In honor of The Hukilau’s 15th year and the 60th anniversary of The Mai-Kai, event co-founder/organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White has assembled some of the top names in the Tiki revival for special events and symposiums that promise to educate as well as entertain. On March 3, she announced a first-of-its-kind Tiki event, a groundbreaking gathering of some of the biggest names in the modern revival.
Tickets are on sale now for “Raiders of the Lost Tiki Culture”, a freewheeling panel discussion on Saturday, June 11, moderated by yours truly and featuring Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Otto von Stroheim, Humuhumu, Martin Cate, Crazy Al Evans, Shag, and Tiki Kiliki herself. The godfather of the Tiki revival, Sven Kirsten, will participate via Skype. “We would not be celebrating today if it weren’t for these people,” Tiki Kiliki said of her colleagues on the panel.
It’s just $15 for this very special event, which will follow von Stroheim’s “2001: A Tiki Odyssey” symposium at 1 p.m. in the Panorama Ballroom at the Pier 66 hotel. Previously announced symposiums include author and bar owner Berry, Shag, Humuhumu, Tiki historian Tim “Swanky” Glazner, tattoo artist Paul Roe, plus South Florida artists Tom Fowner and Will Anders.
The Hukilau: June 8-12, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
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* Recent Atomic Grog coverage: Entertainment, music and symposiums announced
The “Raiders of the Lost Tiki Culture” panel discussion will be divided into two parts: First, Kirsten, Berry and von Stroheim will discuss the early days and evolution of the revival. Then, they’ll be joined by Humuhumu, Cate, Evans, Shag, and Tiki Kiliki to talk about how the revival inspired them to push the boundaries even farther. “I don’t want people to forget how we got here,” Tiki Kiliki said.
You’ll hear the stories of how Tiki became a passion for a select few Californians, and how they revived this lost culture for the rest of the world to enjoy. Learn how they did their research and how they found each other, kicking off a new renaissance that continues to this day. The rest of the panel will talk about their discovery of Tiki, and how they approach their own unique experiences.
I’ll be quizzing the panelists about their place in the Tiki pantheon, and the audience will also have an opportunity to ask questions. A special cocktail is also included in the price of admission. It’s recommend you attend von Stroheim’s symposium beforehand to get the full backstory on how it all started.
Here’s a preview of the panelists on “Raiders of the Lost Tiki Culture” …
Jeff “Beachbum” Berry: The author of five authoritative books on Tiki culture and cocktails, including Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them and Beachbum Berry Remixed, this former Hollywood screenwriter has recently expanded his empire with his first Tiki bar and restaurant, Latitude 29 in New Orleans. He also has his own cocktail recipe app (Total Tiki) and his own line of bar products, produced by Cocktail Kingdom. At The Hukilau, Berry will also host his own symposium, “World War Tiki,” on Friday, June 10, at 4 p.m. He’ll also be slinging cocktails in the sold-out Tiki Tower Takeover on Thursday, June 9.
* The Atomic Grog: Take 5 interview | Latitude 29: Bar of the Week
Otto von Stroheim: The founder of Tiki News and co-creator of Tiki Oasis is a California native and graphic designer who has been one of the Tiki scene’s prime movers for more than 20 years. He gave Tiki an artistic ege with his early art exhibits and Tiki Art Now! books. At The Hukilau, von Stroheim will also host his own symposium, “2001: A Tiki Odyssey,” on Saturday, June 11, at 11:30 a.m.
* The Atomic Grog: Take 5 interview | Tiki Oasis recap
Sven Kirsten: Author of The Book of Tiki, Tiki Modern, and Tiki Pop, this Los Angeles film professional has created his own style of research, “urban archaeology.” With an encyclopedic knowledge of Polynesian Pop, Kirsten is the world’s foremost expert, elevating the field to a new level with a 2014 gallery exhibit in Paris. Due to a prior commitment on a film project in his native Germany, Kirsten will unfortunately not be able to attend The Hukilau, but we’ll be able to get his thoughts via a Skype conversation.
Humuhumu: This San Francisco-based software engineer and Polynesian Pop historian created two of the most essential websites for Tikphiles. Critiki is a database of more than 850 bars from around the world, both active and historic. Humuhumu has personally visited more than 140 of them. She also created Ooga-Mooga, the premiere site for Tiki mug collectors. Humuhumu will also host her own symposium, “First Person Tiki: Seeing Polynesian Pop with Your Own Eyes,” on Saturday, June 11, at 10 a.m.
* The Atomic Grog’s Website of the Month: Critiki | Ooga-Mooga
Martin Cate: The owner of the award-winning rum and Tiki bar Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco is also a soon-to-be author. His first book, Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki, will be released during The Hukilau, where he will hold several book-signings. Cate, a speaker and authority on both rum and Tiki, also has a hand in several other bars across the country. At The Hukilau, he’ll also be mixing up cocktails in the sold-out Tiki Tower Takeover on Thursday, June 9.
