Updated June 13
In Hawaii, aloha can mean both hello and goodbye. For the annual Polynesian Pop gathering that returns to Fort Lauderdale in less than two weeks for its 13th annual celebration, both definitions are particularly apropos.
The Hukilau: Wednesday, June 11, through Sunday, June 15, at the Bahia Mar Beach Resort and The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. Get tickets and more info at TheHukilau.com and Facebook. | See all of The Atomic Grog’s coverage
For the many devotees who will be traveling from around the world to attend the retro-themed festivities on June 11-15, aloha has quickly gone from meaning a lamented last fling to a promising new beginning. After regretfully deciding late last year that 2014 would be the “Final Aloha,” organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White announced in April that The Hukilau will continue in 2015 with new partners and new energy. Look for more details at this year’s event.
But the focus now is on the expanded five-day bash that’s rapidly approaching. Featuring live music, symposiums, artists, vendors, special events and performances, The Hukilau is the East Coast’s largest Tiki-themed event. Thousands of mid-century and retro culture enthusiasts have made the annual pilgrimage since 2002 in search of the most authentic Tiki experience.
Performers and VIPs also travel from far and wide, spanning a wide gamut of vintage styles. Recently added to the lineup:
* Atlanta’s Grinder Nova return with their swaggering Latin-lounge antics for the first time since 2011. Frontman Johnny McGowan and his 8-piece band blend surf, Mariachi, and rock ‘n’ roll into a Bollywood musical number. Catch them at the Friday night Main Event at the Bahia Mar and Saturday night Main Event at The Mai-Kai.
* Special guest Angie Pontani is a key player in the burlesque revival, performing across the globe for over a decade. She appeared at The Hukilau in 2012, and will be taking the Bahia Mar stage at the Official Kick Off Party on Thursday night and the Main Event on Friday night.
* Tampa singer and multi-instrumentalist Pablus, leader of the Tiki band The Crazed Mugs, will be performing solo at the Bahia Mar and The Mai-Kai throughout the event.
* Kinky Waikiki, a four-piece band that plays “Hawaiian cocktail music” Georgia-style, is now part of the lineup for Thursday’s Kick Off Party. And El Capitan and the Band With No Name, a mysterious surf band from south of the border, have been added to the schedule for Saturday night at The Mai-Kai.
Previously announced performers and their scheduled dates and venues:
* The Sweet Hollywaiians, a Prohibition-era string band from Japan that covers a dizzying array of vintage styles, will headline Friday night’s Main Event at the Bahia Mar. They also are scheduled to play a special midnight set on the main stage at The Mai-Kai on Saturday night.
* The Left Arm of Buddha, an exotic orchestra from Belgium, brings their amalgam of mid-century styles and extravagant stage show to the Bahia Mar on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
* The Smokin’ Menehunes, a traditional Hapa Haole band from California, performs at Friday’s Main Event at the Bahia Mar and also Saturday during happy hour at The Mai-Kai.
* The Intoxicators, a Tallahassee instrumental surf band that has become as integral to The Hukilau as The Mai-Kai, returns for the 10th straight year to rock the Official Kick Off Party on Thursday night at the Bahia Mar, plus their traditional late-night set at Saturday night’s Main Event at The Mai-Kai.
* Miami’s Gold Dust Lounge, who just completed a new Kickstarter-funded album of their trademark surf and spy-jazz tunes, will headline Thursday’s sold-out Official After Party at The Mai-Kai.
* Slip and the Spinouts, veterans of the South Florida’s roots and rockabilly scene, return to The Hukilau after a five-year absence to play Wednesday night’s sold-out Unofficial Official Pre-Party at The Mai-Kai.
* Classic instrumental surf band Skinny Jimmy & The Stingrays from Deerfield Beach, who performed at last year’s unofficial Sunday after-party at The Mai-Kai, will make their official debut this year with sets Saturday night at 10 p.m. and Sunday afternoon in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai.
* Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid (Medusirena), South Florida’s own multi-talented retro-inspired performer, can be seen throughout the week: An extended version of her Friday swim show at 6:30 p.m. at the Wreck Bar in the nearby Sheraton Beach Hotel (Yankee Clipper); plus dance performances at the Main Event and Official After Party on Friday at the Bahia Mar; co-host of Saturday’s “Cocktails and Fishtails” symposium (more info below) at the Bahia Mar; plus performances Saturday night at The Mai-Kai.
