SuperCity: Level H levels up
BY CHRISTA WITTMIER / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Sometimes I think it’s weird how few nightclub promoters there are currently working in Honolulu. Then I think some more and realize that given the circumstances of our unique and amazing city it’s about right that there are just a handful of solid veterans and a revolving door of up-and-comers in Honolulu.
Presented by Level H Promotions and Artist Groove Network
» Where: CabaRAE Showroom, Hilton Hawaiian Village
The legwork and investment needed to be successful here is staggering. The reward isn’t always equal. Stressors come from every angle — from a customer base who feels more entitled than ever before and venues that let greed take over when making business decisions to knowing that just about everyone in your life will turn their back on you at the drop of a hat once you stop providing for them.
And then to lose money on top of all this? The beach just sounds more and more like the best weekend plan.
If you’re a promoter and aren’t going out nightly, most likely you’re in an empty room on your phone for the first three hours if not the entire evening of your event. It’s a humbling experience, but it should also be a lesson to get back to the drawing board.
It’s because of this that Honolulu’s nightlife veterans truly deserve our recognition and respect for making the scene vibrant. Anyone who steps up to host a weekly is illustrious. Level H Promotions currently has three. This weekend they add another monthly party as well, descending upon Waikiki to reshape the beautiful interior of the CabaRAE Showroom at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Level H Promotions was founded by Punahou graduate Hanson Nguyen. Together with his team — Donovan Almarza, Daxs Moorse and Nate “DJ Flip” Corpuz — and a roster of top DJs and go-go talent, the crew has over 20 years of combined experience in the local nightclub and events industry.
On his nights off, Nguyen is usually engaging in “out and about shenanigans” at venues he hosts parties at, including The Fix in Chinatown, RB Sports Bar near Puck’s Alley and Club 939 on Keeaumoku. When he’s not out or working, he’s also a full-time dad.
“I’m all about industry love, especially since I promote an industry night so I try to be everywhere.” said Nguyen. I know this too because I see him everywhere, usually in a suit, always smiling. “I just remember being a rookie amongst nightclub royalty when I first started promoting. It was a steep learning curve and I made a lot of mistakes and I constantly was trying to be innovative.”
Hanson started as an independent promoter in 2005 when he co-produced “Flow,” a monthly hip-hop showcase at the O Lounge (now known as The Republik) that featured Hawaii-based talent. He first broke into the scene as a choreographer, manager and performer for a dance team called Affinity, when promoters would book them as a draw to their events.
His first weekly party was Be Social Fridays at the O Lounge, which turned in to Deuce and featured top go-go dancers like Sheleen Dee, Nikki Sotelo, Cerle Shima and DJs Jimmy Taco and Flip.
“It felt like being an artist, having a vision or concept in your head and getting to materialize it,” said Nguyen. “And the end result made people happy and created memories. It was a joy for me to do that for an occupation.”
This weekend, Level H and Artist Groove Network will make use of the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s beautiful, multi-million dollar circus space with a sexy party. It was set up to be a possible monthly event, but so far the venue will determine when future parties will be held. It’s only fair to see what they can do; I’m pretty sure these guys can deliver.
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.