Whatever Happened To Social Clubs?

Club Card Collage


MLC reader – James Higa, DDS – sent me the following email:




I was in a social club in the 1975-1976 time period.  I went to UH then to dental school.  When I returned to Hawaii in 1985 and asked my high school aged patients what social club they belonged to, they had no idea what social clubs were.  I was so shocked to find out that something so prevalent disappeared so quickly.  Do you know why social clubs ceased to exist?  Did something happen to stop social clubs?  Haven’t found anyone who knows.  I thought you’d be a good resource.  Thanks.  I was referred to your blog by a friend.




James Higa


Follow up email:
I talk about social clubs with my patients and reminisce quite often.  It was a fun and innocent time.  Car washes and picnics were fun also.  Hope someone knows how social clubs went away.  Maybe it just faded away due to diminishing interest?  It’s just hard to believe that something so wide spread would end so abruptly.


Socials Car Wash


With James’ permission, I want to throw this question out there to all the MLCers.


I too wondered what happened to social clubs.  It couldn’t have been because of social media as the Internet and Facebook and chat rooms and the like weren’t invented yet.  But social clubs were such a good thing!  It was a good way to meet people from other schools, enjoy outings, network, and even find a girlfriend or boyfriend.  In fact, I wonder how many baby boomers out there met their spouse from a social.  I know at least 2 of our club members did.


Looking back, in the 60’s – social clubs were very organized, either as a club under the school or the YMCA.  Then later in the 70’s – although a lot of clubs were still under schools and the Y, there were “independent” clubs – less structured clubs.  Our club – Pacific Vibrations – was an independent club.  But we were well behaved – even though we didn’t have permanent Advisers.  We had respect for the other clubs and because none of us had a nice house to hold socials, we relied on club’s reputation.  Having “a good rep” was important – otherwise word gets around and your club doesn’t get invited to socials.


Hmm, it just dawned on me – maybe it was the less structured “independent” clubs that caused the demise of social clubs.  I mean, the clubs under the schools or the YMCA had certain guidelines to follow.  And if they didn’t they could be shut down.  So they behaved themselves.  But the independent clubs could show up drunk or stoned (and some did) without any consequences – except having a “bad rep”.  But that’s just one theory.


Someone told me that maybe it had to do with liability.  If someone got hurt at a social – like getting hit too hard during the newspaper game, or tripping when dancing with the broomstick – they could sue the homeowners.  But I find that very unlikely.


It seems that social clubs died around the early 80’s.  What happened.  Did the fad just run it’s course?  Did guys and girls get tired of meeting each other?  I doubt it.  Did music change so much that dancing at socials became boring?  I don’t think so.  Did the malls start closing later so guys and girls could meet at malls instead?  I can’t see that happening.


I know that in the early 80’s – video games became popular.  Pool halls and theaters were being converted to game parlors.  But I don’t think that would put an end to teenagers wanting to meet the opposite sex.  After all, it was just video games.


So like James, I too am perplexed as to why did social clubs die.  It was such a good thing!  Any theories out there?


* Thanks for the blog topic, James Higa, DDS.


Socials Slow Dancing

36 Responses to “Whatever Happened To Social Clubs?”

  1. Will says:

    My guess is that Social Clubs probably started to decline when they took the town public schools out of the ILH followed by the closing of the Honolulu stadium. I would say these two thing tore some of the common fabric that bound kids from different schools.
    Also the loss of innocence, With sex becoming real, you’re less likely to make out with a random because it would lead to something more serious that you really weren’t prepared to deal with.
    Most importantly towards the end they were viewed as uncool, and there was a lot of peer pressure discouraging you to be type casted as a “Dexter” or “Charlene”.

    I graduated in 1980 and could see when they were strong and when they weren’t by looking 6 years in either direction.

  2. Glenn says:

    Oh dang I forgot I am using my wife’s or what is this place using? Google? Well that’s obvious not me in the picture haha. Apologies

  3. Glenn says:

    Hey all,

    This may be one long a** post so pardon moi. I usually hardly come online but have a cold etc. So what the heck..

    Moanulua High we were probably in the last Gen of Social Clubs from 81-85 or so. I came up with our name “Why Not” I remember we posted the cards at Ritz Ala Moana. Funny this site or blog should come up as I just thought of it today.

    I don’t know anyone here so sorry if I don’t use full names etc. But we had Socials with gals from McKinley, Roosevelt, Punaho, Pearl City, Aiea and few others but cannot remember where or any of the clubs names as I left Hawaii 20+yrs ago have no joke have not been back since, had falling out with parents and part of the family. I know live in the Southwest as a Fed Leo/Pilot also in the US Army reserves I fly the UH60 Helicopter, btw Also met my wife at one of these Socials she is a MD now and we have 3 daughters.

