Minimalist Tiki

The Hukilau launches new website with full event details

Previous posts: Kevin Kidney named art director of documentary filmed at The Hukilau
2012 tickets on sale, preview of events | Eclectic lineup of bands confirmed
Annual Hukilau moves from June to April | Full Hukilau coverage

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,

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:


Prices range from $25 for Thursday night only to $150 for an all-access pass that gives you entry to all four days of events, including the symposiums. Other options are a Friday-Saturday pass for $55, and a Thursday-to-Saturday pass for $85 (not including symposiums). Tickets for the Friday Main Event at the Bahia Cabana are $27, and symposium prices range from $15 for “Ta-ta-u – The Mark of Civilization” to $35 for “Revenge of the Zombie.”
* Place your order now via PayPal or credit card | Full schedule of events


>> The Martian Denny Orchestra blends surf, spy and space sounds while covering instrumental classics by Duane Eddy, the Ventures, the Rockin’ Rebels and Santo & Johnny. Led by acclaimed guitarist Eddie Angel (Los Straitjackets, The Neanderthals), the band features a who’s who of top Nashville musicians, who boast resumes that include work with Johnny Cash, John Mellencamp, NRBQ and others.

>> Angie Pontani, founding member of the World Famous Pontani Sisters, will make several special appearances. One of the most recognized and respected names in burlesque, she has been credited with helping pioneer the new revival with her classic and classy approach to strip-tease.

Modern Caribbean Rum
Pablus of The Crazed Mugs.
Pablus of The Crazed Mugs.

>> The Intoxicators from Tallahassee have become a fixture at The Hukilau, performing multiple sets at multiple venues, sometimes (as the simian surf band The Disasternauts) as an entirely different species. A revved-up throwback to the 1960s instrumental surf scene, these guys always put on an energetic live show.

>> The Stolen Idols from Tampa is one of only a small number of ensembles in the world presenting exotica authentically, with acoustic instruments and a Latin jazz sensibility.

>> Miami’s Gold Dust Lounge, led by guitarist/songwriter Russell Mofsky, is an amalgam of surf, jazz, spy-fi and spaghetti western, filtered through a film noir lens with a bit of groove.

>> King Kukulele (aka Denny Moynahan) is as much a part of The Hukilau as The Mai-Kai itself. The comedian, actor and ukuleleist never fails to keep the energy level high with a his one-liners, hapa haole and novelty songs.

>> Pablus, co-founder of The Crazed Mugs, will be making special solo appearances with his ukulele and golden voice. His repertoire ranges from original Crazed Mugs tunes to Hawaiian, hapa haole and classic songs from yesterday.

>> Dan Cunningham has been channeling Elvis Presley for 15 years, performing everywhere from The Mai-Kai to Graceland. His repertoire covers everything from the King’s early rockabilly roots through his white jumpsuit days.

>> Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid has become a fixture at Tiki and retro events with her aquatic performances and stunt dancing. She and her team of mermaids perform at the nearby Sheraton Beach Hotel’s Wreck Bar, where windows into the second-floor pool offer a fish-eye view.

>> DJs Jack Fetterman and Gina of the Jungle, Heelgrinder and Lounge Laura Taylor will be spinning tunes throughout the weekend.

* More information on all the performers | The Martian Denny Orchestra | Angie Pontani


Jeff "Beachbum" Berry demonstrates how to make an authentic Don The Beachcomber Zombie.
Jeff "Beachbum" Berry demonstrates how to make an authentic Don The Beachcomber Zombie. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, April 2011)

>> Jeff “Beachbum” Berry is back with a new symposium, “Revenge of the Zombie,” at which he’ll dig deep into the archives to trace the development of one of history’s most infamous cocktail, from the 1930s to the present. Berry is the author of five books (with a sixth in the works) on tropical mixology and its rich history, and one of Imbibe magazine’s 25 most influential cocktail personalities of the past century.

