-based marketer with excellent graphic design skills and he’s the magic that is all over the place all the time and cool with everybody. I expect to see even bigger things happening for them in 2018.

Best Use of My Story for Advertising
C-HR Launch Toyota Hawaii – Oi Agency, Redefined Media
“Driven by defying odds”

What a gift to be asked to shoot a little mini-doc about a day in my life and get paid to do it! This was a brilliant campaign and a wonderful way to put some money in my pocket while I patiently wait for the post-production on my film. There’s not a lot I’m able to do for work right now but share my story is definitely something! Thank you so much to the kickass women at Oi Agency.
Sidenote: anyone else that can execute a way for me to casually use my talents for pay feel free to contact me.

Best Most Potential in 2018
Hawaiian Aroma Caffe
Jonathan now has 4 locations and is very focused on the exact vibe he wants at his Waikiki rooftop location. You might be familiar with that spot if you went to Juliet’s Women Speaking Out event or my birthday party CHRISTA-mas! It’s a really great spot for pool parties or sexy sunset parties and the owner has a very clear idea of the vibe he wants for his venue. Think more Ibiza than Vegas. I actually might come out of retirement to pull something off. Maybe.

That’s all I got. Back to our regularly scheduled 2018. I know it’s going to be a good one. I also know it’s going to have some hurdles… some struggles… even some pain. But now I have a clearer picture of existence so those snags shouldn’t get so stuck. It’s a lot easier now to let things go. Less attachment/expectations equals less disappointment. You guys know I always believed in focusing energy on the positive rather than the negative. It’s so true that it can affect your personal outcomes. I’m living proof. 

Our city has it’s issues but it’s still such a wonderful city. My wish for this year is that more people can appreciate what they have and what’s around them.

Tags: Best

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Davi // Jan 25, 2018 at 1:07 am

    Always love your Best of List. Looking forward to a terrific 2018 and your next List and many more after that!

  • 2 David // Jan 25, 2018 at 1:07 am

    Always love your Best of List. Looking forward to a terrific 2018 and your next List and many more after that!

  • 3 Christa // Jan 25, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    i got at least another 20 years in me. although soon it’s going to be “best green smoothie” “best lymphatic drainage” “best hydrocolonic” ;)

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