At the corner of what is now Baker Street and Marina Boulevard in San Francisco’s Marina District was where the Hawaiian Pavilion stood during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915.
These Hawaiian shows had the highest attendance at the entire fair and launched a Hawaiian cultural craze that influenced everything from American music, to movies, to fashion. (Mushet)
“The hugely popular Hawaii pavilion … showcased Hawaiian music and hula dancing, and was the unofficial launching pad for ukulele-mania.” Hapa-haole songs were featured in the Hawaii exhibits and hula ‘auana, contemporary hula was born.
‘Princess Lei Lokelani’ performed traditional foot movements – ku‘i and ‘uwehe – to modern ‘ukulele and steel guitar songs – this also launched the hapa-haole hula phenomenon into broader markets. (Wianecki)
Today, hula has been divided into two main categories; hula ‘auana and hula kahiko, also known as modern hula and ancient hula.
Hula ‘auana are always accompanied by mele, and have soft and floating movements. The ‘auana is also inspired by the hula of the 20th century up until the late 1960s, including the hapa haole styled hula. (Torgersen)
The costumes of the hula ‘auana are different from the kahiko costumes, which usually involve a pā‘ū (hula skirt) and a top to match the pā‘ū for female dancers, and a malo (loincloth) for the male dancers, as well as anklets, wristlets and a headpiece made from traditional hula plants and flowers.
The ‘auana costumes often involve mu‘umu‘u (long dress or gown) for women and black pants, a shirt and sash for the men. The women often have large headpieces made from flowers and greens and may wear shoes as part of the costume.
The kahiko dances must always be danced barefoot, and the dancer is not allowed any jewelry or excessive makeup. (Torgersen)
By 1916, there were hundreds of Hapa Haole tunes written. That same year, reportedly more Hawaiian records were sold on the mainland than any other type of music.
And they came in all the popular styles of the day: in ragtime, blues, jazz, foxtrot and waltz tempos, as “shimmy” dances and–even–in traditional hula tempos, but jazzed up a bit.
In 1935, a radio program began, broadcasting live from the Banyan Court of the Moana Hotel on the beach at Waikīkī, and radios nationwide tuned in to hear “Hawaii Calls.” Not only did nearly every island entertainer cut his or her teeth on the program, many went on to become well known.
The ‘Princess’ was 15-year old Elizabeth Jonia Leilokelani Shaw; she and her family were a hit at the Exposition. “A native of Hawaii, Shaw went to Portland with her family, several of whose members are professionals, in 1906.”
“Her first professional appearance was at the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco, where she was featured for her beauty and talents as a dancer in the Hawaiian village on the zone.” (Variety, May 6, 1921) She was so popular that she was almost crowned ‘Queen of the Zone,’ missing the honor by just a few votes. (Wianecki)
For the next four years, she was doing vaudeville as ‘Jonia and Her Hawaiians,’ “in which she is assisted by her sister and a male Hawaiian orchestra of four pieces. Jonia’s efforts consist of two dances, one with her sister, who appears in male attire, and one as a solo.”
“The remainder is made up of work by the orchestra, one of the men handling a vocal solo with the others playing a duet with steel guitars.”
“The Jonia act is still suitable for vaudeville, notwithstanding the number of turns of this order that have been seen about during past season.” (Variety, May 11, 1917)
Elizabeth Jonia Leilokelani Shaw, aged 20, was stricken with pneumonia at Washington, DC. She was brought to Portland and died there April 18, 1921. (Variety, May 6, 1921)