Lila Metzgar

KUGA head Lila Metzgar. Photo by Jerek Barcelona

Hip Hoppin’ the Day Away

by Anne E. O’Malley

KUGA was underground, but look again. What Kaua`i UnderGround Artists founder and dancer Lila

[Balmores] Metzgar ran on her own, in friends’ garages for their kids and for the county is now in two Kalaheo locations and spreading.

We’re talkin’ hip-hop and break dancing that for a long time was invisible on the island but now, says Metzgar, “Going into 2013, we’re seeing more.”

Begun as RAQUAD in 2003, Metzgar says it was such an alternative lifestyle it was as if KUGA were a safe secret place and you just didn’t know they were around.

That was the case, until Metzgar started to showcase this dancing style in a Love Life Creative Festival held annually in May and going on its fifth year. The rest of the year, KUGA also does mini hip hop jams “and battle for prizes, for example, for respect, for trophies, and some sponsors donate cool T-shirts and things.”

Students as young as four years old up to her oldest student, age 46, participate in classes up to four days a week, year-round. The dancer’s commitment is individual — as much or as little as he or she wants.

“Our goal is not to create the next big hit dancer,” says Metzgar. “Through what these students are learning and how they express themselves, they’re learning life skills beyond those of a professional dancer.

“Our goal is to create conscious reliable citizens of our community. It translates to schoolwork, and adults having dreams and going after them.”

Check out the photos below — then continue to read more about KUGA, including upcoming events.


Metzgar knew from small kid time that she wanted to dance and choreograph, but pursued a career in modeling, becoming an IT girl — international traveler. She learned Pilates and took dance classes.

“I paid a lot to take classes as an investment in my dance,” she says.

When she moved back to Kaua`i, she didn’t find what she was looking for in dance, “not in the style and way I wanted to move in dance, so a lot of friends of mine were like why don’t you teach it Lila? I think Pilates is a good background to be able share this kind of movement.

Lithe and lean, a surfer since she was 12, Metzgar points to the men in the Balmores family, known to be excellent surfers, and she says, “I’ve been totally blessed through that gene pool.”

Her go-getter mom has been a role model as she rose through the ranks in the visitor industry from a switchboard operator with no college education to her fourth position as a general manager, today at Aston at Po`ipu Kai.

And if she’s toting up the great role models, Metzgar has a biggie on her side. She says, “The catalyst of it all is God, where I have the faith to take chances.

“I know my identity, which gives me confidence to do crazy things. I know even if the task at hand fails, I’m still loved by God.

“If everyone who comes in here walks in that reality, no matter what happens, you are loved by God. And that’s a world changer.”

Visit online at for details about classes, jams and the annual Love Life Creative Festival now in its fifth year. For information, Email

On the site, click on the KUGAVA box for the visual arts side of KUGA, located a few doors down.


Valentine’s Day Dance Party

February 14, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Island School in Puhi

Love Life 2013 Auditions

Open auditions will be held at the Valentine’s Day Dance Party between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. To audition, R.S.V.P. at

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