'Hawaiian' Dance Entertainment in post-War Australia


  • Nikki Bambrick




Hula Dancing, American entertainment industry, cultural purity


This article documents the practice and development of hula dancing in Australia from the l950s-l970s. It analyses the way in which the local entertainment industry adopted aspects of a cultural form which originated within indigenous Hawaiian culture and was subsequently mediated, modified and represented by the American entertainment industry. Viewed in this way, Australian hula was, at least, a secondary derivative form, twice removed from any absolute 'point of origin'. Yet, as this article will attempt to argue, the Australian experience of live hula performance was not simply one of pale and waning imitation but rather an example of how the process of appropriation can produce its own vibrant and distinctive practices. The history of Australian hula, as we shall argue, is better viewed in the light of the perpetual flux of all cultural forms than through tenuous appeals to authenticity or cultural purity.


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Coyle, I. & Coyle, R. (forthcoming, 1995) 'Aloha Australia - Hawaiian Music in Australia', Perfect Beat v2 n2, January

Emerson, NB ( 1909) Unwritten Literature of Hawaii, Washington: Government Printers Office

Johnson, V. (1992) 'BeMyWomanRockand Roll', inHayward,P. (ed)FromPoptoPunk to Postmodemism, Sydney: Allen and Unwin

Kanahele, G. (1978) 'Hula', in Kanahele, G (ed) Hawai'ian Music and Musicians Honolulu: University of Hawai'i

Mitchell, T (1992) 'World Music, Indigenous Music and Music Television in Australia', Perfect Beat vi nl. July



How to Cite

Bambrick, N. (2015). EXOTIC HULA: ’Hawaiian’ Dance Entertainment in post-War Australia. Perfect Beat, 2(1), 68–87. https://doi.org/10.1558/prbt.v2i1.28802




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