If you’ve ever been to Party City (I see you big/little week decorations) you’ve probably contemplated buying a seventeen dollar inflatable palm tree — the one with the small kiddie pool at the base to hold… “water.” For many of us born and bred on the mainland, that’s as close to a “real” Lu’au as we’ll ever get. But wait, do you smell that? Is that… Kahlua pig? And Lomi salmon? That’s right, the prep work for Stanford’s very own Lu’au has begun! The island flavor is coming this Saturday, May 14th; sitting down with Cheryl Miyake, Stanford’s little ray of sunshine, you can already begin to feel the Aloha spirit.
I cornered Cheryl during a Lu’au dance practice, after being mesmerized by her hips as she “Kaholo’ed to the right and Kaholo’ed to the left.” Cheryl, a proud member of Kaorihiva, Stanford’s Polynesian dance group, has been dancing hula since age three.
“It’s always been a part of me—I’ve never been able to imagine myself not dancing. So when I [came to Stanford and] heard about Kaorihiva, I decided to try out. I’ve never done Tahitian before, but I’ve always wanted to. Growing up, I always tried to follow the other girls dancing Tahitian, but I could never move my hips fast enough.”
Watching Cheryl get her Tahitian groove on, you have to wonder if she was just a late bloomer. Out of a huge group of girls shaking their hips, Cheryl is the one your eyes are instantly drawn to — despite her petite frame. But, her life isn’t all just about dance. Besides Kaorihiva, Cheryl is the aKDPhi membership chair, Lu’au chair, and Hawaii club’s social chair. Judging from her activities, and sunshine personality, it’s plain to see that the spirit of the islands followed her from Honolulu all the way to the Farm.
“Coming to Stanford, I wanted to learn more about different cultures — almost all of my friends [back in Hawaii] were native Hawaiian. Kaorihiva does all kinds of genres that I never had growing up dancing at a halau.”
Now, Stanford’s upcoming Lu’au is a chance to show others what Polynesian culture is all about.
“Just know that Lu’au here is very different from other schools. It’s not a huge venue—it’s just Hawaii club and the native club sharing our Aloha spirit! It’s cool to find out how our culture from home [Honolulu, Hawaii] has perpetuated.”
So what can Stanford expect to see this upcoming Saturday?
“The food starts at 11:30, and we have kahlua pig, lomi salmon, poi, haupia [a coconut dessert], and fresh fruit with Li Hing Mui powder! And then there’s an off-campus group coming to perform for the opening ceremonies [at 10 am]. Our performance [Kaorihiva and Lu’au] starts at 12:30, and there’s a singer performing native songs as well. The whole purpose for Lu’au is to portray the culture of Polynesia—not just Hawaii.”
Juggling school, Lu’au prep, Kaorihiva practices, and her greek life commitments, Cheryl is Lu’au’s superstar. “Trying to balance everything is really hard,” she bemoans, before letting out a giggle, “my grades have taken a hit.”