Updated Feb. 8, 2018
Polynesian Pop has always been deeply ingrained in American culture, from Tiki’s mid-century heyday through today. This symbiotic relationship will be explored in colorful detail during special symposiums at The Hukilau, the 17th annual Tiki weekender happening June 6-10 in Fort Lauderdale.
Among the special presentations now on sale at TheHukilau.com are “Travel with Trader Sam” hosted by Disney Imagineer Kyle Barnes and “The Golden Age of Tiki and the South Pacific on Television” with film and video collector Ron Ferrell.
Disney’s Kyle Barnes was art director of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney World and Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland. He also oversaw the 2015 refurbishment of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort in Orlando (left). (Contributed photos)
The Hukilau: June 6-10, 2018, at the Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
* TheHukilau.com | Facebook: Page and Group | Twitter | Instagram
Quick links: Tickets | Book hotel | Symposiums | Schedule
Previous story: The Hukilau 2018: More bands, more bars, more Tiki!
Guests who buy multi-day passes get first shot at these and other educational activities, including Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy classes and rum tastings, craft classes with noted artists, plus many other hands-on activities. Also on sale are tickets to the three aquatic performances by Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid and her pod of aquaticats at The Wreck Bar at the nearby B Ocean Resort.
Previously announced were symposiums by special guests including rum and cocktail luminaries Ian Burrell and Brother Cleve, craft classes with South Florida artists Tom Fowner and Will Anders, “go-go aerobics” with burlesque queen Angie Pontani, a mid-century makeup symposium, plus hula lessons. The symposiums and craft classes range from $10 to $25, with most priced at just $15. This is a reduction from years past intended to offset a slight rise in the price of passes, which run from $175 to $399.
Here’s a preview of the new symposiums and classes:
An artist’s rendering of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney World from Walt Disney Imagineering, and a photo from the grand opening in March 2015. (Atomic Grog photo)
* “Travel with Trader Sam” with Kyle Barnes (Friday, June 8): What made the Jungle Cruise’s head salesman venture beyond Adventureland? Why open his first cocktail outpost at the Disneyland resort? How did he land on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World? Veteran Walt Disney Imagineer Kyle Barnes will answer these questions and share rarely seen details from the design and development of both locations of Disney’s popular Tiki bar concept.
* Related: Say ‘Aloha’ to Disney’s revamped Polynesian resort
* On The Atomic Grog: Trader Sam’s profile | Kyle Barnes at Mahaloween 2014
* “The Golden Age of Tiki and the South Pacific on Television” with Ron Ferrell (Saturday, June 9): An exclusive look at how Polynesia was represented during the golden age of television. See clips and enjoy the commentary as Tikiphile and cinema fan Ferrell shares his collection of film and video of Tiki and Polynesian pop from Hollywood, TV shows, and commercials.
At The Hukilau 2017, villagers had the opportunity to participate in classes ranging from Tiki carving, to cocktails (with Chicago’s Three Dots and a Dash), to rum tasting. (Photos by Heather McKean)
Updates: The presentation “The Rise, The Fall, The Resurrection, The Redemption” by Boston-based music, Tiki and cocktail pioneer Brother Cleve will be held on Friday. Global rum ambassador Ian Burrell will host his symposium “Who’s Your Daddy? The Pina Colada Paternity Test” on Friday and a rare rum tasting on Saturday. Still to be added to the schedule: A Tiki history symposium in the works from Tim “Swanky” Glazner, author of Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant, (2016).
New craft class: The Hukilau’s featured artist from 2017, Tiki Tony, will offer instruction on the finer points of a forgotten style of art. In “Paint Your Own Black Velvet Masterpiece” on Saturday, June 9, the California craftsman will guide villagers as they create their own works of art (velvet, brush, and paint supplied).
Click Aloha: Buy Tiki Tony’s past mugs and glassware from The Hukilau
At The Hukilau 2016, Medusirena performs at The Wreck Bar with her mermaid friends, then dances at The Mai-Kai with legendary Polynesian performer Nani Maka. (Photos provided by Medusirena)
Medusirena Marina swimshows: Tickets are available for three exclusive performances for The Hukilau’s villagers on June 6, 7 and 8. In addition to Wednesday’s 10:30 p.m. burlesque-style show, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid will present 2 p.m. matinees on Thursday and Friday. All swimshows are $20 and include reserved seating and clear views.
