The Hukilau rolls into Fort Lauderdale for events Wednesday through Sunday, and we’ll be posting all the important updates here. Also, get news on the sinking of the Rapa Nui Reef in Deerfield Beach, plus we have some quick hits on a new seminar at Trader Vic’s in Atlanta, new bands at Tiki Oasis, and Tiki Kon merchandise. Regular features spotlight the late Tiki carver Barney West, The Molokai lounge at The Mai-Kai, Beachbum Berry’s new website, and surf guitarist Skinny Jimmy Stingray. The rum of the week, Rhum Barbancourt 3 Star, is featured in Beachbum Berry’s Tahitian. Note: Starting in June 2015, updates are being published twice a month, around the first and third week. But don’t worry: We won’t miss any of the latest news. * Keep up with The Week in Tiki: Facebook page | RSS feed | See past weeks | Archive * Weekly features: Artist | Website | Band/music | Tiki bar | Rum | Cocktail | Events
The Hukilau is here! Get the latest updates
South Florida is being invaded by a colorful swarm of aloha-shirt-wearing, rum-drinking, pleasure-seeking retro culture enthusiasts looking for an unadulterated Tiki experience. That could mean only one thing: The Hukilau is upon us. The East Coast’s largest and most authentic Tiki event hits Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday through Sunday, June 10-14, and this is the place to get the latest updates as well as live coverage. This blog post will be updated with all the latest news and updates, so be sure to check back.
Latest update: Noon Thursday, June 11
* The Harold Golen Gallery has announced details of the “Big Eye Spectacular” exhibit that opens Thursday in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar featuring a new painting by Shag created specially for this event. Many more top Pop Surrealist artists will be participating, so be sure to check this out. Each artist created original artwork inspired by the “Big Eye” trend from the 1960s and ’70s, most famously featured in the work of Margaret Keene. The Tiki Treasures Bazaar is open Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Also on Saturday, don’t miss the meet and greet at the Golen Gallery space from 1 to 3 with a book signing and autograph session featuring Dawn Wells, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Jeff Chenault, and Domenic Priore.
* Those lucky enough to attend Thursday night’s Tiki Tower Takeover will be sampling cocktails from three bars that are among the best in the country. We already knew that, but Tales of the Cocktail made it official in announcing the nominees for the ninth annual Spirited Awards, perhaps the most prestigious and coveted awards program in the spirits industry. From more than 2,000 nominees, a panel of 100 industry experts picked the top 10 for each of 24 award categories. Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco) was nominated for Best American Cocktail Bar, while both Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 (New Orleans) and Lost Lake (Chicago) were nominated for Best New American Cocktail Bar. Click here to see all the Spirited Awards nominees. The final four in each category will be named on Tuesday, June 16, and the winners will be announced at the 13th annual Tales of the Cocktail on Saturday, July 18. Brian Miller (“Tiki Mondays With Miller” New York City), winner of the recent Tiki cocktail showdown at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, will be mixing up drinks in The Hukilau’s exclusive event in the revolving 17th story lounge at Pier 66 along along with Berry, Lost Lake’s Paul McGee, and Smuggler’s Cove owner Martin Cate. Each of the acclaimed barmen will be presenting a special, full-sized and fully garnished drink to guests in this laid-back happy hour. Berry says he’ll be doing a new take on the 151 Swizzle, while Cate is rolling out a drink name he’s been saving for something special, based on the term Admiral Vernon used to describe drunkenness in his 1740 decree that ordered the watering of rum rations and the birth of grog. Meanwhile, Miller promises a “Daiquiri that beat up the Pina Colada and took his lunch money.” McGee is sure to have something just as creative up his sleeve for this one-of-a-kind meeting of the Tiki cocktail minds, so you’ll want to arrive early … and thirsty.
Previous updates as of 4 p.m. Tuesday
The Hukilau: June 10-14, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Special guest: Dawn Wells. Musical guests and performers: Alika Lyman Group, The Intoxicators, Gold Dust Lounge, Pablus, Slip and the Spinouts, Kinky Waikiki, Skinny Jimmy Stingray, King Kukulele, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, Lila Starlet, DJ James Brown’s Sweat. Symposium presenters: Arthur Dong, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Domenic Priore, Jeff Chenault, Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener. Guest bartenders: Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Brian Miller, Martin Cate, Paul McGee, Dean Hurst, the Straw Hat Barmen. TheHukilau.com | Facebook | Twitter The Atomic Grog’s full event preview: The Hukilau keeps 20th century Tiki culture alive and thriving in the 21st century
TICKETS: Online sales at TheHukilau.com ended Tuesday. Beginning Wednesday, you can buy tickets at the event during registration hours at Pier 66 in the Crystal Atrium entrance, just off the lobby and next to the Tiki Treasures Bazaar. The multi-day passes are sold out, but you can still pick up single-day and event passes for Thursday through Saturday, plus tickets to the symposiums and the Three-Hour Tour Cruise with Dawn Wells of Gilligan Islands fame. Registration hours are noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Polynesian Pop enthusiasts from around the world will gather Wednesday through Sunday (June 10-14) in Fort Lauderdale for The Hukilau, the East Coast’s largest and longest-running celebration of all things Tiki. The event reaches new heights in its 14th year at the towering Pier 66 hotel with marquee events that include the country’s top Tiki cocktail barmen and actress Dawn Wells, aka Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island.
