Hawaii inaugural ball says ‘aloha’ to new faces

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A number of attendees at the event wore leis while chowing on Hawaiian-style barbecue — chefs prepared a pig that had been roasting for 10 hours — and sushi.

The mood was light and mellow.

"Well tonight's a party, so not very many particularly substantive questions," Schatz said when asked by ITK what he had been discussing with party-goers.

The music matched the tone of the evening. Dancers did the hula to Hawaiian songs played on the ukelele and guitar by Mel Amina, one of the original members of the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau. Other performers included Nathan Aweau, recipient of a number of Na Hoku Hanohano awards, Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom, recipient of five Grammy nominations, and Sean Na'auao, winner of the Na Hoku Hanohano award.

Julie Colesan, who danced the hula auana on stage, said that this year's ball lacked the excitement of an appearance from President Obama.

"Four years ago, I went to another one like this and it was very exciting because it was the first time Barack Obama was inaugurated and so everybody was always like looking at the doors and waiting for him to come in," Colesan said.

But Colesan noted the fact that Obama wouldn't show up also let attendees relax.

"And that's why it's more like, just 'OK, we can just relax, we can sing, we can dance, we can have just like a fun time,'" Colesan said.