* The Atomic Grog: Take 5 interview | Smuggler’s Cove: Bar of the Week
Crazy Al Evans: A fixture in the art scene since the early days of the revival, the California-based artist is known for his distinctive mugs and carvings. A former contributor to Tiki Magazine, he’s also a musician and de facto host of many events across the country. His work is featured many contemporary bars, from Hawaii to New York.
* The Atomic Grog: Artist of the Week | Molokai Maiden mug
Shag: The ascent of artist Josh Agle, aka Shag, has gone hand-in-hand with the Tiki revival. He had his first solo gallery exhibition in 1997 and was featured in many early Tiki art shows. His paintings depicting a colorful mid-century paradise populated by hipsters, beatniks and Tikis was immediatly embraced by the Tiki scene. Shag’s distinctive style of commercial art gone wild later caught on with a much wider audience, and he remains one of the most popular artists in the lowbrow genre. He nows has two stand-alone stores (in Palm Springs and Los Angeles) and a thriving line of prints and other merchandise in addition to his highly regarded fine art. Shag is returning to The Hukilau (for the first time since 2010) in a big way, hosting the sold-out Shag’s SkyLounge in the 17th floor ballroom at Pier 66 and also presenting his first-ever symposium at a Tiki event, “I Learned My ABC’s in Waikiki” (tickets still available). He’ll also be creating artwork for an array of official event merchandise to be announced soon.
* The Atomic Grog: Artist of the Year | Artist of the Month
Tiki Kiliki: Growing up in Alabama, Christie White felt the call of Polynesia early via vintage Hawaiian LPs she heard in a local antique store. By the time she co-founded The Hukilau in Atlanta in 2002, she was hooked. Inspired to create the event after meeting like-minded individuals in the Southeast and around the world via the Tiki Central message board, White became “Tiki Kiliki” and made it her life’s mission to spread aloha and promote the Tiki lifestyle. She’s been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines, on NPR, plus several documentary films on Tiki culture, including the PBS documentary Plastic Paradise.
* See the full lineup of symposiums and buy tickets. All symposiums are in the Panorama Ballroom at Pier 66; the art classes will be in the hotel’s Windows on the Green.
Beyond the “edu-tainment,” there will be plenty of performers taking the stage and Pier 66, The Mai-Kai and Kreepy Tiki Lounge to keep The Hukilau lively. Announced bands include California’s Tikiyaki Orchestra and Jason Lee and the R.I.P. Tides; plus Florida’s The Intoxicators, The Disasternauts, Skinny Jimmy Stingray, and The Quiet Villagers. Also on the bill are some of the biggest names in burlesque: Angie Pontani, Kitten de Ville, Lila Starlet.
* Profiles of all the performers
More beverage sponsors on tap
Tiki Kiliki has also announced additional sponsors who will be providing tasty product samples to guests throughout The Hukilau. Puerto Rico’s venerable Don Q and the Caribbean rums from Kenny Chesney’s Blue Chair Bay Rum will join the previously announced Flor de Caña (Nicaragua) and the Caribbean spiced navy rum from Sailor Jerry.
Sapporo Beer from Japan has also joined the eclectic lineup that also includes Hendrick’s gin, Reyka vodka, and Leyenda del Milagro tequila. More sponsors are being sought, Tiki Kiliki said. Click here for sponsorship info.
Pier 66 property expected to sell for $200 million
Concerns were raised recently when it was announced that the owner of the Pier 66 hotel and marina has put the prime real estate on the market. The property, which is owned by the Blackstone Group of New York, will not necessarily retain the Hyatt brand and is approved for additional mixed-use development, according to a report in Fort Lauderdale’s Sun-Sentinel.
Tiki Kiliki said hotel officials expect the sale to be completed by the time The Hukilau arrives in June, but it won’t affect the event. She has a contract for The Hukilau to stay at the hotel through 2017, she said. The new owner would have the option of signing an agreement with any hospitality company or go independent, according to a story in the Fort Lauderdale Daily.
The sale of the iconic 384-room hotel is being handled by real estate and investment firm CBRE Hotels, which expects it to fetch around $200 million, the Sun-Sentinel story said. The market value is $77.5 million, but a “highly competitive environment” is expected to drive up the price, according to a CBRE senior executive.
If a sale is made, the new owner would take over without a brand or management firm, the Sun-Sentinel said. The agreement with Hyatt is due to expire this year.
But after talking to her contacts at the hotel, including the general manager, Tiki Kiliki said she isn’t concerned. “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about,” she said. “We should be fine.”