The Hukilau: June 10-14, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Special guest: Dawn Wells. Musical guests and performers: Alika Lyman Group, The Intoxicators, Gold Dust Lounge, Pablus, Slip and the Spinouts, Kinky Waikiki, Skinny Jimmy Stingray, King Kukulele, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, Lila Starlet, DJ James Brown’s Sweat. Symposium presenters: Arthur Dong, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Domenic Priore, Jeff Chenault, Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener. Guest bartenders: Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Brian Miller, Martin Cate, Paul McGee, Dean Hurst, the Straw Hat Barmen. * Buy tickets, get more info at TheHukilau.com * Latest updates:The Hukilau on Facebook | Twitter * The Atomic Grog:The Week in Tiki
For a so-called fad that started in the 1930s and peaked in the mid-20th century, Polynesian Pop seems to be doing quite well 15 years into the 21st century. So what makes Tiki culture so enduring, and endearing?
“It’s really all about the escape,” said Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White, an Alabama native who co-founded The Hukilau in 2002 in Atlanta and sagely moved it to Fort Lauderdale and its historic Polynesian palace, The Mai-Kai, in 2003. “Some of us live the lifestyle, but for so many others, they get to dress in island prints, make tropical cocktails and create an instant vacation. Tiki gives all of us a release from the hustle of everyday life.”
After coming precariously close to saying aloha and goodbye to The Hukilau, the long-running Tiki event she has organized since 2002, Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White is sure glad things turned out differently. “For me, it was the best event in the history of The Hukilau,” she said of the five-day festival in June that not only marked the 13th annual gathering of vintage culture devotees from around the world, but also a new beginning.
Just months before she planned to close the books on The Hukilau for good, White was approached by two fans of the event who also happened to be experienced businessmen and event organizers who were eager to strike up a partnership. “I consider myself a very lucky person,” she said of the serendipity of the happenstance that led to The Hukilau not only surviving to see 2015, but becoming poised to thrive and reach new audiences across the country.
I sat down with Tiki Kiliki recently at The Mai-Kai, the beloved 57-year-old Polynesian restaurant that serves as the inspiration for the event, to get the lowdown on what she and her new partners, Richard Oneslager and Mike Zielinski, have in the works for The Hukilau and how their mutually beneficial partnership came about. But first, a look back at that memorable event in June that was expanded to five days in anticipation of a last hurrah. Instead, it turned into a celebration of what’s to come.
“This is going to sound really strange, but sort of like Disney, it was kind of like magic this year,” Tiki Kiliki told me. “You can’t really explain it, but everything just fell into place in a magical way. We talked about it afterwards. We don’t really know what the magic formula was, it just happened.”
The magic started on Wednesday, June 11, when what was formerly an informal night at The Mai-Kai became the Unofficial Official Pre-Party. South Florida roots/rockabilly band Slip and the Spinouts jammed in the sold-out Molokai bar while other attendees enjoyed many of the bar’s 47 classic Tiki cocktails and the restaurant’s extensive appetizer and dinner menu in the more sedate dining rooms. Logistical problems at the Sheraton Yankee Clipper forced the cancellation of Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid’s scheduled midnight swim show, but that just gave some attendees the opportunity to begin their room parties early. Disappointed guests were heartened by the fact that there was much more Marina to come.
In Hawaii, aloha can mean both hello and goodbye. For the annual Polynesian Pop gathering that returns to Fort Lauderdale in less than two weeks for its 13th annual celebration, both definitions are particularly apropos.
For the many devotees who will be traveling from around the world to attend the retro-themed festivities on June 11-15, aloha has quickly gone from meaning a lamented last fling to a promising new beginning. After regretfully deciding late last year that 2014 would be the “Final Aloha,” organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White announced in April that The Hukilau will continue in 2015 with new partners and new energy. Look for more details at this year’s event.
But the focus now is on the expanded five-day bash that’s rapidly approaching. Featuring live music, symposiums, artists, vendors, special events and performances, The Hukilau is the East Coast’s largest Tiki-themed event. Thousands of mid-century and retro culture enthusiasts have made the annual pilgrimage since 2002 in search of the most authentic Tiki experience.
With tickets rapidly selling out and Tikiphiles flocking from around the world for the 13th and final edition of The Hukilau, organizers could certainly rest on their laurels. Instead, the annual Tiki event in Fort Lauderdale is getting an injection of new entertainment to add even more value (and fun) to the festivities.
