Tiki Kiliki: 15 years of The Hukilau, 15 years of memories

In honor of the 15th anniversary of The Hukilau, we asked Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White to share her remembrances from her 15 years as co-founder, co-producer and organizer. Starting in 2002 in Atlanta and moving to Fort Lauderdale the next year, the event has experienced plenty of high points for guests and participants. But what does Tiki Kiliki remember most?
Video: A look back at The Hukilau’s first 14 years

The Hukilau 2016: June 8-12, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
* TheHukilau.com | Facebook: Page and Group | Twitter | Instagram

Christie "Tiki Kiliki" White

Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White

There were so many highlights, she said, it was tough to narrow down. Here’s a year-by-year look back at a few of the most vivid:

2002 – Two things stick in Tiki Kiliki’s memory from the inaugural event: “The look on the manager’s face when Wayne Coombs began using his industrial stapler to cover the Echo Lounge in Atlanta with reed fencing for The Hukilau party that night.” The other was meeting Sven Kirsten and King Kukulele for the first time, “taking them to antique markets, thrift stores and the Clairmont Lounge.”

2003 – Tiki Kiliki will always remember entering the doors of The Mai-Kai for the first time. “It changed my life forever,” she said. Meeting owner Mireille Thornton and hearing her say that The Hukilau reminded her of the way it used to be was “the ultimate compliment AND memory!” She got an unexpected surprise during the first U.S. appearance of Italian band I Belli Di Waikiki. “They dumped an entire cooler of ice down the back of my dress,” she remembers.

The Hukilau 2006

2004 – Nobody will forget Hurricane Jeanne. “It was a terrible thing to go through, but it created some of the best memories,” Tiki Kiliki said. “People slept in The Mai-Kai and I learned a lot about how you always trust your gut. We should have evacuated the day prior.” The other highlight was watching Billy Mure play the music that he loved to play in front of true fans. “He was horribly arthritic, but he always said the only time he wasn’t in pain was when he was playing,” she said. “He was a friend until his passing in 2013 at the age of 97.”

2005 – Robert Drasnin made a historic appearance, performing his classic Voodoo album for the first time since 1959. “It was one of the moments I’m most proud of in my life,” Tiki Kiliki said. “Everyone in the audience was mesmerized.” The performance was so successful and the reception so warm, “he actually began to write Voodoo 2 while in Fort Lauderdale that weekend,” she said.

2006 – The Hukilau was the first Tiki event to offer symposiums, which made their debut this year. “We started offering these educational hours for those seeking out more knowledge of Tiki’s past,” Tiki Kiliki said. “To say the least, it was a hit.” First, she asked Sven Kirsten. Next was Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. “I still remember what it felt like when he said he would do it,” she said. “He gave a sold out symposium. He’s been an amazing friend and advocate of me and The Hukilau ever since.”
* Go11 Events: Official photo archive

Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White welcomes artists Kevin Kidney (right) and Jody Daily to The Hukilau 2015. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White welcomes artists Kevin Kidney (right) and Jody Daily to The Hukilau 2015. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

2007 – It may seem simple, but the official logo, created by Kevin Kidney, was “a game changer,” Tiki Kiliki said. “Kevin is still one of the most kind people you could ever meet, and a lifelong friend.” Another highlight was hearing the song “Phantom Mustang” by the Intoxicators for the first time. She calls it the “Sleepwalk” (Santo and Johnny) of our era.
* Go11 Events: Official photo archive

2008 – This year marked the first appearance of Bosko at The Hukilau, and his symposium sold out. “It was such an honor to have him at my event and in my home for drinks,” Tiki Kiliki said. “Bre-elle Ishtar’s Sarong-O-Rama was so fun that year too.”
* Go11 Events: Official photo archive

2009 – Two things stand out: The world premiere of Tikimentary, the film by Tiki Kiliki’s friend Duda Leite. And Los Straightjackets performing poolside at the Bahia Cabana.
Audio slideshow flashback: Los Straitjackets highlight a rockin’ 2009 Hukilau
* Go11 Events: Official photo archive

Shag participates in a fashion show at The Hukilau 2010

Shag participates in a fashion show at The Hukilau 2010. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

