“What’s the Smith’s Family Luau phone number? I’m gonna get me a job!” – Paul, after learning how to hula. His hips don’t lie.

As a former dancer, I was excited to see, “Hula Lessons with Daphne” on our schedule for Habitat for Humanity. Learning how to hula in Hawaii was something I had thought about doing when I signed up for the trip. I thought it was gonna be difficult to get this into my schedule, but luckily Habitat scheduled it for all of us!The best part was? We had the class right in front of the beach before sunset! Even better? Daphne allowed us to drink while we were learning! …and she happily drank along with us.

So, let me tell you how amazing this woman is…

She started the class with a history lesson about hula, and the story of the dance that we were learning. I knew that she was gonna be amazing when she called our names to line us up for class after hearing each of our 15 names only once! I was astonished! She then taught us that the word “aloha” has root words. “Alo” means a person’s presence, and “ha” means their breath. Her secret to learning names is to learn a person’s “alo”.

Not only was she our instructor, she also served as our music, playing an instrument and singing while we danced. I enjoyed plenty of laughs, and she was very patient with all of us. When the class finished and the sun set, she went off swimming in the beach, saying that this was her favorite part of the day to swim. Some people may start their day off with a run, but Daphne says that she starts her days off with a swim! She definitely doesn’t take living next to the beach for granted.

During random conversations, she tells us that she wears many hats. She mentioned that she is a midwife, an officiant for weddings, a ballet dancer, a flamenco dancer, and she teaches kids. Who knows what else she does? Whatever it is, she continued to amaze me. I didn’t just learn how to hula; I learned about the history of hula in Hawaii, I learned what certain Hawaiian words mean, and I learned that your life is as colorful as you can make it.

Meeting locals has got to be one of my favorite things about traveling. It adds to the experience.

Have you ever learned a dance at the country it is famous for? Please share!

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