THE NIGHT STUFF
Piranha Room still has bite
By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
By Derek Paiva
It's been a while since The Night Stuff visited Ocean Club's Piranha Room. Three whole years, to be exact. That's a long time in club years, and an excruciatingly long time in club-writer years.
Yet when I told a friend I'd be going back to Piranha for the column, her reply was quick and catty: "At least you'll get to say 'hi' to the same people that were there three years ago," she sneered.
In fact, save for fashion photographer/promoter Russell Tanoue, now a celeb in his own right, who was lavishing attention on his peeps and getting that attention lavished back at him in the VIP section, I barely recognized anyone from that late January night in 2003. Still, the room remained so packed with mid-twenty- and thirtysomething revelers, I'm sure some of those folks were there.
Piranha Room is still co-founder Tanoue's personal BFF party (if you're a Best Friend Forever, lucky you!). A portion of proceeds raised each month goes to Tanoue's Project Shine, which offers free makeovers and photo shoots to people facing life-threatening illnesses or self-esteem issues.
Piranha adopts a theme and live entertainment element each time out. A swimsuit fashion show celebrating a Tanoue-shot spread in a local weekly tabloid was the high point of "Wet!" the night we attended.
Themes past: "Playboy Pajama Party," "Bunny Bash" and "Garden of Eden." You get the picture.
Sure, there was an element of sameness in my Piranha visit. The aim remains to offer its straight-laced, older club-kid clientele as much harmless sauciness as it can stomach. (Ooh! Bikini models! Ooh! Playboy models!) The music mix is still surprise-free mainstream Top 40 hip-hop and R&B.
But really, why quibble? What really mattered was that the, um, kids still seemed to be having genuine fun with it all.
And seeing the unleashed 9-to-5 aloha shirt set kicking out the jams to Usher and Ciara under smoke effects and multicolor club lights always warms my jaded after-hours heart.
The crowd was just as rich with beautiful people as your average Skyline, only with slightly less pretentiousness outside the VIP section. Not-on-the-guest-list hopefuls still waited patiently in line outside.
"We're late tonight," sighed Harlan Morita, of Waikiki, waiting with friends in one of at least three Piranha Room lines 'round midnight. "Can you get us in?"
I should have so much pull.
Reach Derek Paiva at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: Eileen Calibuso was among those attending a recent Piranha Room party. Her name was misspelled in a previous version of this story.