On our 10th-anniversary trip to Hawaii, my wife and I had watched some Polynesian dances at a luau. We enjoyed the Samoan dance, which was terrifying, and the poi ball dance, which was quite acrobatic. By comparison, hula looked easy. I thought, “I could do that.”
I had been a folk dancer ever since college, and at the time I was very committed to Morris dancing, a flamboyant, extroverted English dance. But a few years later I felt the need to try something new, and I signed up for an introductory hula class at a recreation center in Santa Cruz. When I showed up for the first lesson, the instructor took me aside. “I don’t think some of the other students would be comfortable with you in the class,” she told me. Oh, I thought. Perhaps men aren’t supposed to do hula. I apologized and departed.
About this, too, I was mistaken. Go to any hula competition and you will see breathtaking, athletic and expressive male dancers. Men have done hula since the beginning. Hula was simply a way of telling a story, and there’s no reason that men can’t do that. As a true folk tradition, hula embraces all ages and genders.”