The Hukilau is the largest Polynesian Pop festival on the U.S. East Coast. It will be held April 19-22 in Fort Lauderdale at several beachside hotels plus the legendary Mai-Kai restaurant.
Guitar slinger Eddie Angel will be making his third appearance at The Hukilau in the past four years, but for the third time he’ll have a different band in tow. Having earlier performed with Los Straitjackets and The Neanderthals, the Nashville-based Angel returns with a new, out-of-this-world crew.
The Martian Denny Orchestra blends surf, spy and space sounds is quickly becoming an underground sensation in Music City. As expected from a Nashville group, the band’s members are some of the best in the business. Joining Angel are: guitarist Bob Irwin, owner of record label Sundazed Music and member of New York’s Pluto Walkers; bassist Dave Roe, who has played with everyone from Johnny Cash to John Mellencamp; multi-instrumentalist Jim Hoke (steel guitar, saxophone, flute, etc.), who has showed off his versatility with NRBQ, Toby Keith and others; and drummer Jimmy Lester, formerly of Los Straitjackets and currently with roots rocker Webb Wilder.
More music and a very special guest speaker have been added to the lineup for the 11th annual Hukilau, the massive Polynesian Pop party scheduled for April 19-22 in Fort Lauderdale. Organizers just confirmed the addition of exotica band Exotik-a-GoGo and influential author Sven Kirsten.
Exotik-a-GoGo, hailing from the not-so-tropical locale of Minneapolis, is scheduled to perform on Friday and Saturday nights. Combining jazz instrumentation with jungle rhythms and tropical birdcalls mixed with vibraphone, the group promises the pseudo experience of being transported to an exotic island destination.
The band cites influences such as mid-century exotica pioneers Les Baxter, Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman and Yma Sumac. You can catch them live every Friday and Saturday at Midwest Tiki hotspot Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge in Minneapolis.
Making a rare appearance at Hukilau will be one of the pioneers credited with kick-starting the Tiki revival, California-based and German-born Sven Kirsten, author of the Book of Tiki (2003) and Tiki Modern (2007). Kirsten will host a special presentation, “The Golden Age of Tiki Archeology: Unpublished Images from the Sven Kirsten Archive.” It’s sure to include a multimedia showing of great photos and discoveries that have never been seen before.
2012 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival: Monday, April 16, through Sunday, April 22, at the Deauville Beach Resort, Miami Beach. For more information, go to RumRenaissance.com.
It’s funny to see the reaction when people find out that The Hukilau, the 11th annual Tiki and rum-soaked weekender in Fort Lauderdale, has been moved to the same week as the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. “Whatever will we do?” Why, drink more rum, of course.
Last year, there was a good six-week buffer zone, so our livers had time to recover. This year, however, it’s a full-on rum onslaught. On April 19-21 (Thursday through Saturday), rum will flow liberally at The Hukilau’s beachside host hotels, and during nightly parties at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. Rum cocktail authority Jeff “Beachbum” Berry will highlight The Hukilau’s tropical-themed symposiums with his latest history lesson on the Zombie.
Meanwhile, less than 30 miles away on South Beach, the largest gathering of rum experts in the world will take over the ritzy Deauville (where the Beatles once played for Ed Sullivan) with VIP parties, competitions and “grand tasting” events. Rum Renaissance Festival organizers promise a bigger and better event this year with almost twice the square footage in the main exhibit hall, and many more rum brands from around the world.
Oh Mystery Girl,
what’s in this Mystery Drink?!
I must steal you away;
conscience now has no say
Into this heart of darkness I sink.
And now you’re leaving me with this …
a silken lei a single kiss?
A drink to fill this emptyness?
Don’t leave me Mystery Girl!
– Mystery Girl by The Crazed Mugs
The Mai-Kai’s Mystery Drink (and its accompanying ritual featuring the Mystery Girl) is no mere cocktail. It’s a Polynesian Pop culture icon, immortalized in song, on television and seared into the memory of countless Mai-Kai patrons over the past half-century.
When the drink is ordered, a gong is struck repeatedly as a Polynesian maiden silently delivers the huge, flaming bowl packed with at least 9 ounces of alcohol (some reports say it contains 13 ounces). The Mystery Girl dances before the lucky customer, placing a lei around the neck, then planting a kiss on the cheek before gliding away.
