Minimalist Tiki

The Hukilau announces six historic symposiums, ticket sales for June event in Fort Lauderdale

Tickets are now on sale for The Hukilau, the June 10-14 gathering of Polynesian Pop enthusiasts in Fort Lauderdale that boasts an impressive lineup of six symposiums by noted authors, artists and filmmakers. The 14th annual event will also include more live music, artists and vendors than ever before, plus a one-of-a-kind cocktail experience.

February update: The Hukilau welcomes Tiki’s top bartenders, Dawn Wells
Order now: Event passes and tickets, hotel reservations at
See below: Tickets and schedule | Symposiums | Entertainers

The Hukilau

The five days of activities will be headquartered at a new host hotel, the iconic Pier 66, a mid-century landmark that towers 17 stories above the south end of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Events will also be held at The Mai-Kai, the historic Tiki restaurant that has been home base for The Hukilau since 2003.

The Hukilau: June 10-14, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Musical guests and performers: Alika Lyman Group, The Intoxicators, Gold Dust Lounge, Pablus, Slip and the Spinouts, Kinky Waikiki, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, King Kukulele. Symposium presenters: Arthur Dong, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller, Domenic Priore, Jeff Chenault, Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener.
* Latest updates: The Hukilau on Facebook | The Atomic Grog: The Week in Tiki

Tiki history is the focus of six special symposiums just announced for The Hukilau this year. Topics include idolized mid-century attractions such as Disney World’s original Polynesian Village Resort, Florida’s Tiki Gardens, Southern California’s Pacific Ocean Park, and The Kahiki supper club in Ohio.

Modern Caribbean Rum
The Hyatt Regency Pier 66
The Hyatt Regency Pier 66 overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale.

As usual, an eclectic lineup of musical acts has been assembled to keep the party lively. The Alika Lyman Group features the Hawaii-born nephew of exotica legend Arthur Lyman, performing a musical tribute that ranges from exotica to jazz to classic Hawaiian. Also performing will be Tallahassee instrumental surf stalwarts The Intoxicators, Miami surf-spy-jazz combo Gold Dust Lounge, Georgia’s loungy Hawaiian music group Kinky Waikiki, Tiki-inspired singer-songwriter Pablus from Tampa, and South Florida roots rockers Slip and the Spinouts. And it wouldn’t’ be The Hukilau without master of ceremonies King Kukulele and a performance or two by Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid.

One of The Hukilau’s most anticipated events is sure to be a “Tiki Tower Takeover” featuring cocktail author and historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and some very special guests in the hotel’s signature revolving Pier Top Ballroom on Thursday, June 11. The venue, which turns 360 degrees every 66 minutes, offers spectacular views of the Fort Lauderdale skyline and Atlantic Ocean. He will be joined by some of Tiki’s top barmen: Martin Cate (owner of Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco), Paul McGee (creator of Lost Lake, formerly with Three Dots and a Dash, Chicago), and Brian Miller (“Tiki Mondays With Miller,” New York City).

The Alika Lyman Group
The Alika Lyman Group will be making their first appearance at The Hukilau in 2015.

Berry, a longtime symposium presenter at The Hukilau and author of the award-winning Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them, recently opened his first Tiki bar, Latitude 29 in New Orleans. In addition to the Tiki Takeover, Berry will also be teaming up with Miller, the infamous “Tiki pirate,” for a special symposium on the history and influence of the Planter’s Punch. Details on the Tiki Takeover will be announced soon.

The Hukilau is the heartbeat of the Tiki scene on the U.S. East Coast. Co-founder and organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White was prepared to make last year’s event the grand finale, but a new partnership has enabled her to not only keep the event alive, but has also given her the ability to move to Pier 66 and consider similar pop-up events across the country. [See past story]

The anchor and lifeblood of The Hukilau continues to be The Mai-Kai, the 58-year-old Polynesian Palace that inspired the event to move from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale for its second gathering in 2003. It’s considered one of the few remaining vintage mid-century Tiki establishments in the world.

With the revival of mid-20th century Tiki style now well into its second decade and showing no signs of slowing down, it’s clear that most of today’s enthusiasts have adopted this as their way of life, not simply a fad. At The Hukilau, they come from around the world to meet like-minded Tikiphiles, learn and share knowledge, and immerse themselves in their own version of paradise.

* Previous coverage: The Hukilau is movin’ on up …. to the landmark Pier 66 hotel

Plan your trip, get your tickets and passes now

A welcome banner at The Hukilau 2014
A welcome banner at The Hukilau 2014 in Fort Lauderdale. (Photo by Go11 Media)

All passes and tickets for the event, symposiums and special events are sold a la carte. You can plan your weekend however you wish. Prices range from $155 for a Big Kahuna Pass (which includes admission to all for five days, not including symposiums and special events) to $25 for Sunday’s finale. Other one-day tickets are $55 for Thursday and $65 for Friday. There’s also the Aloha Pass ($130) and Luau Pass ($115), which include access for specific days and events. All symposium tickets are a la carte and start at $25.

Tickets and passes are refundable until April 1, when the prices of all passes will increase. After April 1, tickets and passes are non-refundable but can be transferred. The Hukilau is a rain-or-shine event.
* Place your order now at

The full schedule is still in the works, but a general day-by-day breakdown is listed below. More events are expected to be announced soon, including Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s “Tiki Tower Takeover.”

