Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Dean Okimoto of Nalo Greens fame, classmates and pals at Iolani as well as members of a YMCA social club, get together again to promote the Central Y’s 95th anniversary

Susan Sunderland
Friday - November 23, 2007
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Mayor Hannemann and Iolani pal Dean Okimoto
Mayor Hannemann and Iolani pal Dean Okimoto, above today and at left in their 1972 senior photos; below and on page 30, a sampling of YMCA social club cards

Calling the Sheiks, Easy Riders,Elusive Dreamsand Cherie Amis. It’s party time!

Were you a member of a high school social club popular in the 1960s,‘70s and ‘80s? Did you belong to that social elite of teens who exchanged pastel calling cards as part of networking? This was the way shy private-school guys met cute public-school gals.

If you weren’t “in” a social club back then, you were “out.”

Waimanalo farmer Dean Okimoto was a member of the Sheiks and Easy Riders while at Iolani in the ‘70s. The Sheiks had members from Kaimuki,Iolani and Kalani. Easy Riders took the name of the popular Peter Fonda film of that era - although Okimoto says it was because the members were cool dudes.

MidWeek publisher Ron Nagasawa belonged to The King of Clubs while at Leilehua High School in the ‘70s. He recalls club cards posted on a wall at Kramer’s where guys rented prom gear.

Susan Moriguchi of the Ultimate club at Kalani High kept her collection of cards in a Liberty House box.

These so-called Hi Y clubs originated in 1914 when the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) created programs to help build good moral character and leadership skills among young people.

In Hawaii, interest in the student clubs reached a pinnacle in the dance-crazy era of rock ‘n’ roll and discos. Akin to college fraternities and sororities, pledging membership to a club was serious business. It called for a commitment of after-school time to attend meetings, devoting weekends to community service and upholding the club’s reputation through a positive image on campus.

It was character-building and serious social responsibility. But mostly, it was fun.

Well, those happy days are here again.

In commemoration of Central YMCA’s 95th anniversary, a gala “Reunion of Hawaii’s High School Social Clubs” is taking place Saturday, Nov. 24, 5:30-11:30 p.m., at the Sheraton Waikiki. Besides a lot of reminiscing, there’ll be a buffet dinner and dancing to the music of Asian Blend.

As disco lights flash overhead and the music begins - Do the Hustle - a nostalgic and colorful part of local culture will come to life.

Okimoto and fellow Iolani grad, Mayor Mufi Hannemann, are honorary chairs of the Central YMCA event. Expect to see both at the reunion, and perhaps they’ll persuade Hizzoner to sing a tune from the swinging ‘70s.

Hannemann is a longtime supporter of YMCA activities. He uses the Central Y facilities for weekly stress relief at the racquetball courts.

A number of prominent community leaders have found a recreational “home” at the Y. Gov. Linda Lingle gets her exercise by swimming laps at the Nuuanu YMCA pool.

And who hasn’t in their youth taken a craft or dance class at the Y, where one joins a group with common interests? YMCAs have long provided safe havens from the rigors of daily life, integrated with sociability and character-building.

Maile Kanemaru,executive director of the Central YMCA on Atkinson Drive, started working with the organization as a youth program director. She recalls being involved in a flurry of club activities,including service projects,song fests, car washes and dances.

But she reveals these projects were all part of leadership training.

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