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Hawaiian Hula Dance & Dress

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

When was the last time you saw a true Hawaiian Hula Dance? The grace, poise and beauty reflected in the dancer's movements are mesmerizing, even hypnotizing. The music fills the air with a beat that the heart syncs into the rhythm with the drums, music and song. Add a beautiful cultural skirt, dress and / or accessories and you have the perfect Dancer showing their beloved art of Hula.

Behind what the the audience simply sees as a dance, they may not see the hours, blood, sweat, and tears a dancer may have spent or shed in order to learn the dance. No. Not just learn the dance, but to understand the meaning OF the dance. The meaning of the movements, the words of the song, the beat, the chant. The dance is not simply what they do. The dance is a part of WHO THEY ARE. It represents their culture, their family, their life.

This. My friends. Is HULA.

It is something to be respected, loved, and honored. One does not simply throw on a hula dress and "dance the hula", having never learned, having never appropriately studied the hula, and the meaning of hula. Hula is learned in the Heart. It starts in the heart. And it is shared, and spread from one heart to one heart.

And so I begin. A word of caution, as I introduce the beautiful Hula clothing. These articles of clothing are to be worn while either practicing, or performing a Hula Dance. These clothes are not intended for the "lame man" (or woman) to wear willy-nilly, but to be worn with respect, honor, love, and always at the appropriate time and event.

The Pa'u Skirt

The Pa'u Skirt is worn while participating in dancing The Hula. It is a skirt of several yards of fabric of one single cut. It is then gathered in multiple rows of elastic at the waist. The many yards of fabric allows the dancer free movement of their legs without fabric restriction. These skirts can be made by the dancer themselves, or may be from their halau, or dance school. It is not ever appropriate for a pa'u skirt to be worn outside of dancing or performing the Hula.

  • Read Kumu's Korner on the Pa'u Skirt for more about this traditional piece of clothing.

The Malo

The Malo, or loincloth, is typically worn by men while dancing the Hula. Men may also wear a Pa'u' skirt, or even trousers, as I have read on some other websites. The Malo starts as a single strip of fabric, 3 yards, and is wrapped around the hips and loins and tied in the back.

  • Check out this YouTube link to learn one way in how to tie a Malo. (Aloha Authentic)

Additional Informative links

Learn more about the Hula and its Costumes:

  • Watch this YouTube link to see a brief video on the beauty and history of the Hula. (KQED Arts)

  • Check out what Hawaii Luau Company shares on their page about Traditional Hula Dress and Costumes. (Hawaii Luau Company)

Instructional How-To-Make:

  • Kumu's Korner on Real Hula gives fantastic instruction on how to make a pa'u skirt. (Real Hula)

  • Casa Bouquet also offers a tutorial on making a pa'u skirt. (Casa Bouquet)

Fabric for pa'u skirts:

Aloha Outlet carries beautiful Hawaiian print fabrics. Order a sample set of Hawaiian Print Fabrics straight from Hawaii! (Affiliate link, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

  • Check out what Etsy has for fabric for pa'u skirts, too!

Off-The-Rack Pa'u Skirts:

Aloha Hula Supply carries a nice stock of skirts

Aloha Outlet also has a wide selection of options

Check out Aloha Outlet's selection of beautiful Pa'u Skirts on Amazon. These two are a couple of my favorite prints!

(Affiliate link, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

An opinion of Cultural Appropriation:

  • Read This about Cultural Appropriation on the Hula Costume and Dress. (Yahoo BuzzFeed)

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