SuperCity: San Diego club owners look to Waikiki
BY CHRISTA WITTMIER / Special to the Star-Advertiser
As I’m up to my elbows in work, I find many of my meetings are in Waikiki. So it’s still funny to me when locals ask why I’m trying to get them to come to that area.
The first question is always, “Where do I park?”
I totally get it. But I’ve also worked around the issue for so long it’s funny to me. Not long ago, Waikiki was the only place we went to party. If a whole generation is having this much of a crisis figuring it out, then I’m a lot older than I thought.
There was a big announcement last week that “CabaRAE” open late this summer at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The long-abandoned area near the Tapas Pool Bar will soon be a 10,000-square-foot circus tent, home to performers from around the world in a Cirque du Soleil-like experience that includes an afterparty from 10:30 p.m. until 2 a.m. I immediately thought of LEVEL4 Nightclub when I heard about the new space, and so I reached out to talk to the people behind “CabaRAE.”
“CabaRAE” executive producer and creative director Alan Goldberg was, in fact, affiliated with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. His business partner, RMD Group, runs FLUXX, one of the sickest nightclubs in all of San Diego. I met RMD’s Dave Renzella when he was here visiting fellow Southern California nightlife developer Matt Bendik (who launched Addiction Nightclub the Modern Honolulu).
Renzella is very sharp, very approachable and keen to what’s hot. He is out constantly and always stays ahead of trends, changing up FLUXX’s entire theme (called Fluxxuations ) often. With the themes come huge displays, staff decked out in coordinated uniforms, special guests and shows that take over the entire nightclub. Whether it’s Pollination with thousands of butterflies and flowers, or Aquatic with a 800-gallon aquarium tank and live mermaid, FLUXX takes clubbing as an experience to extreme new heights.
While Honolulu’s “CabaRAE” performance space will not double as a nightclub, per se, we can definitely expect the same attention to detail when it comes to look and feel of the show’s afterparty as the production itself.
“We plan on creating more of a cool lounge vibe during the 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. afterparty portion of the night,” Renzella said via email. “We are creating a unique lounge environment where people who just saw the ‘CabaRAE’ show can mix and mingle with the performers after the show, and then the venue opens up to the general public so everyone can enjoy an infused artistic environment.
“We love the location and feel strongly that both locals and tourists will be drawn to the show and that it’s an experience they will return to again and again.”
Interior design will be handled by Nevada-based theatrical designer Jeannette Farmer and progressive and modern architecture enthusiast designer Davis Krumins. Krumins, of Davis Ink., has had his hands in a huge A-list of award-winning designs in Southern California, including Bendik’s Hollywood hot-spot AV and FLUXX.
While the show’s cast will appear during the afterparty in a non-performing role, there could still be surprises.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see some of them entertain guests spontaneously,” Goldberg said via email.
I immediately thought of acrobats spinning over our heads at LEVEL4 while we danced beneath them. It was also the first time I was ever in a club that used confetti and thought it was the most amazing thing ever.
“Honolulu has a very progressive urban nightlife scene,” Renzella said. “Now is the time to revitalize the late-night scene in Waikiki.”
With cast already on-island and “CabaRAE” set to open in August, I will definitely be looking forward to wrapping up summer in Waikiki this year.
Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young’s Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular “Bacardi Pool Party” on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.