By Becky Billingsley
Saturday, June 16, 2012, Myrtle Beach - Roast Pork, Blackened Salmon and Teriyaki Short Ribs are part of the delicious offerings at a weekly Myrtle Beach oceanfront luau.
If the weather is fine, the party happens on one of the oceanfront lawns at Springmaid Beach Resort. When there's rain, a roomy first-floor conference hall can handle the crowd. Everyone receives a colorful lei.
Executive Chef Mike Gadson and Sous-Chef Brent Rearick create a banquet of flavors every Sunday, including Traditional Hawaiian Macaroni Salad, Huli Huli Chicken, Hawaiian-style Fried Rice and Roasted Sweet Potatoes. The flavors are authentic; Chef Gadson's wife is a Hawaiian native, and he has traveled there many times to experience and learn the cuisine.
Chef Gadson is also known for his desserts, and at the luau he offers Macadamia Coconut Cream Pie, Red Velvet Cake and Chocolate Bananas Foster Caramel Cake.
While guests dine, entertainment from Chief Kamu's Fire and Hula Show begins, and The Chief gives out door prizes such as light-up leis. After everyone has had their fill from the buffet, Chief Kamu's hula girls, or wahine, perform traditional and modern dances in a variety of costumes.
At one point, audience members of all ages are encouraged to come onstage and learn a few hula moves. Throughout the show, Chief Kamu imparts knowledge about the history of the hula and Hawaiian traditions and language.
The dramatic grand finale comes after the sun has set, and Chief Kamu performs the traditional Fire Dance, which includes breathing fire.
Tickets for the luau are $39 ages 13 and older or $13 ages 12 and younger. Reservations can be made at http://www.springmaidbeach.com/hawaiian-luau/ or by calling (843) 315-7100. Springmaid Beach Resort and Conference Center is at 3200 S. Ocean Blvd.
Meet a Wahine
The first thing spectators will notice about the hula girls in Chief Kamu's show is their youth. A few are adults, but most are teen-agers, and some are elementary school ages.
That's because the Chief recruits young girls to take hula lessons from him twice a week during the school year. In the summer, when more than a dozen nighttime shows are booked, many of the girls hang out with the Chief all day, and he feeds them, and takes them canoeing and for rides on personal watercraft in Murrells Inlet.
"It's like a big party every day," says 13-year-old Nicole Fegett of Murrells Inlet. She has been one of Chief Kamu's wahine for eight years. "We go to his house every day."
When it's show time, the Chief loads the girls up in his van. The girls dance for free.
"I met Chief Kamu's daughter, Hahealani, when we were in Kindergarten," Fegett said on June 13 at her home. "When I was in first grade, she asked me and my mom to come to a hula show. I liked it, and I started lessons."
Each girl has a Hawaiian name, and Fegett's is Kolohe', which means Rascal. Over the years she has learned traditional and modern hula dances and the meanings behind them.
"It's not all just about the moves and costumes," she said. "Every dance tells a story, with different facial expressions and hand motions. Like in the kahiko [dance] there are no smiles. A smile shows dishonor. It's one of the ways you separate between serious hulas and modern hulas."
Fegett's enthusiasm for the hula is evident when she performs. Her hips move like they're disconnected from her spine, and her gestures are precise. She smiles beautifully during modern dances with up-tempos, and she adds joyful shouts at appropriate moments.
The wahine perform for almost a solid hour during the Chief Kamu show, change costumes several times and use different props, like rhythm sticks called Kālaʻau and feathered gourd rattles called ʻUlīʻulī.
This summer Fegett is perfectly happy with spending her days and nights playing and working with the other wahine and Chief Kamu.
"I hope to do this through high school and college," she said. "The shows are at night, so later if I want to get a job that pays I can do that through the day."
Chief Kamu's show schedule can be viewed on his Facebook page.