Trivia Nights for visiting buffs

Trivia nights have taken over a handful of Honolulu nightlife hotspots recently. They are a great way for visitors to experience non-tourist Honolulu and engage with thoughtful residents.

Bars and restaurants in Downtown and Chinatown, Kakaako, Waikiki, the University of Hawaii, and way out in Hawaii Kai fill up with teams of friends on given nights (usually weeknights) to match wits with like-minded people with a love for the trivial. Honolulu visitors with a love of trivia have a variety to choose from.

Bar managers around Honolulu have seen that trivia nights are a great way to get customers in the door who may be looking to eschew loud music or constant reruns of Sportscenter on multiple big-screens. These customers still want to enjoy going out with friends, but with a mission of doing something more than just “going out drinking.”

You have to know your stuff on Honolulu trivia nights.

It’s a broad demographic that turns up for trivia nights: young (but over 21) and old, women and men. Blue collar welders and aloha shirted lawyers, bar industry veterans and active duty military. And among the teams there always seems to be similar characters. The team captain is usually the most vocal. The “ringer” is the quiet one that everyone turns to when the question is a stumper. And there’s always the person who reflexively blurts out the answer for all the teams to hear (sshhh!).

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Robin, an operations manager at Atlantis Submarines & Tours, runs the trivia night at the Brewseum (Wednesdays, 6pm). He says that there are generally three reactions to the questions he poses. Either people know the answer immediately, they have no clue whatsoever, or it’s on the tip of their tongue, maddeningly out of reach. “That’s the reaction we’re looking for,” says Robin. He and a partner create the questions themselves.

Different establishments have different formats, but all are similar in offering modest prizes. Cash, gift certificates, or bar swag, it doesn’t matter. The satisfaction of besting other teams in a battle of intellectual prowess far exceeds the value of a PBR t-shirt or Corona beer coozie.

Honolulu trivia nights swag.

There’s a certain decorum involved in trivia nights. Shouting out answers is frowned upon. Being a sore loser (or a bad winner) is taboo and just might find you invited not to return. Rules for trivia nights vary with the venue, but just being a good sport is a sure way to enjoy them.

For visiting trivia buffs looking to experience authentic Honolulu outside the stereotypical postcard trope, trivia nights are a great way to meet new and friendly people. And perhaps to make lasting friendships with some locals. With a little planning before your Hawaii vacation, a fun-filled night of trivia and libations is easy to make happen.

Click here for a list of trivia nights in Honolulu (there’s a lot!).