It’s dusk. North Shore surfers catch last waves, and beach bums turn in the towel. Instead of heading home, people are heading out, and I wonder: Is there a nightlife on the North Shore?
Flames are burning outside of Jameson’s By the Sea, a reminder of last calls and questions about where thirty-somethings go if they’re in the mood for a seedy bar, a fourth glass of wine or a self-sabotaging shot of whiskey. Palm trees sing lullabies and eyes grow tired. One drink. That’s all. And it’s enough, in a town where men outnumber women 10 to one, and the bar scene typically thins out around 9pm. To create nightlife might disrupt what Haleiwa Town is, and maybe even what it was, once upon a time.
One beer and a late evening slice at Pizza Bob’s turns into a shot of Patron at Breakers, and the laid-back lanai fills with mellow patrons and patient servers all curious about the early morning’s wave report. People are getting drunk, getting high on stories about the rolling sea and what they’ve seen or pretend they’ve seen. They’re making mistakes, good ones, the same ones being made down the street at Luibueno’s.
I won’t call it by its full name. There is fish, yes. There is Mexican flair, yes. There is the distinct impression that what meets the eye is what meets the mouth, but what is impressive is the bar.
The aesthetic is Spanish tapas, the people invited are longing for a drink, loathing to be judged, and looking for a little more than slippahs and board shorts can provide. The rhythm of Mariachi is pulsating, the lighting is dim, and the accents are globally thick. Color is singing. Salt is being licked and limes are squeezed and people stay. They order more drinks and make plans and leave holding hands and swinging their arms into the neon-free sky. Is there a nightlife on the North Shore? The answer is found while sobering up at a nearby pizza truck before heading home. I see Haleiwa Town for what it isn’t. And I smile.