If it’s Friday on Maui, the dance floor at Moose’s Lahaina is NOT the place to be (unless you’re over 40)

Just in time for making weekend plans, here’s my synopsis of Maui’s number one last resort hotspot.

Moose McGillycuddy’s sets the benchmark for bars on Maui. Having been a sort of panoptic presence on the north part of Front Street Lahaina since 1983, Moose McGillycuddy’s is a time-tested landmark known for its cheap, decent eats, an early bird breakfast and dinner that help offset the cost of getting to and staying in Hawaii, and its relaxed, not quite down-to-earth atmosphere. I’m not sure what exactly one is to expect from “going out on Maui,” but the restaurant/bar lives up to just that after hearing the locally produced commercials Maui’s radio stations.

Don’t get my wrong, I appreciate Moose’s mastery of all that is kitsch. Alone, it gets mildly annoying and the commercials are that bad. That is the material that sets the bar for going out in Maui and it is also what I had to deal with one recent Friday night.

If there is one word to describe that experience it is not what you are probably thinking right now. Everything mentioned actually could actually be fodder for a slightly tacky, reasonably fun joint. Instead of going that route, it’s as if all that was meant for good revolted and created a beast. And that beast is dangerous.

Upon entering the establishment, you might think it would be a good idea to grab a seat while getting warmed up for the dance floor. While Moose’s brags about their eats, don’t expect any after dinner is over  — no pub fare, no french fries, nothing. The group I with had a little run in with the waitress when it came to splitting the tab. It almost got violent. Just avoid the whole ordeal by spelling out your desires as you order. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re treating the waitstaff like imbeciles. It’s best to take the offensive or else they’ll get you first. Better yet, ignore the servers and head to the bar yourself.

The Friday night DJ is in need of a good scolding. Even nerdy college-age DJs with no sense of rhythm or music who started their business as a way of making ends meat by MCing high school functions did a better job than that guy. Do not play a song from 0:00 until the fade-out. And, no, Snoop Dog should not be trailed by Burning Spear.

The demographics of the patrons is interesting. At worst, it’s downright disturbing. Old and young, tourist and local meet in one unwieldy amalgam as if sat down and lectured to play nice. Here are some people you might meet on the dance floor:

  • The C-walking, Maui Built-wearing braddah. There is only one of them. He tries getting the girls. He never does. He’s creepy.
  • The unstoppable mother-daughter-freak-dancing-duo. They are both drunk. They are always on vacation. They are usually about 30 and 55. They hope the photos don’t follow them home.
  • The Mid-life crisis chap. Local or tourist and comprising a majority of the guys on the floor or hovering nearby. Looking to bring back his youth and rejuvenate (nevermind. I don’t care to go there.), he tries getting women of all shape, size, color, and creed to dance with him as fervently as the mother-daughter-duo. One stipulation: the women must at least 15 years younger.
  • The “I just turned 21” (or at least “my license says I’m 24”) group of girls.Wait. Nothing wrong there, not until you mix them with the the aforementioned man half-way to retirement.
  • The regressive moks and tiddas who swarm the dance floor when the reggae comes on. Four words: Just like high school (assuming you graduated from public school in Hawaii).

Overall, the experience is complicated by the unmet expectations. The commercials on X 92.5 lead the average restuarant-goer there will “always be hotties and occasionally some naughties.” Their words, not mine. But you won’t find them in that half-empty restaurant-turned-club that you heard of and probably read on in Fodors.

Despite the long history of the chain that put Moose’s in both the local folklore and the guidebooks, the restaurant boasts nothing original. Any longtime in Maui should remember the advertisement’s for Blacky’s Bar and remember their claim to the coldest beer in Maui. Hidden away in certain shady corners of the Lahaina Moose’s are posters claiming to serve the coldest beer in the universe. I guess you’ve got to move over, Blacky, the Moose has gone and outdone you. I’m sorry, but that kind of one-upping sounds like a bunch of second grade boys bragging how far high they can kick a ball: “I can kick the ball to the sky.” “Well, I can kick the ball to the moon.” “Oh yeah, I can kick the ball to the universe.” Or if we are talking about the children of Blacky and The Moose: “My dad has the coldest beer in Maui.” “Uh huh, my dad serves the coldest beer in the YOO-NIH-VURSE and Maui’s part of the universe!

Maybe Moose’s needs a better chance. Evidently, it’s Tuesdays at Moose’s when the place really goes off. But what you get when you do a Google search of that phrase is this video as one of the top results.

But my better judgement kicks in and I think my life will be a whole lot better if I stick to watching Tuesday Night Moose Fights on YouTube than venturing back to that dance floor.

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One Response to “If it’s Friday on Maui, the dance floor at Moose’s Lahaina is NOT the place to be (unless you’re over 40)”

  1. Ha ha, classic. I love ittt.

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