Danny Hughes first landed in Cayman in 1975 at the age of 16 with his father Sonny Hughes. Those who have been on the island since those days may remember him; Sonny purchased the Galleon Beach Hotel from the McLean family back in 1978.
It’s been 42 years since his juvenescence, yet he still makes regular jaunts to Little Cayman, his second home. Seems he just can’t stay away.
Any time you bring up the word Cayman around Danny, he conveys a sunny smile, fondly recalling events from the ‘70s and ‘80s, like the opening of the Holiday Inn, one cruise ship per week in the harbor and the Wednesday night barbecues at the Galleon Beach Hotel.
It was a time when the Tradewinds, Memory of Justice and the High-Bisques Band rocked Seven Mile; a time when tourists danced with locals to calypso, reggae and soca, or they would “rent-a-tile,” meaning they’d dance with someone so close, they’d stay within the boundaries of a floor tile.
There was no provocative “daggering” grinding on the dance floor back then, or you’d be thrown out of the bar. It was a time when music was played by humans with instruments, not computers.
Football vs. rugby
Danny glows even more when talking about American football or rugby in Cayman at the time, and playing the games in the field in front of the Coral Caymanian Hotel. Remember that place? The players included Pete Ribbins, Brent Brinkerhoff, Capt. Butch, Tom and Mickey Hajecate and an assortment of others.
After the games, the players would gather for “greenies” (Heineken beer) at the Royal Palms Hotel bar or Galleon Beach and the conversation usually drifted toward rugby vs. American football. Once the alcohol took effect, the taunts became loud, funny and often obnoxious.
“American Football is a woman’s game,” someone would say.
“Rugby is for real men who don’t wear those silly protective pads,” another would shout.
“You need endurance to play American football and they make more money than the rugby players!” And so it would go.
One day, as Danny recalls, Mickey Hajecate, with drink in hand, stood up in front of Eric Bergstrom (founder of the original Tortuga Club in East End with his then wife, Suzy Soto) and said, in essence, “We challenge you to a game of flag football, no pads, and I will put up the $10,000 that the winner will donate to charity!”
Eric and his team didn’t back down and the “Turtle Bowl” was born, which was held on the Rugby Club pitch. Reid Dennis, owner of Durty Reid’s for many years and the star of the film “The Cayman Triangle,” arranged for Radio Cayman to air the event while he called the play-by-play.
The Conchs Football team beat the Greenies Rugby Team 26-2. The Conchs were invited to the Greenies Clubhouse, and despite the blood and sweat left out on the field, the Conchs experienced that strange phenomenon of rugby, where you spend time beating each other to a pulp, followed by getting trashed together and singing lewd songs. “It was one of the best examples of fellowship I have ever known,” recalls Danny.
Danny’s not a fan of Cayman’s overdevelopment, that’s why he now hides out in Little Cayman, which to him still retains the charm and allure of the good old days. And if you don’t believe that Danny is a super Cayman devotee, check out his $70,000 custom Porsche Cayman. What more proof do you need?
Cayman is an alternative spelling of caiman, a reptile of the same family as the alligator. The Porsche car is not named after the Cayman Islands; rather the islands also derive their name from the caiman. When the first Caymans arrived at dealerships for sale, the automaker adopted four caimans at Stuttgart’s Wilhelma Zoo.
Porsche brought an infringement lawsuit in 2009 against Crocs, the maker of the popular rubber shoes. At issue was the footwear company’s clog name, also called Cayman. An injunction was granted against Crocs Europe, a division of the Longmont, Colorado-based shoe company, preventing their use in Germany of the Cayman name.