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Best Inauguration Party in D.C.? Tickets Still Available – And Reasonable At A True Hawaiian Luau At Hotel Monaco

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Here is a front page story from the Honolulu Advertiser about the best party in Washington DC on Inauguration night:

No room at the inaugural ball? Head for the Hawaii luau in D.C. Group’s bash brings Hawaii to D.C. with local grinds, music

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

They had their airline seats and hotel reservations but no tickets to any of the presidential balls, so a group of friends from Hawai’i decided to throw their own inaugural party in Washington, D.C., based on an old-fashioned Hawaiian lu’au.

"Everything was all sold out," said Stacey Hayashi, an Internet retailer from Waikele. "We decided we should just hold our own party. But we wanted to bring Hawai’i to D.C. because Barack is from here."

The group of about 10 people from across the Islands know each other through film festivals, food and their work honoring the 100th Infantry Battalion, which is famous for its Japanese-American soldiers who served during World War II.

None of the friends had professional event-planning experience, so they turned to what they do know: Island food, Hawaiian music and making connections through friends.

The result is the Inaugural Luau, which represents a touch of the Islands for Hawai’i residents who will be in Washington with no tickets to a ball.

Hayashi was startled to get space on Inauguration Day on Jan. 20 at the Hotel Monaco, two blocks from Obama’s swearing-in ceremony and the Capitol Mall.

At a Los Angeles fundraiser for the "Go For Broke" National Education Center, Hayashi also met up with her friend, Myles Nomura, who manages the Hoku Award-winning group Maunalua.

"The stars started to align," Hayashi said. "As folks from Hawai’i, it was inevitable that we all went out for late-night karaoke afterwards."

During the night, the band accepted Hayashi’s invitation to perform at the lu’au.

"The continuity between our style of grassroots, ‘ohana-first mentality and our president-elect’s mindset lend well to our celebration for him," said lead singer Bobby Moderow Jr.

Les Tomita, chef and owner of Da Kitchen on Maui — whose Kahului restaurant and express restaurant in Kihei have been featured on national food programs — was then recruited to prepare the menu.

"It’ll be all Hawaiian food: laulau, kalua pork, lomi salmon, long rice, poi," Tomita said. "We’re flying in moi, fresh ‘ahi for sashimi and poke — all of that good local stuff."

Tomita briefly considered serving steaks and other traditional American cuisine, "but we wanted to bring a bit of Hawai’i to Washington, D.C.," he said.

He believes that traditional, local food will be welcomed by both Island residents and Mainlanders who attend the lu’au.

"When you eat Chinese food, you don’t feel you’re in China," Tomita said. "With Island cuisine, you actually feel transported to a tropical island. While outside it’s 32-degree weather in Washington, D.C., they’ll feel the warmth of our Islands."

The dress code for the lu’au also will be representative of Island attire.

While other Hawai’i themed balls are drawing buzz for their "Island elegant" dress code, the Inaugural Luau calls for "aloha formal," with plenty of room for local interpretation.

"If they want to wear a tux, they should wear a tux," Hayashi said. "If they want to wear an aloha shirt, they should wear an aloha shirt. Whatever they feel comfortable in. I don’t think there’ll be any slippers. It’ll be too cold."

Hayashi still isn’t sure what she’ll wear, but it’ll probably be a strapless dress with a haku lei.

But Tomita will get off easier than any other man. He plans on wearing a T-shirt and jeans underneath his work uniform of a chef coat.

"Easy for me," he said. "I’ll be working."

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Be there or be square. Hopefully those who can’t get tickets to other events will realize that none will match this true Hawaiian party – at an affordable price.