By now you probably already heard Fusion Waikiki has closed its doors for good, however to many folks that were regulars and/or in the industry, it was sudden heartbreaking news that only broke a few days before the end. And news from where else? Other than personal word-of-mouth, on Facebook of course.
Fusion Waikiki, formerly located in the “Penthouse” at 2260 Kuhio Avenue, near Seaside, started way back in 1989, and was home to the longest running female impersonation shows in Hawaii, including the “Paper Doll Review” and “Gender Bender Lip Gloss Review”, while also hosting their infamous “Men of Fusion” male review performances every Friday and Saturday night.
That said, being straight up, Fusion Waikiki was a gay bar at its core. Yet like most gay bars, straight folks such as myself were just as comfortable there. That also said, Fusion Waikiki was a total FREAK SHOW. Whether it was the drag shows, male reviews or the crowd out on the dance floor, high energy, over-the-top antics and often intended and unintended “wardrobe malfunctions” were all part of what set Fusion apart. It was the “not-so-normal” nightlife in Waikiki that made it so memorable. In fact, I used to take folks I knew from out of town to Fusion Waikiki specifically for that purpose: Fusion Waikiki was different than any other club, period. Sure it was raunchy. I mean raunchy in every way imaginable, and use your imagination broadly! And the bathrooms were in serious disrepair. Yet those quirks added to the “romance” of Fusions. Add to that, the fact Fusions was one of very few clubs open until 4am in Waikiki, so it became the place many “crawled” to in the late hours of night to keep the party going.
As for the venue itself, what also made Fusion Waikiki unique was its two-level layout, with the first floor having the main dance floor in the center, flanked by the main bar on the right and another smaller bar in back on the left as you enter, with lounge seating also in the back. On the second level the floor was open in the center over the dance floor below, so you could watch the performances and people dancing from above. Surrounding that open floor to the 1st level was a smaller dance floor to the right looking over Kuhio Avenue, with more lounge seating surrounding that, while on the left of the upper level was another medium-sized full bar and more open table seating.
Ultimately though, it was all about the people who worked there, performed there and frequented Fusions that made it such a memorable institution in Waikiki. An institution that would carry on for 28 years, finally closing its doors this past Sunday, May 7, 2017, due to not being able to negotiate a new lease with the property owner. Which actually isn’t surprising, as like suggested earlier, the venue itself was in serious disrepair, from the restrooms, bar, floors, walls, the air conditioning, furnishing, you name it. It hasn’t been reported what the property owner plans to do with it, but I would imagine they’re going to totally raze that building (which also shares space with “Tsunami’s” bar below) and put up something new. I would.
For lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transexuals, queers and and straights alike, Fusion Waikiki truly was an icon of both the old and new club era in Waikiki, and that “Queen atop Kuhio” will surely be missed. Aloha ‘Oe Fusion Waikiki.
Fusion Waikiki resident DJ and Entertainment Director Dennis Kong
For more information, photos and videos, please visit Fusion Waikiki’s Facebook page here.