The Sweet Hollywaiians, one of the most memorable bands in the history of the event, will be making the trek from Osaka, Japan, to perform for the second time. The ensemble, formed in 2002 by a group of street musicians, carries on the 1920s and ’30s string band tradition with their all-instrumental arrangements. They seamlessly combine a smorgasbord of vintage styles such as Hawaiian, Swing, Ragtime, Blues, Calypso and Italian. The foursome plays an array of string instruments, such as lap steel guitar, banjo, tipple, ukulele, mandolin, and bass.
The band first wowed The Hukilau faithful in 2010, when they performed at the Bahia Mar and The Mai-Kai. They will return to both venues in 2014, headlining the Friday night Main Event at the hotel and making a special Mai-Kai appearance on Saturday. Previously announced entertainment includes The Left Arm of Buddha from Belgium, The Smokin’ Menehunes from California, and Florida bands The Intoxicators, Skinny Jimmy & The Stingrays, Slip and the Spinouts, and Gold Dust Lounge. Click here for more info on the bands and special guests.
The Hukilau: June 11-15, 2014, at the Bahia Mar Beach Resort and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Get tickets and make hotel reservations now at TheHukilau.com. Click the links below for more info.
When Tikphiles from around the world gather in Fort Lauderdale in June for the 13th and final edition of The Hukilau, they’ll be treated to an eclectic assortment of bands, speakers and entertainers that the event has been known for, from an “exotic” orchestra from Belgium to Tiki’s most famous cocktail author.
The official website launched early today with full details on the five-day festival that honors authentic mid-century Polynesian Pop culture like no other. The entertainment lineup includes seven bands, two special guest performers, four symposium speakers, and a cruise through Fort Lauderdale’s famous waterways.
The Mai-Kai’s Molokai bar was filled with costume-clad revelers on Friday, Oct. 25, for the historic Polynesian restaurant’s frighteningly festive Halloween bash known as Hulaween. South Florida surf band Skinny Jimmy & the Stingrays performed three sets of retro classics and choice originals, there were many creative entries in the costume contest, and a good time was had by all at the fifth annual event. See below:Browse 20 photos from the event
The bar opened at 5 p.m. for happy hour and exotic Halloween tunes programmed by The Atomic Grog. The band hit the stage after 7, cranking up the energy as Skinny Jimmy channeled Satan himself. The rest of the band took on the personas of famous Halloween characters as they ripped through instrumental surf hits from the past 50 years, including such appropriate songs Moonlight Surf, Dark Eyes, Jack the Ripper, Ghost Riders, and the Munsters TV show theme.
A Mexican wrestler and a pirate, better known as Mai-Kai manager Kern Mattei and marketing director Pia Dahlquist, once again hosted the costume contest and awarded the grand prize to a creative couple who came to the party as a pair of Tikis. Runners-up included several artistic Day of the Dead couples, the scary Sleestak and a confused Rastafarian Scotsman.
The band kept the party rockin’ until midnight as attendees enjoyed The Mai-Kai’s legendary tropical drinks in the nautical-themed lounge. Sponsor Captain Morgan also presented rum and cocktail samples featuring its tasty Captain Morgan Black.
The fifth annual Hulaween at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale will feature a lot of classic elements, from the surf music of Skinny Jimmy & the Stringrays to the cocktails, food and decor at the 56-year-old Polynesian palace. One additional classic element for 2013 is a theme centered around a classically bad B-movie.
The Horror of Party Beach is a 1964 horror film intended to be “a take-off on beach parties and musicals.” What it ended up being is one of the 10 worst films of all time, according to The Book of Lists. It was also among the films in the 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.
Shot in black & white on a miniscule budget in Connecticut, the film stars laughable creatures that are said to be derived from water plants and dead human tissue mutated from radioactive waste. The monsters become humanoid by attaching themselves to skeletons in a shipwreck, then proceed to hunt down and kill a series of comely young women. The official trailer:
The 56-year-old Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale hosts many signature events throughout the year, such as The Hukilau in June and the legendary Polynesian restaurant’s anniversary party in December. But perhaps the most distinctive (and frighteningly festive) is Hulaween every October.
Marking its fifth anniversary on Oct. 25, Hulaween has become one of South Florida’s most authentically fun Halloween bashes. No fancy gimmicks or wacky concepts, just a good old-fashioned costume party in The Mai-Kai’s nautical-themed Molokai bar featuring some of South Florida’s best retro-themed bands.
Deerfield Beach surf band Skinny Jimmy & the Stingrays will be making its Hulaween debut this year, providing the perfect soundtrack of classic instrumental tunes from the ’50s and ’60s, plus their exceptional originals. Once again, The Atomic Grog will dig up 50+ years of rockin’ Halloween tunes to play between sets. Expect the dance floor to again be filled with zombies and monsters of every persuasion.