“The pounding of native drums and an old Hawaiian chant, together with soothing tones of an ultra-modern dance orchestra, gave birth to a fascinating dance the natives named ‘Oni-Oni.’” (Hnl Adv, September 27, 1934)
“South America has its rhumba; Spain its tango; Harlem its shuffle – and now Hawaii has its ‘Oni Oni,’ that combines all these features plus the sway of the hula.”
“This fascinating dance to music composed by Harry Owens, director of the Royal Hawaiian orchestra, was presented Thursday evening at the famous beach hotel by Miss Hazel Hale and Clayton Romler.” (Hnl Adr, September 30, 1934)
“Hazle Hale has played on the RKO circuit at Paramount studies, Hollywood, and has been features danseuse with the Belcher Hollywood Bowl ballet. She is a graduate of Belcher’s studio of dancing.”
“Clayton Romler has been featured in a long list of productions. He has appeared at Warner Bros. Theaters, Inc Hollywood, at Paramount Publix … (and) was master of ceremonies and featured dancer at the Cathay hotel roof garden, Shanghai … and toured the Far East in 1933.” Star-Bulletin, September 27, 1934)
“A cosmopolitan crowd applauded the Oni-Oni dance … at the Royal Hawaiian. The dance, high light of the evening at the hotel dinner-dance, was demonstrated … To music which combined the primitive tone of old Hawaii with the modern rhythm of today.” (Hnl Adv, September 30, 1934)
“(Oni Oni) has a bit of foxtrot, a suggestion of waltz, and eccentricity of the Harlem shuffle, the subtleness of the tango and the sway of the hula.” (Hnl Adv, September 27, 1934) Dance steps include (as described in the Advertiser and State Archives:
1st position: The opening position of the ‘Oni Oni’ must be danced to music with a 1 and 2 and 1 and 2 rhythm, allowing for a sudden startling change into the primitive 5-4 times.
Man starts with right foot forward, lady steps back on her left in a hula dip, keeping a 1 and 2, and 1 and 2 count. This step done with a swing to a traveling hula step breaking into a 1,2,3 and 1,2,3 rhythm. Repeat once.
2nd position: With the gentlemen’s left arm up and the lady’s right arm extended, a sway step is first made to gentlemen’s left, still keeping the rhythm of 1, 2, 3 and 1, 2, 3 count, which is repeated once.
The hula-like sway continues with definite steps from left to right. Interpretation of a kiss made with the lady’s right hand and the man’s left, then vice versa, both keeping directly in front of each other. A touch of the syncopated shuffle follows.
3rd position: Change in the dance mood with the man stepping out with the right foot, the lady with the right, and a strut-type of step, followed by a hula sway. Man holds the lady tightly about the waist and lady places her left arm around his neck as he swings her in with a sudden dip.
4th position: Again the sway begins with definite steps from left to right, with the interpretation of a kiss given, followed by a touch of a shuffle. See position 2.
5th position: A decided change in dance mood, with gentleman stepping out with left foot, lady with right and strut type step, with a hula sway following. Then gentleman holds lady tightly around the waist and lady places her left arm around the gntlman’s neck and he swings her with a sudden dip manner.
The lady does a modified quick step 1 and 2, and 1 and 2 rhythm, while the man enters into a primitive 5-4 rhythm, making a decided contrast moving front and back, right foot forward. Followed by a fast turn around the floor with drums beating louder in the primitive rhythm.
6th position: With the man’s left arm and lady’s right arm extended upward, a sway step is made to the man’s left, then to right, still keeping the 1,2,3 and 1,2,3 rhythm to intense drum beats of primitive rhythm. For the finish step, lady moves left to right then with a hula movement traveling backward, followed by the man similarly moving forward. This takes up eight measures working into the exit step of the “Oni Oni.”
Finish steps: The lady moves from left to right, then with a hula movement traveling backward, she is followed by the man similarly traveling forward. The step takes eight bars and works into the exit step, finishing the “Oni Oni!”