The Hukilau 2019 updates: Hotel room parties are back, The Surfrajettes return to The Mai Kai, plus more

As promised, news and updates on The Hukilau 2019 are flowing like rum from a barrel as villagers gear up for Feb. 1, when tickets and hotel rooms will go on sale for the 18th annual Tiki weekender in Fort Lauderdale.

Announcements last week included this year’s featured artist, plus countdown parties at Miami Rum Congress in February and The Mai-Kai in March featuring The Surfrajettes. Now, we have exclusive news that The Hukilau will be hosting its first guest room parties in nearly a decade. Scroll down for all the details …

The Hukilau 2019 official artwork by Baï, an artist based in Paris.
The Hukilau 2019 official artwork by Baï, an artist based in Paris.

The Hukilau: June 5-9, 2019, at the Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
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Previous story: First official announcement promises enhancements, same vintage experience

NEW: Latest announcements on The Hukilau 2019

Hotel room parties return: It’s been quite a while since The Hukilau’s guests, known affectionately as “villagers,” have been able to throw their own official full-blown room parties at the host hotel. It was 2010, in fact, when we last enjoyed an official “crawl,” back when The Hukilau was at the Bahia Cabana and special guest artist Shag served as one of the room party judges. There’s now a pent-up demand for such parties, but they have unfortunately long been a logistical challenge.

In 2019, however, The Hukilau organizers have risen up to meet that challenge. There will be 10 room parties approved by Pier 66 and sanctioned by The Hukilau, we’re told. They will be held on one night only: Thursday, June 6, following the signature Tiki Tower Takeover. Organizers will begin accepting proposals for themed rooms starting next Monday, Jan. 21, and ending on Feb. 8.

Flashback: During The Hukilau 2010 room crawl, the artist Shag visits Robotiki's Planet of Forbidden Tiki while the Disasternauts perform in the Go11 Spaceport at the Bahia Cabana on Fort Lauderdale Beach (RIP). Click photo for a recap and gallery.
Flashback: During The Hukilau 2010 room crawl, the artist Shag visits Robotiki’s Planet of Forbidden Tiki while The Disasternauts perform in the Go11 Spaceport at the Bahia Cabana on Fort Lauderdale Beach (RIP). Click photo for a recap and gallery.

“This is a great opportunity for villagers to get more involved and help create and shape part of The Hukilau experience,” said Richard Oneslager, the event’s owner and head organizer. He explained that applicants will be selected with an eye toward creating a broad mix of styles and unique experiences. In other words, if you want your party proposal to be picked, be creative.

“There will be a distinguished panel of judges, and there will be prizes,” Oneslager added. More details will be announced soon on the The Hukilau’s Facebook page, so keep an eye out. Questions about proposal requirements can also be obtained by e-mailing


Aloha official artist Baï: The Hukilau welcomes a new official artist for 2019, a Paris-based sculptor, illustrator and graphic artist known as Baï. In addition to artwork including the piece above, Baï will be crafting the official event mug and joining villagers at The Hukilau in June. Baï may be new to The Hukilau, but you likely have seen work she has done for a long list of clients, including Tiki bars Three Dots and a Dash, Pagan Idol, Dirty Dick, Mahiki and Laki Kane; rum companies Plantation, Don Q, Havana Club and Flor De Cana; plus Real Cocktail Ingredients and Tiki Farm.
Find Baï online: Official website | Facebook
* Press coverage: Meet the Parisian artist crafting Tiki mugs out of her kitchen | Baï: The only French Tiki ceramist

Takeover by Reàl Ingredients & The Hukilau at Miami Rum Congress

Countdown to The Hukilau parties: Building on the success of The Hukilau’s London Tiki Takeover event last fall during London Rum Week and The UK RumFest, organizers are planning more “all-year aloha” for their villagers and followers. The first of 2019 is a collaboration with sponsor Real Cocktail Ingredients at Miami Rum Congress on Feb. 9. This new Tiki Takeover on South Beach will be hosted by global rum ambassador Ian Burrell, a perennial special guest at The Hukilau and one of the Miami Rum Congress organizers. Burrell is also the driving force behind the London events.

The Takeover by Reàl Ingredients & The Hukilau event will run from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Shane Center and feature on-stage entertainment including music, interviews plus international and local cocktail competitions. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff “Beachbum” Berry makes an appearance. One of his Latitude 29 bartenders will be competing in the international competition, and you can catch the Bum later in the day presenting the symposium “Brigands, Barons & Beachcombers: The Many Faces of Planter’s Punch.”
More online: Buy Miami Rum Congress tickets | Facebook event for the Tiki Takeover

The Surfrajettes perform in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau in June 2017. (Atomic Grog photo)
The Surfrajettes perform in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau in June 2017. (Atomic Grog photo)

The countdown continues on March 2 at The Mai-Kai with the special event “100 Hundred Days to The Hukilau” featuring live music from The Surfrajettes, all the way from Canada. Co-hosted by the band’s label and friend of The Hukilau Hi-Tide Recordings, the party will start with happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m., followed by two hours of instrumental surf from the band that wowed The Hukilau in 2017. Does this mean a return in June is in the cards? We can only hope.
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The Toronto foursome burst onto the scene in 2015 with viral Facebook videos and on-stage chops that backed up the hype. Their latest release for Hi-Tide is the Party Line / Toxic single (2018) on 7-inch vinyl and digital download. This follows up their 2017 debut, a self-titled three-song EP on CD and download. Check out the Bandcamp page for all the digital downloads.

Previous story
* First official announcement promises enhancements, same vintage experience

The Hukilau past coverage
* 2018 recap: Photos and video from social media | More 2018 coverage
* 2017 daily recaps, news, photos and video | More 2017 coverage
* More past coverage: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

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.
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