>> Paul Roe of Britishink Tattoos in Washington, D.C., returns with another visually stimulating and informative symposium. “Ta-ta-u – The Mark of Civilization” will look at the importance of the male and female tattoos in Samoa, culminating in a demonstration of traditional tatau.

>> Tim “Swanky” Glazner will lead the first-ever symposium on the history of The Mai-Kai to be presented in the restaurant’s grand dining room. “Mai-Kai: History, Mystery & Adventure” will take guests on a trip back to 1956, when the Thornton brothers took Don the Beachcomber’s concept, supersized it and and plopped it down on a rural stretch of Fort Lauderdale’s U.S. 1.

>> “Plastic Paradise” – a new documentary on the rise, fall and resurgence of Tiki culture – will get a sneak preview. The project by Miami filmmakers Common Machine was commissioned by PBS with much footage shot at Hukilau 2011 in June.

>> An exclusive Tiki bowling event will be offered to a small number of lucky guests. They’ll get a chance to play the themed lanes and tour a vintage Tiki apartment complex west of Fort Lauderdale.

More information on the symposium hosts

The Mai-Kai


Due to popular demand, more activities will be centered at the landmark Polynesian palace, including symposiums, happy hours and late-night parties. This is in addition to the event’s centerpiece, the Saturday night main event featuring live bands all night long and two dinner shows starring The Mai-Kai’s vintage South Seas stage show.
* More on The Mai-Kai | Reservations and shuttles


Vendors from around the world will be on hand selling exotic art and retro merchandise. Space is limited to 32 vendors, so early reservations are encouraged.
* More on the Bazaar | Becoming a vendor

A sneak preview of Mookie Sato's glassware design.
A sneak preview of Mookie Sato's glassware design.


The Hukilau 2012 event mug is being designed and produced by Tiki Diablo, aka Danny Gallardo, a Los Angeles-based artist and carver. Special glassware is being designed by Mookie Sato, an illustrator and graphic designer from Japan. Also in the works: T-shirts, pendants, and more.


The Best Western Oceanside Inn, just steps away from Fort Lauderdale Beach, is the new host hotel. It will be the site of the Tiki Treasures Bazaar, daily activities and some of the evening celebrations. Just across Highway A1A is the Bahia Cabana Beach Resort, home to Hukilau activities for the past eight years. It will also host some day and evening events.
* More on the host hotels and to make reservations


The 2011 group shot. (Photo by
The 2011 group shot. (Photo by

A Hukilau is a traditional Hawaiian festival at which a large net is cast into the sea so the villagers can pull the catch to shore. The feast that follows signifies the spirit of family and community, or ‘ohana. This mainland Hukilau is a metaphorical net thrown out to the entire world, bringing lovers of Polynesian Pop and Tiki culture together for a very special celebration.

After debuting in 2002 in Atlanta, The Hukilau found its natural home at The Mai-Kai and Fort Lauderdale’s beachside hotels. The event was held in June in 2003, but moved to September in 2004. After being battered by Hurricane Jeanne, The Hukilau was switched to October in 2005 and 2006. In 2007, it moved back to June, where it remained through 2011. For the 11th straight year, The Hukilau is being organized and produced by co-creator and co-founder Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White.

The many performers and artists who have contributed their talents to The Hukilau include: Los Straitjackets, The Neanderthals, The Sweet Hollywaiians, The Woogles, Yma Sumac, Robert Drasnin, Tikiyaki Orchestra, Martini Kings, Waitiki, Laramie Dean, The Crazed Mugs, Haole Kats, The Disasternauts, The Exotics, Grinder Nova, The Fisherman, Josh Agle (aka Shag), Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Bosko, and Sven Kirsten.

* More Hukilau history | A look back at 2011 | The Hukilau weathers many storms

Official sites | Facebook page | Facebook group | Twitter | Flickr | YouTube
The Mai-Kai | Bahia Cabana Beach Resort | Best Western Oceanside Inn

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