The site has been approved for 58 new luxury residential units in two 11-story towers with more than 30,000 square feet of retail and office space, CBRE officials told the Sun-Sentinel. The marina, one of the largest in Florida, is also considered to be a key selling point. The lucrative Fort Lauderdale Boat Show is held nearby at the Bahia Mar resort.
But, at least in the short term, it’s Tiki Kiliki’s understanding that the existing facilities will stay in place. “It will stay as a hotel,” she said.
Blackstone, a private equity firm, bought the Pier 66 site along with the Bahia Mar, plus Palm Beach County’s Boca Raton Resort & Club, in 2004 from H. Wayne Huizenga as part of a $1.25 billion deal. In 2014, Blackstone sold the Bahia Mar for an undisclosed amount and put the Boca resort on the market.
The Bahia Mar was The Hukilau’s host hotel five times, more than any other venue. It hosted the event in 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2014. It was the site of the event’s biggest crowds, but 2016 promises to break all attendance records. In 2015, The Hukilau moved to Pier 66, known for its 17-story tower and revolving rooftop cocktail lounge built in 1965. It’s considered a vintage example of space-age mid-century modern architecture.
The tower’s Pier Top Ballroom is the site of The Hukilau’s two signature, sold-out events on Thursday, June 9: Shag’s SkyLounge, a “Martini meet and mingle” with the acclaimed California artist; and the Tiki Tower Takeover cocktail party, a one-of-a-kind event featuring signature drinks from top Tiki barmen Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Martin Cate, Paul McGee, Brian Miller, and St. John Frizell. Rooms are close to selling out, Tiki Kiliki reports. It’s advised that you book a room now to ensure your spot at Pier 66.
In addition to the tower, the Pier 66 hotel includes two lanai-style two-story buildings, five restaurants, three pools, a spa, and 41,000 square feet of event space. The marina dates back to 1956, when it was built as a fuel dock for Phillips 66 Petroleum Co. Phillips opened the original 100-room “Pier Sixty-Six” hotel in 1957.
The tower, which has dominated the skyline at the south end of Fort Lauderdale Beach for 50 years, may soon be dwarfed by the new development planned for the Bahia Mar property. Though not yet approved, two 39-story condo towers have been proposed despite objections by opponents. The redevelopment plans for the resort and marina on city-owned property on Fort Lauderdale beach have been on hold since city commissioners asked for smaller towers Feb. 3, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
The sale and renovation of a host hotel is nothing new for The Hukilau. The Yankee Clipper, another historic property that dates back to 1956 and sits on the same southern tip of Fort Lauderdale Beach, changed hands several times during the past decade. It served as The Hukilau’s host hotel in 2006-2008, and 2013. The family of the original owner, hotel pioneer Bob Gill, sold it in 2005, and it later changed names to the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale. After extensive renovations, the 486-room hotel was sold again in 2014 for $107 million and rechristened the B Ocean Resort.
Still commonly referred to as the Yankee Clipper, the distinctive hotel designed to look like an ocean liner retains some of its unique features. The hotel’s famous watering hole, The Wreck Bar, retains many of it’s classic elements and has found a newfound popularity over the past decade as home of the weekly swimshows by Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid (MeduSirena) and her pod of aquaticats. Let’s hope the new owners of the Pier 66 property have the same reverence for the past.
Marina will be performing three special shows exclusively for guests of The Hukilau at The Wreck Bar. Saturday’s Polynesian-themed show is sold out, but tickets are still available for $15 for performances on Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. (“Glamour Girl”) and Thursday at 2 p.m. (“Savage Jungle”). Click here to buy tickets.
The Hukilau: June 8-12, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring Shag, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Martin Cate, Paul McGee, Brian Miller, St. John Frizell, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, The Tikiyaki Orchestra, Jason Lee and the R.I.P. Tides, The Intoxicators, Skinny Jimmy Stingray, The Quiet Villagers, The Disasternauts, Otto von Stroheim, Paul Roe, Tim “Swanky” Glazner, Humuhumu, Tom Fowner, Will Anders, Jeff Chouinard, Angie Pontani, Kitten de Ville, Lila Starlet, plus more.
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The Hukilau 2016 on The Atomic Grog
* Entertainment, music and symposiums announced, full website launches
* First dinner show full, Shag event and hotel near sellout
* All Tiki Tower Takeover tickets are taken, 5th bartender announced
* The Hukilau: All five-day tickets are sold out
* Tiki Tower Takeover bartenders return, Marina to perform in expanded Wreck Bar
* The Hukilau 2016 passes on sale now at 2015 prices
* Passes, special event tickets and rooms available soon
* Shag to help toast The Hukilau’s 15th anniversary