The Hukilau has become a Fort Lauderdale institution, an annual bacchanalia of Tiki culture that draws devotees from around the globe for four days of revelry. The throngs of “villagers” are easy to spot on the south end of tourist-laden State Road A1A. Sporting Hawaiian shirts, exotic tattoos and toting Tiki mugs, they certainly let their passion show.
The 12th annual event – set for this week at two beachside hotels and the legendary Mai-Kai restaurant – could be daunting to the newbie or casual observer. So, for those who just want to get their feet wet in this ocean of Tiki madness, here’s what to look for:
With just over a week before The Hukilau invades South Florida for its 12th annual vintage Polynesian Pop extravaganza, attendees can look forward to a great assortment of recently announced goodies from sponsors and the event organizers.
Angostura Rum and Bitters has not only joined The Hukilau as a sponsor, the venerable spirits company is sending brand ambassador David Delaney to the event to mix up some special tropical cocktails. Look for Delaney at the Angostura booth in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar at the Yankee Clipper on Friday, June 7, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Also joining as a sponsor in 2013 is Barritt’s Ginger Beer, a classic Caribbean brand that will be featured in cocktails Thursday evening in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar. While you’re in the bazaar, keep an eye out for these cocktails and other special events, such as Saturday’s 1 p.m. memorabilia signing by classic pin-up photographer Bunny Yeager and mid-century Polynesian dancer and actress Nani Maka.
In just six months, hundreds upon hundreds of Tiki and retro culture enthusiasts from around the world will descend upon Fort Lauderdale in search of the most authentic Polynesian Pop experience imaginable. If Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White has any say in the matter, they won’t be disappointed.
White has assembled another surprisingly eclectic cast of characters for the 12th edition of The Hukilau, a weekend celebration set for June 6-9 at the Sheraton Beach Hotel (aka the “Yankee Clipper”) and The Mai-Kai restaurant. As always, the event manages to embrace every nuance of mid-century kitsch: Exotica and surf music, rum and tropical cocktails, mermaids, Polynesian floor shows, Hawaiian shirts, Tiki mugs, vintage culture and artwork, Tiki carving, tattoos, and much more.
Co-founded by White in 2002 in Atlanta, the event found its permanent home at Fort Lauderdale’s legendary Mai-Kai in 2003 and has featured some of the biggest names in the modern Tiki revival, from author and mixologist Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (who returns for his eighth appearance this year) to author/photographer Sven Kirsten (The Book of Tiki) and artist Josh Agle (aka Shag).
The official website, TheHukilau.com, re-launched Tuesday and a new Travel Bulletin (the festival’s e-mail newsletter) was distributed with lots of event updates, including some new additions to the musical lineup and a detailed daily schedule.
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.