* It wouldn’t be The Hukilau without California-based comedian/musician King Kukulele, who returns for his 13th year as the grass-skirted, ukulele-playing emcee. And The Disasternauts are likely to make a guerilla-style (or would that be gorilla-style?) appearance at Friday’s after-party hosted by Mike “Jetsetter” Jones.
A hallmark of The Hukilau are the “edu-taining” symposiums featuring noted experts, and there are five on this year’s schedule. Already sold out is author and Tiki cocktail historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry‘s Tiki’s Dark Ages: From Fern Bars To Rebirth, on Thursday at The Mai-Kai. If you miss the symposium, you can catch “the Bum” at book signings at the Bahia Mar on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
UPDATE: Click here for our story on Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and his appearance at The Hukilau
A la carte tickets are still available for these symposiums scheduled for the Bahia Mar:
* RetroRenovation.com presents: Create Your Own Suburban Savage Paradise, featuring Pam and Kate from the mid-century design website are hosting a panel that will include Tiki artists/designers Bamboo Ben, Danny Gallardo (Tiki Diablo), Jamie Wilson and Anjy Cameron (Cheekytiki), and David Wolfe (Basement Kahuna) on Friday at 4 p.m.
* Mark of the Beast – Animal Spirits Tattooed, a symposium from Washington, D.C., tattoo historian Paul Roe, is set for Friday at 11 a.m.
* Cocktails and Fishtails: The Untold Story of the Porthole Cocktail Lounge takes a look at the history of a unique mid-century phenomenon with hosts VintageRoadside.com and Medusirena (Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
* To Have and To Have Another – A Hemingway Cocktail Companion by author Philip Greene, co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans, will be held on Friday at 12:30 p.m.
Other participants include artist Derek Yaniger, who will sign prints (including a tribute to the late Bunny Yeager) at the Harold Golen Gallery booth at the Bahia Mar on Saturday. Noted mid-century Polynesian dancer Nani Maka will be signing photos at The Hukilau’s official merchandise booth. Guests will enjoy Tiki cocktails crafted by the The Straw Hat Barmen all weekend, including a booze cruise aboard the famous Jungle Queen (Friday at 2 p.m.), which like the symposiums is a separate ticketed event.
The full schedule is available at TheHukilau.com, but note that all events are subject to change so check back often. You can also find full profiles of all the entertainers, plus a list of all the vendors selling their wares in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar throughout the event.
Saturday night’s main event at The Mai-Kai includes two dinner shows featuring the restaurant’s acclaimed Polynesian Islander Review. On Sunday, there will be a showing of the PBS documentary Plastic Paradise: A Swingin’ Trip Through America’s Polynesian Obsession, plus an exhibit of artifacts from The Mai-Kai’s 58-year history.
As noted above, some of the event tickets have sold out, but many others are still available. Click on the tickets page to see what’s left and place your order. There will also be tickets sold at the door to some events, but its a safer bet to get them in advance. You could also earn a free ticket by volunteering to help staff the event. Click here for more info on how to participate.
Ticket-holders also have access to exclusive event merchandise: A Mai-Kai inspired mug crafted by Eeekum Bookum, a Trader Vic-inspired coconut mug, and a wide assortment of unique glassware featuring artwork from contemporary Tiki artists. Guests will also receive an enhanced goodie bag this year, Tiki Kiliki says. The first 300 to register will get a vintage ice bucket with bar supplies (shaker, shot glass, etc.).
* Missing The Hukilau and The Mai-Kai? Limited edition Tiki mugs are the next best thing
Another trademark of Tiki events such as The Hukilau are all the unofficial room parties. Many are impromptu and others more organized, such as this one featuring a live band and special cocktails.
Recent online coverage
* Broward/Palm Beach New Times: Hukilau is thriving and taking it “to the cext level” at The Mai-Kai again
Massive Tiki event kicks off Wednesday, will continue next year
* FloridaRambler.com: Celebrate Tiki culture in Fort Lauderdale at The Hukilau
Previous Atomic Grog posts on The Hukilau
* Never-say-die Tiki event announces return for 14th year in 2015
* The Hukilau adds new band, symposium to lineup for June’s ‘final aloha’
* Schedule announced for The Hukilau’s ‘Final Aloha’ in June
* The Hukilau announces entertainment lineup for ‘final aloha’
* The Hukilau’s Tiki Kiliki announces ‘The Final Aloha’ in 2014
* The Hukilau changes hotels, expands to five days
* PBS stations say aloha to long-awaited documentary on Tiki culture
2013 recap: A Tiki Top 10: Photos and memories from The Hukilau 2013
* All posts on The Hukilau | The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide | All Mai-Kai posts