The band was in-between songs and there were still tables open when I walked in to the Dragon Upstairs last Saturday, just behind a group of retiree-aged hipsters. “C’mon in,” boomed a voice from a dimly-lit corner; the band gestured for us to do the same. I gamely follow a white-haired man in a pin-stripped fedora into the intimate, match-box sized club.
Ideas from the class reading bopped around inside my head:*
Stressing and pressurizing the local as a site of “critical resistance” posits a more dynamic way of imagining the relationship of a region, nation, and globe in which difference is not subsumed nor reified but circulated and affirmed” (Wilson 14).
I side-stepped the bell of a trumpet held close and low, nodding to the band while snaking past the potentially expectoration-flecked front line, to the raised seating area where Rowen, Miki and Hank sat holding court at the best table in the house.
It was only the second time I’d met Hank, the owner of both the Dragon Upstairs and Hank’s Cafe, another live music venue downstairs in the same Nuuanu Street building. Last year was the first time we’d met, I’d interviewed him for an article for Hawaii Luxury magazine. He’d impressed me with his charisma and passion for music. I’d sat at the bar drinking chardonnay, asking questions and scribbling notes for my story. Eventually he leaned in and spelled it out: “I want Hawaiian jazz.”