Forget New Year’s Eve. For many, the Halloween season is the biggest party time of the year. And the upcoming event calendar at the usually mellow Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale is a prime example.
This mid-century Tiki temple has been known in the past for barely acknowledging holidays. This is a good thing. It’s the perfect place to get away from the annoying mob scene at other establishments during rowdy holidays. But Halloween is quickly turing into The Mai-Kai’s best time of year to let loose, next to The Hukilau of course.
This month’s festivities feature three major parties in the classic Polynesian restaurant’s Molokai lounge, where you’ll still feel like you’ve been taken away to an island paradise despite the surrounding creepy costumes. Just sip a few Zombies, and you’ll be fine.
Friday, Oct. 21 – Vintage Masquerade Ball
Kicking off the ghoulish galas is this retro-themed bash hosted by Mike “Jetsetter” Jones, former owner of the late, great Jetsetter Lounge in Lake Worth and DJ of a popular Friday night party every month at The Mai-Kai. This month, Mike invites revelers to turn on their “wayback machines” and break out their hippest vintage threads.
Attendees are encouraged to dress in their favorite period attire (vintage ’50s and ’60s recommended). More partial to the French Revolution? No problem. Just choose the period of your choice. Not the elaborate costume type? Mike suggests a simple masquerade ball mask, or a trip to a local vintage store for ideas. Need help? Check the Facebook event for ideas.
The Ball runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., but the eclectic music will keep going as long the crowd remains. Mike calls his playlist “swankadelic sounds for modern minds” and “retro-active tunes for your drinking and dancing pleasure.” His great appreciation for many different styles of music from the past 50 years will ensure you’ll never be bored. And don’t forget, the regular happy hour featuring half-price cocktail and appetizers runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., so arrive early to get a jump-start on the festivities.
Saturday, Oct. 22 – Zombie A-Go-Go
It’s been way too long since their last party in June, when an overflow crowd packed The Molokai for the roof-raising jams of DJs James Brown’s Sweat, Mikey R and Zombie Sensitive Side. This time, The Mai-Kai is prepared, and we’re told that a huge dining area adjacent to the bar has also been set aside for the impending hordes of hipsters.
The DJs – also known as Nick Dewey of vintage retailer Moderna Muerte, Mike Ramirez of the recently relocated indie beacon Radio-Active Records, and DJ Jasper Delaini – have seen their semi-annual Mai-Kai bashes grow exponentially larger with each occurrence. They draw a young, eclectic crowd from far and wide with their onslaught of soul, rockabilly, greasy ’50s and ’60s R&B, surf, dance, goth, disco, fuzz, garage, new wave, and whatever else they throw into the mix.
Don’t forget to get dolled up for the occasion as there will be a costume contest with prizes to the winners. Check the Facebook event for updates. Horror films will be projected all night long on the dance floor, and once again The Mai-Kai is offering an extended happy hour from 10 p.m. to midnight. The festivities start at 9, and if past parties are any indication, the revelry will continue well past the witching hour.
Friday, Oct. 28 – Hula-ween Party and Costume Contest
Last but not least, The Mai-Kai will be hosting its third annual bash featuring a costume contest and live music by South Florida rockabilly band Slip and the Spinouts. Happy hour runs from 5 to 7, as usual, followed by spooktacular activities through 11 p.m. in The Molokai bar.
Pupu Platters and “Mount Gay Grogs” are half price all night long. Everyone in costume will receive a raffle ticket for a free Mystery Drink. And the Mount Gay Girls will be on hand from 7 to 9 with free samples of Mount Gay rum drinks.
You’ll want to break out your best costume for the occasion. First prize is a weekend at Hotel Dorchester in South Beach, second prize is a $250 Mount Gay Rum gift basket, and third prize is a $150 dinner for two at The Mai-Kai. Sign-up is from 7 to 9 with judging starting at 10.
Slip and the Spinouts is one of the hardest working bands in Florida, performing their own take on classic American music from Daytona Beach to the Keys. The band blends rockabilly with rock ‘n’ roll, swinging blues, surf, old country and roots music to appeal to a vast audience of music fans. Their large repertoire features their rockabilly originals plus takes on classic songs by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Carl Perkins, Dick Dale, the Ventures, Hank Williams Sr., The Stray Cats, Reverend Horton Heat, and many more.
The Mai-Kai is at 3599 N. Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale, on the west side between Commercial and Oakland Park boulevards. Valet and paid self-parking only, though it’s possible the fee will be waived in the late-night hours. To make dinner reservations, call (954) 563-3272.