* The Hukilau 2016 photos: Glamour Girl Swimshow | Savage Jungle Swimshow
Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy curriculum: Intimate instruction on a variety of Tiki-centric topics will be available in a hands-on, intimate setting at The Hukilau for a second year. In addition to the expert advice (and cocktails), students will receive bar tools created exclusively for The Hukilau by Tiki Diablo. After completing a designated number of classes, graduates will receive the California artist’s new Okole Maluna Academy mug. All classes are $49.
The curriculum includes nine different classes and a total of 13 sessions spread over Friday and Saturday. Instructors include bartenders from the 12 Tiki bars from around the world who will also be serving their signature libations at events such as the Tiki Tower Takeover, Rum Island Pool Party, and High Tide Party. New instructors for 2018 are Ayme Harrison from South Florida’s Death Or Glory (“Evolution of Tiki Drinks”), Christina Jordan of Central Florida’s The Straw Hat Barmen (“Stocking Your Home Tiki Bar”), and yours truly (“How to Mix Like The Mai-Kai”). Returning from last year’s faculty are rum ambassador Ian Burrell (“Blending Rum”), Kevin Beary from Chicago’s Three Dots and a Dash (“The Tiki Pantry”), Scotty Schuder from France’s Dirty Dick (“Rum + Lime + Sugar”), Daniele Dalla Pola from Italy’s Nu Lounge Bar (“Aloha Friday”), plus Pittsburgh’s Hidden Harbor (“Birth of the Tiki Drink”).
Many of these symposiums, classes and special performances have limited capacity and will likely sell out. The Hukilau’s inventory of hotel rooms at Pier Sixty-Six is also not expected to last long, so it’s a good idea to reserve now. You must click through TheHukilau.com to get the special room rate. A second hotel with special rates will be announced soon.
A hula class at Pier Sixty-Six during The Hukilau 2017. (Photo by Heather McKean)
Multi-day passes went on sale in late December and are also selling fast, organizers say. The entertainment features a high-caliber lineup of surf and exotica bands including Los Straitjackets and The Martian Denny Orchestra from Tennessee; The Madeira from Indiana; Mr Ho’s Orchestrotica Quintet and Czarna Wolgastar from Massachusetts; The Exotics from Wisconsin; Black Flamingos and The Royal Pacifics from New Jersey; and The Intoxicators and Skinny Jimmy Stingray from Florida.
Festival attendees can catch live music, DJs and other entertainers all five days of The Hukilau, from a 7,500-square-foot ballroom in the Pier Sixty-Six hotel to the 150-capacity Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai, the legendary Polynesian restaurant that has served as the event’s nerve center since 2003. On Thursday through Saturday, the Tiki Treasures Bazaar will host artists and vendors selling their wares at Pier Sixty-Six.
The Hukilau, established in 2002 in Atlanta, has grown from a small gathering into an international event, drawing up to 1,500 visitors annually. A “Hukilau” is a traditional Hawaiian festival at which villagers cast a large net into the sea to bring a wide assortment of fish to shore. It’s followed by a feast that celebrates the spirit of ‘ohana, or family and community. The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale was designed as a modern equivalent that attracts lovers of Tiki culture from all over the world for a unique, vintage-styled celebration. The Hukilau has proudly kept Polynesian Pop’s past alive and well, while also stirring interest among a new generation of talented artisans, performers, mixologists, and enthusiasts from all walks of life.
Previous coverage from The Atomic Grog
The Hukilau 2018
* The Hukilau 2018 tickets on sale now: More bands, more bars, more Tiki!
* Rum Renaissance Festival moves next door, creating ultimate rum and Tiki weekend
The Hukilau 2017
* Daily recaps, news, photos and video
* Summer season heats up with The Hukilau
* The Atomic Grog explores 60 years of Tiki cocktail history
* Tiki Tower Takeover features Ian Burrell, international flair
The Hukilau 2016
Day 1: Pre-Party at The Mai-Kai, The Wreck Bar mermaid show
Day 2: Savage Jungle Swimshow, Tiki Tower Takeover, Kickoff Party and Tiki Treasures Bazaar, Shag’s SkyLounge, After Party at Kreepy Tiki
The Hukilau 2015
* Tiki’s top barmen take over the Pier 66 tower
* The Hukilau soars at mid-century marvel Pier 66 hotel
* Day-by-day recaps and photos: Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday/Sunday
More Hukilau history
* 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009
* Tiki Kiliki’s memories | Video: The first 14 years