Hui Alu Shinenkai, 2009!

We got to the Kauai Veteran's Hall at 11:00, and peeked in at the crowded dining hall. The round tables, decorated with giant pomelos and mini snickers bars, were already mostly filled up. The band was doing sound checks on a low stage, and a group of ladies were taking registration fees and doing the sign-in by the door.
We hovered and hesitated outside the door. Matt looked for a familiar face, and hemmed and hawed-- should we go in? Should we pay $20 a piece for a buffet lunch? Or should we join the society?
I handed him the checkbook and took Rosie to run around outside, and left Matt to decide whether he wanted to go to this Hawaii United Okinawa Association annual New Years Meeting.
He's a quarter Okinawan, Rosie's an eighth. I'm none Okinawan. I figured I'd leave it up to him to define his ethnicity as he pleases.
When an acquaintance of Matt's from work drove up, we were finally swept in. I had to laugh-- in a room with 200 people in it, all were Okinawan Japanese. Matt was the only mixed person, and I was the only white person. And as I walked past the tables with my blazingly blond toddler, I recieved several frank open-mouthed stares.
Matt's work friend led us to his table-- right at the front. In order for the 200 venerable Ryukyuans in the room to see the shamisen and taiko performance, they had to look through my blond head. I tried to shrink down in my chair. The other couple at the table leaned to me and said, "Are you, um, visiting?"
The drummers started-- 5 teenagers in colorful head scarves twirling heavy drums and dancing to Okinawan folk songs. Rosie was alarmed, so I had to stand up, excuse my way through the crowd. Then when the next band started, playing Okinawan and Hawaiian songs with a disco twist.
Rosie is a dancing queen. Rosie ran to the front of the stage and danced. She was very cute and funny, shaking her butt and striking poses.
We ateKalua pig and Oden and shoyu chicken, listened to the music, Rosie endured a microsecond of honoring the issei kupunas, and I clambered over everyone again and let her run around on the sidewalk outside and hunt ladybugs. A grandkid came out and played ukulele for us-- he won third place yesterday at the Waimea Days with a splashy Ohta-San piece. Rosie sang, "My dog has fleas!" for him.
When it ended, everybody said how cute and funny Rosie's dancing was. One aunty laughed and said, "aren't you worried she's going to go back to Okinawa?? HAHAHA!!!" I didn't get the joke.

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