    I only have contact with one friend from my social on FB which I hardly ever visit as so busy. Maybe if I get to know some of you more I or we can see if we have any mutual contacts etc. Anyways I remember these parties pretty well. I know there were Advisors mainly older siblings or friends. We always met up with the other club at either Ala Moana for the “townies” and Pearl City Zippys or Kahala etc for the others I forgot most of the lingo haha.

    But I remember again what activity’s we did (This is gonna make some laugh) like meet and greet, Air-Band (tho I did play real Elec Guitar and still do), dancing, eating and for the funny stuff. I know most of you are way older than me but maybe you guys will remember some. But we did the “Love Statue Game” (My fav btw hehe), Truth or Dare, Spin the Bottle and help me out guys but what other games were there? I do remember each club knew em all.

    I remember so Socials were a blast but one was a disaster it was some gals from a Pvt school and was held in Kahala is some Apt building next to Byrons Drive in or the Kahala haunted drive in. Anyway the girls were so “stuck up” we actually just sat in 2 groups and just pure silence it was so weird. I just said aloud its obvious no one wants to be here and we left with the food as it was custom for the dudes to bring the eats.

    But that was our or my only bad experience out of maybe 15 of em some gals we saw multiple times and became friends, we would cruise St Louis heights, Diamond head, Mcully Zippy’s and or one of our homes. Gotta say this one club has some really wild girls and no kidding they made out with some of us kinda strange I know but it happened. So 2 weird experiences, tons of fun and a family is what I got out of the social club scene. Too bad it fell out of fad or style and this very lame and cold social media crap took over.

    So again pardon for the long winded comment. When I have the time it would be fun to talk shop about the old days in Hawaii with ya all.

    Stay safe.

  4. Rodney says:

    @Remin – Welcome and thank you for posting!

  5. Remin says:

    Social clubs. I was in two: Sound Visions and Checkin’ It Out. After graduating in ’79 I went to UH and joined a frat. Then in 1981 my younger cousin asked me and my friend to be their Advisors. Then when she graduated, I lost all touch with the haps of social clubs. When I was in high school we were an independent club and we could care less about our rep. My opinion on why they vanished: it was a fad, albeit a long one.

  6. A.T. says:

    If you ask me I think it was disco. It was that “See and be Seen” attitude. You could get all dressed up, drink alcohol, do drugs and say look at me I’m cool. If you scored at the end of the night you could have a snack/meal at Zippy’s or Likelike with someone you met at the club. Then again if you struck out you would be more determined to go out again the following week.

    For me I loved to go out and listen to the many acoustic bands playing around the island, drink some beer and eat ono pupus.

    Your right Rodney the 70’s was the best time to be a kid/teen growing up.

  7. Rodney says:

    @James Higa – Welcome to the blog and thank you for the blog topic! Such great memories. Socials were such a good thing. I’m just glad that we were able to experience it. I still believe that the 70’s was the best decade.

  8. James Higa says:

    Today I asked a patient of mine about the demise of Social Clubs and she said that for her club, it was getting hard to get a place(YMCA, etc.) to have the socials(Liability?); so that may be a reason. She was a Kaimuki 1979 grad. Seems like Social Clubs died somewhere between 1980 to 1983 or 1984.

  9. HbH says:


    Mahalo uncle but i don’t believe its that building, i really remember a single door from the sidewalk, not an open bay. But thanks for your effort. I know one thing im going to do when i come back to oahu to visit is, im going to just take walks down the streets and neighborhoods of honolulu i remembered and see places like the pangoda hotel with its koi fish ponds and pathways which i spend alot of time as a kid enjoying. Ok back on topic. Mahalo guys

  10. Mark'75 says:

    @HbH: In the early ’80s, there was an arcade room near Waikiki Sizzlers. It was in a stall adjacent to Magoo’s Pizza. Do a google map search for 1980 Kalakaua Avenue. The building is still there at the corner of Kalakaua/Keoniana. On the ground floor there are three stalls, just like back then. The arcade room was (I believe) in the middle stall. Kuhio Theater was just 3 blocks away. This might be the place you remember. The building did not look as nice as it does now. LOL

  11. HbH says:

    @Rodney,Claire,Mark Shelby,adobo

    The movie theater was called the Kewalo and its on 642 Cooke st in kaka’ako. In mid 70s it was converted to a movie storage location for consolidated theaters company on Oahu. It may have been possible that some space may have been an arcade at one time?


    Yes for some reason i always think waikiki as the area really close to the beach. But i do remember the sizzlers on kalakaua ave by ala moana, ala wai st and mccully street. I believe at one time sizzlers had six locations.


    Mahalo for your time and effort. I may have just scrambled some of my memories thats all?

  12. hydroman72 says:

    Good question. Can’t say why social clubs disappeared. Was it around the late 70’s and early 80’s, a lot of gangs seemed to be popping up in the news? Can’t really remember, but I joking said ” Gangs replaced social clubs”.

