Ong King Art Center, a place where the wild things are


By Sierra Mendiola, Staff Writer

“Ong” is the sound a gong makes, and “King” is the sound a triangle makes. Ong King is an arts center that is just as unique as its name.

Located in the heart of Chinatown on King Street, a hole-in-the-wall art center opens many doors for all sorts of creative artists. It is a place where people can express themselves through whatever sort of artistry they choose.

Visitors walk up a flight of stairs to get to the spacious room and can continue back to a series of outdoor seating areas.

With the graffiti’d walls and random props (like wooden drums, a wooden rocking horse and hats), the room is dimly lit with hanging strings of light falling from the ceiling. The theme changes every couple times a month.

Ong King Arts Center’s mission is to make a sustainable art community. It is a space for creative risk taking and artistic mastery.

Some of the strangely astounding acts involve jugglers, pole dancing, fire dancing, hula hooping, poetry, and painting.

“As an acrobat, I finally found a place where I can share my passion and not be judged and looked at as an outcast,” 33-year-old Jessica Abel said. “My first time here was two years ago, and I couldn’t believe how beautifully strange all the acts were.”


The artistry is endless at Ong King. Attracting artists in many genres, cultures, and acts, Ong King is known for allowing people to freely express themselves.

“What attracts me to Ong King is that it welcomes all walks of life with open arms,” 23-year-old Kailua resident Kainoa Makua said. “It’s a place where you get to step out of the ordinary, out of your comfort zone and expand your perception of art.”

With 1,300 square feet to take advantage of, the event and workshop space has a beautiful outside patio that is constantly changing and evolving.

Not only is it a place to check out, if you’re interested in the feels and atmosphere of this little loft, it is also available to rent for social gatherings and workshops.

“Performances reveal work, classes provide guidance, and the space is electrified with growth,” Ong King states on its website. “There, one can both become humble and try something new, and/or attain new levels or artistic mastery through practice and criticism.”

During the week, classes and workshops such as Hawaii Irish dance and swing dance classes are available to the community. Also, every Sunday, Ong King holds an open mic that allows anyone to perform and show off his or her talent.

With $5 for all you can drink kava, Ong King is an amazing, offbeat place for those who appreciate unique talents.

“The crowd embraces everyone’s talent,” said Abel, a Michigan native. “The energy in this room in undeniably unlike any other place I’ve performed at.”

Video by Ong King Art Center website