Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Bounty Bar’s stage is lit and ready for fakaleiti action. Neiafu Tonga.

“We’ve been doing this for 8 years*, every week, because we love it, even if no one shows up to watch.  We want to give you something to talk about regarding Tonga – us!”
*Neiafu’s Tonga Bob’s, touted in “current” guide books but no longer in existence, mentions their fakaleiti show.  Guessing that’s where their performances were staged prior to Bounty Bar’s, probably the same place under the new name and ownership, but no more sand floors. 

Wish my figure was at least half
as good as this Fakaleitis!

Thus opened the Neiafu Vava’u Bounty Bar’s weekly fakaleiti Show, rakishly touted by its owner Lawrence as “The most fun you can have in Tonga with your clothes on.”

Performers either pranced
in massively tall pumps
like these, or spiky,
or went barefoot.

Coconut “bra” and grass skirts – it doesn’t get
much more classic “native” than that. 

Fakaleitis are Polynesian men who dress as women.  In Polynesian families with not enough girls to complete the “women’s work,” it’s considered an acceptable tradition to raise males in the family as girls. They wear women’s clothes and do women’s work.  Other fakaleitis choose it as a lifestyle.  Their status as fakaleitis is not necessarily indicative of their sexual preference.  Considering how conservative Tongans are regarding appearance**, it’s gratifying to see fakaleitis are a readily accepted, even admired, part of the Polynesian cultural fabric.

Why bright red hair the over-the-top
wig color of choice in Tonga?  Never
blond, which would be equally unnatural
looking on a Tongan.  Everything red 
rugby madness, perhaps?

*Shoulders are expected to be covered, as are legs from the knee down.  Cleavage and displays of public affection between genders, even hand-holding, is frowned upon in Tongan culture.  Except in resorts (catering to foreigners), swimmers are expected to wear clothes, rather than a bathing suit.

Twinkle, twinkle, not-so-little fakaleti star!

From 10 – 10:30 pm, Bounty Bar’s fakaleitis put on one heckuva show!  There is no cover charge for the show, though it’s expected you’ll order a drink Bounty Bar serves no food).  The audience is encouraged to show their appreciation by tucking tips onto the dancers while they performed, as was the case with the Tongan child dancers (click here for that) and the Hinkauea Beach native dancers (click here for that).

Afterward, part of the audience, mostly local girls, took over the dance floor to boogie.
Ironically, the most shapely post-show dancer, wearing strappy CFM heels and a sexy skin-tight white dress.  Chuckling, our friend Steve from Armagh pointed out the dancer had a suspiciously flat, muscular chest and butt.  Auditioning for a future fakaleiti show, perhaps?  “The best looking ‘girl’ dancing,” Wayne mused, “was a guy.”

Meanwhile, the emcee and fakaleiti dancer got his (her?) wish – here I am, “talking” about Tonga, and the fabulous fakaleiti dancers.

More sparkle still at the fakaleiti show,
Bounty Bar, Neiafu Tonga.

Location Location

This post was written and pre-posted and pre-posted in Uoleva, Ha’apai TONGA (S19.50.863 W174.24.864), about our time in Neiafu, Tonga (S18.39.443 W173.58.965).  We are cruising Tonga’s Ha’apai group of islands now, but by the time this posts we will likely be in Tonga’s Nuku’alofa, readying to make our hop to Minerva Reef.

Cruising Progress by the Numbers
As of our start, December 7th 2014, from Jacksonville FL NAS, USA until our current (October 31, 2015) travels around Tonga are — 10 months, we’ve spent about a third of our time –129 days — sailing and covered ~8,800 nautical miles.  The prior 2 years combined, we sailed 3762 miles.  By the time we arrive in New Zealand in November, less than a year from when we set out, we expect we’ll sail over 10,000 miles this year.  That’s a lot of miles for a boat with a hull speed of 7 knots; we usually sail far slower than that.
Wifi access will be very limited until we arrive in New Zealand in mid-November. There will be periodic posts running while we’re cruising and lots of catch-up posts.