    Like everyone said above, it was a good way to girls/guys from other schools. And all those crazy games they played to break the ice. Who thought of these games? (another subject?)

  13. adobo says:

    @HbH: The picture of the old movie theatre is a building on the corner of Queen and Cooke, there’s a dive shop tour business there now. It’s kitty corner to Queen’s Barbeque and near Tsukenjo’s. I think Sizzler’s had a Kalihi location on makai side Dillingham and another location near the airport. There’s another picture on the MLC old theatre post of a old theatre that’s on North King street. Was this a hole in the wall type arcade?

  14. Mark Shelby says:

    I just did a search for Sizzler Waikiki and this address showed up. It seems familiar.—waikiki-11657391.html

    Not sure if it’s current or still there. I don’t remember a sizzler in the building near Lewers St. with the waterfalls.

    When I was a teen early 1970’s The Sizzler was one of our favorite places to go after church on Sunday’s. We used to always go to the one out by the airport. Then later they built one out in front of our Wigwam parking lot on Dillingham Blvd.

    In the 1980’s while working at The Marsh Company Home Furnishings (same parking lot) , I was so thankful I could walk just 100 yards from our store for a good fun meal at Sizzlers!

    I always loved the huge juicy half pound burger! And sometimes steak and eggs etc. Good Black coffee! And the endless salad bar, and load up with hard boiled eggs on top!

  15. HbH says:


    Thats the problem if i knew which sizzlers it was i would know the location of the arcade. I just remember sizzlers was down the street or close proximate from it. I remember the arcade had about 30 games of space invaders lined up in rows in one room. But the front of the arcade looks alot like the picture in my last post. Its possible i maybe confused or not remembering right? So i was asking which movie theater was that in the picture? It says kaka’ako? It looks familiar but can’t remember the name. I know im going to feel dumb when you of someone gives me an answer. Im also sorry to hijack the thread it was driving me popule.

  16. Claire says:

    The “theater” building is on Queen and Cooke street.

  17. Rodney says:

    @HbH – Which Sizzlers?

  18. HbH says:


    Mahalo, but no uncle it was on ground floor and its was old building and all it had was space invaders games. It wasn’t waikiki. The building looks like one movie theater in your old movie theaters thread but the title when pulling up picture was “kaka’ako1 small”?

    I know im prob going to hit myself on the head for forgeting and feel like a lolo Malihini for forgetting.

  19. Rodney says:

    @HbH – Sizzler Waikiki? Maybe the Mitsukoshi building on Kalakaua and Beachwalk. It was on the 3rd or 4th floor or something like that. The building is shape like a piano (to me) and it had water running down the sides of the glass on the ground floor stores. Critics said it reminded them of a urinal.

  20. HbH says:

    O.T- I was talking with a client of mine the other day who is also MLC Hawaii. We were talking about what life was like as a keiki in Oahu in the 70s. It was great. But i kept having this memory of when space invaders first came out and one arcade full of just that game down the street or in the area of sizzlers. Today i can’t remember the street or which area of honolulu it was in. But i can still remember the arcade and what it looked like etc. Strange huh? Does anyone know? Your effort and time would be appreciated. Mahalo

  21. 4G says:

    OT – I was really saddened to hear of the loss of Glenn Frey earlier this week. RIP.

    One of many classics – “Hotel California”, The Eagles:

  22. Seawalker says:

    Hey, aren’t the biker clubs like the Mongols and Hell’s Angels something like the social clubs? From what I saw on TV, it was a privilege to be invited to one of these groupies. At U.H., had these frats and sororities that did the pledges, rushes, and the whole nine yards. Now see the youth groups at church doing the same things as the social clubs of yesterday. Good for them. To see them all doing service projects and to see them get all excited over the dances and socials is what it’s all about. Still have faith in the next generation.

  23. HbH says:

    Yeah when I was in highschool I never heard of social clubs but we did have school clubs. Those being born in the early 70s we experienced the hippy, disco and then the yuppie eras. But I can not say why social clubs are gone or just the fact that the simpler and more laid backtimes of Oahulife is gone. I believe alot of different good experiences are really gone today.

  24. M says:

    Good morning MLCers!
    I was in one 69-71 under the Central YMCA. We were invited a lot by other high school girl social clubs even a year after we graduated. Those were the fun days.

  25. dihudfan says:

    belonged to one FHS/YMCA… had lots of functions, met a lot of girls from other schools… some community work, some socials, midnite picnics, got invited to girls club functions, made a lot of friends from other schools that I might have nevah have met other wise… some work but a lot of fun… good old days…

  26. Mark Shelby says:

    I was never fully aware of social clubs. I went to “The Academy” from 6th grade to 10th, a private school in Aina Hina across from McDonalds on the ocean side. I guess that was a really small sphere of reality. Then I went to McKinley for 11th and 12th grade. I kind of started hearing people talk about social clubs while at McKinley, but I never had a personal experience. And I was never invited to one.