Organizers of the largest annual celebration of Tiki culture on the East Coast went straight to the event’s loyal following when it came time to plan the 2012 event. The result? An earlier date and other exciting changes that have just been announced on the event’s totally redesigned website, TheHukilau.com.
The Hukilau, which spent the past five years in early June, now moves to April 19-22 as the result of a poll of its Facebook fans. The earlier date promises milder weather and more separation from the other major summer events.
Activities will again be centered around two beachside hotels plus the legendary Mai-Kai restaurant, which is celebrating its 55th anniversary this month. But months of feedback from Hukilau fans resulted in several changes: More events at The Mai-Kai, a more budget-friendly hotel, and a more laid-back schedule with time to enjoy the company of friends and South Florida’s abundant beaches and beauty.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is The Hukilau’s commitment to high-caliber entertainment and educational symposiums. Among the 2012 highlights are: Nashville surf/spy/space supergroup The Martian Denny Orchestra; a symposium on the mysterious Zombie cocktail by influential mixologist and author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry; a hands-on symposium by tattoo artist and historian Paul Roe; and several performances by acclaimed burlesque star Angie Pontani.
Here’s an overview of this magical Polynesian weekend in America’s Vacationland:
The creators of a new documentary on the rise, fall and resurgence of Tiki culture have announced that artist Kevin Kidney has been hired as art director.
Much of Plastic Paradise was filmed last June at The Hukilau and the historic Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, and there are plans to show a sneak preview during next year’s Polynesian Pop extravaganza, scheduled for April 19-22. Plastic Paradise is then slated to hit the festival circuit, followed by airings nationwide on PBS affiliates.
The documentary, an hour-long chronicle of Tiki culture, was commissioned by PBS. The filmmakers, known as Common Machine, had previously provided PBS with an award-winning film about Cuban artists living in Miami, Hecho a Mano: Creativity in Exile.
* Click here to see a preview of Plastic Paradise
Information has been leaking out for months via Facebook but it’s finally now official: TheHukilau.com has launched for 2012 with a list of activities and info, ticket prices and online ordering. The Atomic Grog is happy to present some exclusive, additional details.
The biggest news for the April 19-22 Polynesian Pop extravaganza: A new host hotel, even more events at The Mai-Kai, and a special Beachbum Berry cocktail symposium. While a new Web designer puts the finishing touches on the 2012 site, Hukilau producer/organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White filled us in on some of the details:
New host hotel: The beachside Best Western Oceanside Inn will offer festival attendees a more affordable and intimate experience, Tiki Kiliki says. It’s located just south of The Hukilau’s longtime party central, the Bahia Cabana Beach Resort. You can make reservations at both hotels now by calling the phone numbers listed on TheHukilau.com. To get the best rooms at special group rates, you must call these numbers now instead of making reservations online.
After announcing a date change to April 2012, organizers of The Hukilau have been busy confirming an outstanding lineup of entertainment for the 11th installment of the Southeast’s biggest annual celebration of mid-century and Polynesian pop culture.
While designers are still crafting the official Web site for its upcoming re-launch and promotional press releases are being prepared, announcements are trickling out to followers of The Hukilau’s Facebook page and members of its Facebook group. Become a fan of the page or join the group to stay updated and share your thoughts and ideas.
The biggest news so far is the addition of The Martian Denny Orchestra, presumably as the Friday night headlining act. After performing at The Hukilau in 2009 and 2010 with Los Straitjackets and The Neanderthals, acclaimed Nashville-based guitarist Eddie Angel returns with this new, out-of-this-world project.
The annual gathering of the Tiki tribe in Fort Lauderdale, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, will be moving to April for its 2012 edition. It had been held in early June for the past five years.
“The Hukilau has moved to April in order to accommodate more outdoor activities at a cooler time of year and to give fans more time between all the great Tiki events out there,” said co-founder and longtime producer/organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White.
White has posted the 2012 dates as April 19-22. Final plans have yet to be announced, but look for more events taking place at The Mai-Kai, the legendary Polynesian restaurant that has been the centerpiece of The Hukilau since it moved from Atlanta in 2003.
Plans also call for a return to the Bahia Cabana at the south end of Fort Lauderdale Beach, which has been the longtime hotel of choice for Hukilau revelers. Its poolside stage has been host to a great lineup of retro-inspired bands, such as Los Straitjackets, The Woggles, and Tikiyaki Orchestra.