CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Former Wave staffers gathered at Senor Frog's in Waikiki recently to reminisce about their old workplace, which they all fondly remember.
Wave faithful endure
A reunion party brings together former staffers
THE WAVE might be gone, but it's highly unlikely the demolished Waikiki landmark will fade from Clubland's collective memory anytime soon.
'The Wave Waikiki Reunion'
Featuring RAIL and DJs KSM, racerX and Byron the Fur
Place: Senor Frog's, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center
Time: 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Nov. 21
"People still talk to me about it every single day, either telling me a Wave story or just that they miss the Wave," laughed Flash Hansen, who handled promotions at the nightclub from 1998 to 2006. "Some way, somehow, the Wave Waikiki comes up every day."
Former employees, customers and anyone who missed out during the Wave's 25 years of business will have a chance to reconnect and reminisce next week, when Senor Frog's hosts the first Wave Waikiki reunion celebration.
WHEN THE Wave closed in May 2006, about 30 employees lost their jobs, with countless others losing their favorite post-2 a.m. hangout.
For owner Jack Law, the final days were more about those people than the demise of the club itself.
"Towards the end, I wanted it to be OK for the employees and I wanted it to be OK for the customers," he said. "As an owner, I've got to admit it was hard sailing at the end, but I felt like I had to keep it together."
Law sounds patriarchal when speaking about those employees and patrons, and familial overtones resonate when others talk about their relationship with him.
Michael Eggman worked at the Wave from 1996 to 2003, witnessing everything from "rock 'n' roll and grunge bands up to the cutting-edge DJ and hip-hop stuff" while slinging drinks behind the bar. But it was the way his boss treated him that left the most lasting impression.
"In Hawaii, people always jump around trying to find the next best gig," Eggman said. "I think the thing that kept me there the longest was that Jack really fostered a sense of family, that this wasn't just a bar business -- it was an entertainment business.
"He'd always remind us that people could go buy a six-pack for the price of one drink, so we always tried to keep the (customers) entertained. The camaraderie was fantastic."
Law gets philosophical when asked about his management practices at the club.
"I wish I could say I was really bright and had this grand plan ... but all I can say is that things evolved the way they should have happened. You gotta leave it to the universe."
WEDNESDAY'S pre-Thanksgiving party is definitely more reunion bash than memorial service.
"Originally, it was conceived as like a wake," Hansen said. "It was supposed to happen on or around the one-year anniversary of the shutdown."
Call it coincidence or call it fate, but scheduling conflicts and other obligations stalled Law, Hansen and Matty Hazelgrove for more than six months. Now the event will take place during the same month the Wave originally opened for business.
"We realized that we've lost touch with people ... not just the staff, but the customers," said Hansen. "You wonder what's going on with those people, too. I'm really looking forward to this party, just to see everybody and catch up."
Wave favorite RAIL will reunite for the first time in three years to perform next week, with former Wave resident DJs KSM, racerX and Byron the Fur joining forces once again to keep people dancing until 4 a.m. Familiar faces should also be recognizable at the door and on the go-go stages that will be set up inside Senor Frog's.
Veronica Nederhouser and Elaine Codilla, two regulars at the Wave's front door toward the end, will be there. Former Wave bartender Heather Colletto is now part of the staff at Senor Frog's, as is former Wave security staff member Cris Perez. Other longtime Wave employees, including Ivan John, Steve Mason and Claire Gelvin, have agreed to attend as well.
"Everybody that worked at the Wave, they also went there at night and enjoyed themselves on their time off, including me," Law said. "I think that says a lot.
"And I do miss the customers. (But) I've lived and worked in Waikiki since 1966, so I also know that change is something that I have to accept."