    I think I focused more on my Church and our high school Sunday school group. My Dad was the high school Sunday school teacher at Honolulu First Church of the Nazarene on Judd Street, and we always planned fun events. So I guess that was my kind of social. A church social of teens almost every single weekend!

    And a fun group memory….

    One really fun thing we did every Easter. My Dad would do a “Sunrise Service” on the ocean cliffs just past Haunama Bay and before the Blow Hole. I remember hiking the cliffs with my Dad when he first had this idea, to find the perfect spot.

    We would all show up in the dark just before sunrise, and hike down toward the water. And we had the perfect spot to watch the sunrise that was like a mini amphitheater. As the sun came up over Molokai.

    No dancing for us Nazarenes in the 1970’s. No can, or you got lickins!……hehe

  27. Seawalker says:

    Sorry @Rod, in the warped mind of a townie, Kailua is considered the sticks. Booneysville at the very best. Keep the country, country! LOL

    The end of social clubs can be attributed to many things. Think back to the ’80s. First there was aids. Next, came the explosion of Silicon Valley. Then Michael Chang won the French Open beating Ivan Lendl in the semifinals and Stephan Edberg in the finals. Another thing that might be it is the explosion of youth groups at church. It’s the same principal, but just a shift of where kids wanted to hang out.

    In the ’60s and ’70s, it was a generation of wanting a sense of belonging. Baby boomers and the tail-end of that generation were starting to come of age and becoming teenagers. It was also the end of the Vietnam War. If you recall, the early 70’s was a period of ‘make love, not war’ gyration. Hippies were groupies. Hence, you wanted to belong to a group that you deemed cool.

    That’s why there was so many youths with long hair back then. You wanted to be identified as a hippie. You wanted to stick out. You also wanted to be identified to a certain social group. The coming and going of the disco era would sway some to believe that it pushed out social groups in general. Why, with the ending of one thing, another cool identity factor arises.

    Other than the reasons listed above, I don’t have a clue. LOL

  28. Snow says:

    I was in a social club from 1978-1980. We had a lot of socials but we did not have many with guys younger than us. Not sure if it was because there were not that many clubs or because we did not want to rob the cradle! 😉 I do recall asking my friend’s younger sister if she wanted to start a club but she was decidedly disinterested. Hmm, so much for us being advisors! Haha! I was rather sad when I heard the clubs were dying out – it had been a lot of fun for me and my friends!

  29. Mark'75 says:

    Just two of our club members went to Kaimuki, the rest went to Kalani. Along with socials, we had a sister club from Kalani. Campouts, fundraisers, parties, or just hanging out with our sister club was great. Fun times.

  30. Mark'75 says:

    I think it’s a generational thing. Like we were at the tail end of the baby boomer generation, we were at the tail end of the social club thing. I believe that some who were in social clubs in the mid ’60’s became parents around 1970 and those kids became teenagers in the early ’80’s. Certainly, they wouldn’t want to do things their parents did! LOL
    I was coaching at my high school through the late ’80’s and recall asking kids about social clubs. All I got was a “Bwahahaha! What’s that?!”

  31. 4G says:

    Oh – and provisional driver’s licenses make it problematic for driving unsupervised at night until, what – 18? Bummers . . . . 😉

  32. 4G says:

    Interesting question that I don’t have the answer to. LOL.

    As of the early 1980’s I know that there were still at least some socials. I was a club advisor then for a female social club. Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel, eh? 😉 Socials seemed to be fading in that time frame.

    I don’t know that there is any one specific thing that caused the demise of social clubs. I’m thinking that it was probably due to a variety of factors.

    To my mind, one big factor figuring into all of this is the changing dynamic in parental/offspring relations. Youth today do not seem to exhibit the same “radicalism” and desire for independence from their parents that I recall growing up. I read somewhere recently that the youth coming of age today no longer have a strong desire to have their own car. WWD? LOL.

    Another example of this is Project Grad – man, you would not have caught me dead at one of those . . . .

  33. walter says:

    No social clubs just the pakalolo parking lot for me.

  34. Rodney says:

    Although I lived in Kailua – I was a townie. LOL

  35. KAN says:

    By the time I grad (early 80s) not only was I not in a social club, I don’t think I knew anyone who was. But here are my disclaimers: (1) I was/am a geek, (2) I was in a lot of school clubs, and (3) I was in the “country,” (yeah, I know, I know, Rodney was in Kailua, which some people think is country), so who knows what they did in town.

  36. ankleByters says:

    I was in one from ’69-’71: Mixed Emotions . Maybe it was all of those “clubs” that opened up that played live music where you could meet up?

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