2010 – This year saw the first U.S. appearance by the Sweet Hollywaiians from Japan, and The Hukilau debut of Shag. The world premiere of the DVD of Tiki was another highlight. “And that year’s artwork, created by Anna Powell, is still my all-time favorite,” Tiki Kiliki said.
Audio slideshow flashback: Opening party reached a new level of overindulgence
Special report, photos, recipes: Room Crawl and Master Mixologist Cocktail Challenge
* Go11 Events: Official photo archive

2011 – The Rum Rat Pack was assembled by Beachbum Berry for a symposium at The Mai-Kai. Joining the Bum were Martin Cate, Wayne Curtis, Ian Burrell and Stephen Remsberg. “History was made that day.”
* ‘Rum Rat Pack’ starts a revolution at Hukilau 2011
* Go11 Events: Official photo archive

2012 – Angie Pontani performed for the first time, wowing the villagers. “I had met her many years prior at the first Tease-O-Rama in New Orleans,” Tiki Kiliki said. “It was a dream come true to have her at The Hukilau.”
* A whirlwind weekend of tropical delights
* Go11 Events: Official photo archive

Ìxtahuele performs at The Mai-Kai at The Hukilau 2013. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Ìxtahuele performs at The Mai-Kai at The Hukilau 2013. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

2013 – Ìxtahuele came all the way from Sweden for their first U.S. performance. “What they are doing is PURE exotica,” Tiki Kiliki said. She also cited Nani Maka’s hula at the closing of Tom Duncan’s historical symposium on the Yankee Clipper. “It was a showstopper!”
* Photos and memories from 2013
* Go11 Events: Official photo archive

2014 – Tiki Kiliki remembers opening the box with the official event mug by Eekum Bookum’s John Mulder. “His cannibal mug that year sold out quickly and stands as one of the best in our history,” Tiki Kiliki said. Also, the symposium led by Pam Kueber of RetroRenovation.com stands out. “I was very proud that she attended.”
* Following ‘magical’ 2014, Tiki Kiliki has big plans for The Hukilau in 2015 and beyond
* Go11 Events: Official photo archive

Christie "Tiki Kiliki" White with actress Dawn Wells (left) and Mai-Kai owner Mireille Thornton at The Hukilau 2015. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

Christie "Tiki Kiliki" White with actress Dawn Wells (left) and Mai-Kai owner Mireille Thornton at The Hukilau 2015. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

2015 – “Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) was at The Hukilau,” Tiki Kiliki said. “I never thought I’d ever say that! She was a dear. Seeing her and Mrs. Thornton hug and tell stories was worth every second of work!”
* The Hukilau soars at mid-century marvel Pier 66 hotel
* Photos, recaps: Wednesday | Thursday
Friday | Saturday/Sunday
* Go11 Events: Official photo archive

2016 and beyond – The memories have yet to be written, but Tiki Kiliki already has one that sticks with her: “Having the best staff one person could ever hope for – past and present. Without them I couldn’t keep going,” she said. “Sherill Gross, Amy Eggers, Dave “Basement Kahuna” Wolfe, Ananda Keator Lewis, Brian Crum, James Teitelbaum, Liz Lang, Shelley Knepper, Jim Hayward, George Jenkins, Amber and Matt, James McDonald, Doug Stewart, Dean Hurst, Christina Jordan, Jimi Gonzalez, Patrick Lejuene, Stacie Herndon, Aaron Burke, Anna Powell, Bill Dillard and Go11 – and anyone who has contributed to our 15-year history … mahalo!”

Video: A look back at The Hukilau’s first 14 years

About Hurricane Hayward

A professional journalist and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Jim "Hurricane" Hayward shares his obsession with Polynesian Pop and other retro styles on his blog, The Atomic Grog. Jim's roots in mid-century and reto culture go back to his childhood in the 1960s, when he tagged along with his parents to Tiki restaurants and his father's custom car shows. His experience in journalism, mixology, and more than 20 years as an independent concert promoter make him a jack-of-all-trades in the South Florida scene. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Jim is a longtime web producer for The Palm Beach Post. In his spare time, he has promoted hundreds of rock, punk, and indie concerts under the Slammie Productions name since the early 1990s. In 2011, he launched The Atomic Grog to extensively cover events, music, art, cocktails, and culture with a retro slant. Jim earned his nickname by virtue of both his dangerous exotic drinks and his longtime position producing The Post's tropical weather website.
This entry was posted in 2016, Art, Culture, Events, Events, Events, Events, History, History, Hukilau, Mai-Kai, Music, South Florida and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply