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Disco fever rising
O-Lounge hostsTau's Haus Disco Extravaganza
When: 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: O-Lounge, 1349 Kapiolani Blvd. (formerly China House restaurant)
Tickets: $20 in advance; $25 with valet including tip; $30 at door; and $150 for VIP package
Call: 227-7718 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Espiritu wants to inject the over-the-top aura of the disco era into a party the dance troupe is hosting Saturday as a fund-raiser for its 10th anniversary next year. "Tau's Haus Disco Extravaganza" will mix '70s and '80s music and dancing, topped with a fashion show of designs by Betsey Johnson.
"I'm about ti-leaf skirts with combat boots. Betsey is right up that alley," Espiritu said. "And Hawaii is a grass-roots, cosmopolitan/metropolitan place. Tau Dance represents both of those sides."
The company's 10th anniversary gives them the opportunity to look back at the "pieces of who and what we are," said Espiritu. While the company is best known for modern dance productions with Pacific-Asian themes, this time Espiritu's drawing inspiration from the glitzy days of disco, when he was a student at the School of American Ballet by day and a club kid by night.
Even then, he planned to return to Hawaii to start a dance troupe in a place he refers to as "a special pearl in the middle of the Pacific." But in case he ever forgets the feeling of those good ol' days in New York, he has the journals of his youth. He used his old notes, "his homework," to capture the spirit of the disco days.
Espiritu casually speaks of the days he spent rubbing elbows with other club kids who would later become stars, like Grace Jones and Madonna.
Expect a little punk and a little New Wave music, too, as dancers, "socialites," club kids, models, and a roller skater mix it up in the club.
The fashion show promises feminine yet eclectic pieces, including six designs that haven't been shown on the runway yet.
Espiritu said that while he never met Johnson, they knew some of the same people. When she opened her store at the Ala Moana Center, he sent her flowers and hoped for the opportunity to work with her in the future. The big-hearted and effervescent designer was happy to help out.
He welcomes others to get into the spirit of the disco era by dressing the part.
"When people ask where to get authentic clothing from the '70s, I tell them to head over to Goodwill or Savers. That's where the clothing is."
So wear those elevator shoes and silky shirts to the party, and don't worry about feeling lost if you weren't even born at the time.
"Disco is approachable," said Espiritu. "It's a form of social dancing, and social dances are indicative of what people were about at a certain time. Disco, with the dress and attitude, affected people.
"I'm still as crazy and committed as ever, still inspired just as much ... I'm more focused now but I haven't forgotten how to laugh."