***** DAILY SCHEDULE *****
* Wednesday Night: Pre-Party in The Molokai lounge at the Mai-Kai.
* Thursday-Saturday: Tiki Treasures Bazaar and symposiums at Pier 66.
* Thursday: Kickoff Party, After Party, Tiki Tower Takeover at Pier 66.
* Friday: Main Event and After Party at Pier 66.
* Sunday: Finale at The Mai-Kai.

As a perk for those who buy the Big Kahuna, Aloha and Luau passes, The Hukilau will provide free transportation to the Wednesday and Saturday scheduled events at The Mai-Kai, which is around 6 miles from the hotel and also easily accessible via taxi or ride-sharing services.

Symposiums feature noted Tiki cocktail author, Disney artists

Here’s the lineup of symposiums that are now on sale. Tickets can sell out, so don’t hesitate to order your tickets.

Jeff "Beachbum" Berry presents a symposium at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau in June 2014
Jeff “Beachbum” Berry presents a symposium at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau in June 2014. (Photo by Go11 Media)

* “Brigands, Barons & Beachcombers: The Many Faces of Planter’s Punch.” Host Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, one of Tiki’s most well-known historians and author of six cocktail books, is joined by New York City Tiki torchbearer Brian Miller for an in-depth look at the Caribbean classic that serves as the template for most great vintage tropical drinks, from the Mai Tai to the Zombie. Berry, making his 10th appearance at The Hukilau, also owns and operates Latitude 29, an exotic cocktail lounge and restaurant in New Orleans. Miller hosts the long-running Tiki Mondays With Miller events at cocktail bars throughout the Big Apple.

* “Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily present: Prefeb Paradise.” The artists known for their retro-themed creations and collaborations with Disney take guests back to the 1970s for a virtual vacation at the resort once touted by Disney marketing as a “prefab paradise,” Walt Disney World’s original Polynesian Village.

* “Arthur Dong presents: Forbidden City, USA – Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970.” Oscar-nominated filmmaker and writer Arthur Dong spent more than 30 years chronicling this forgotten chapter of entertainment history.

Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily
Kevin Kidney (right) and Jody Daily

* “Domenic Priore presents: Pacific Ocean Park.” A look back at the nautical-themed amusement park (1958-1967), built on a pier in Santa Monica, Calif., as an alternative to Disneyland. Priore is the author of Pacific Ocean Park: The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles’ Space Age Nautical Pleasure Pier.

* “Jeff Chenault presents: The Kahiki: Crown Jewel of Polynesian Supper Clubs.” One of the authors of a new book on the late, great Columbus, Ohio, restaurant will take you on a visual history tour of one of the most extravagant of the grand South Seas supper clubs.

* “Jon Bortles & Tiki Gardener present: They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot: The story of Tiki Gardens.” An inside look at the Polynesian theme park on Florida’s Gulf Coast that opened in 1964 and closed in the 1980s. The two avid Tiki archaeologists are writing a book about the vintage roadside attraction.

Entertainment includes exotica, jazz, surf and rockabilly bands

The Intoxicators perform at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau in June 2014
The Intoxicators perform at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau in June 2014. (Photo by Go11 Media)

Here’s a rundown on the entertainment lineup announced so far:

* Alika Lyman Group – Paying tribute to his uncle, exotica pioneer Arthur Lyman, Alika Lyman has just released Leis of Jazz, Vol. 2. His group’s repertoire floats seamlessly between vintage-tinged combo jazz , classic exotica, and Hawaiian classics. The band, which includes some top musicians in today’s exotica scene, will headline Friday night’s Main Event at Pier 66.

* The Intoxicators – A mainstay at The Hukilau since 2005, this Tallahassee-based trio plays a powerful blend of classic surf, rockabilly, and pure guitar-driven instrumental rock. You can also expect the band’s alter ego, simian surf band The Disasternauts, to join the party.

* Gold Dust Lounge – Riding a wave of acclaim for the new Lost Sunset album, the group led by Miami guitarist Russell Mofsky takes familiar sounds and bends them into something that reverberates with the wild and exotic, from surf to spy jazz.

Gold Dust Lounge at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau in June 2014
Gold Dust Lounge at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau in June 2014. (Photo by Go11 Media)

* Kinky Waikiki – Swaggering out of Athens, Ga., this steel guitar based instrumental group takes cocktail hour to the next level with an intoxicating mix of exotica and hapa-haole, flavored with lounge and surf. The band released their own self-titled album last year after their first appearance at The Hukilau.

* Slip and the Spinouts – Regulars on the Florida bar circuit and favorites at The Mai-Kai, this hard-working band plays an eclectic blend of rockabilly, Western swing, surf, old country, blues, and roots music that includes both originals and their own takes on popular classics.

* Pablus – This Tampa singer, multi-instrumentalist and leader of the Tiki band The Crazed Mugs will return with his intimate solo performances on the ukulele. His unique songs and stories reminisce about all things Tiki, from the mountains and gardens of Hawaii to his favorite bars.

* King Kukulele – When comedian, actor and ukuleleist Denny Moynahan dons his straw hat, Hawaiian shirt, grass skirt and lei, he becomes one of the most recognizable figures on the Tiki scene for the past decade. Master of ceremonies of The Hukilau since the beginning, King Kukulele reigns with an infectious energy while performing his signature hapa haole and novelty songs.

* Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid (Medusirena): The retro-aquatic performer and fire dancer also known as Marina Duran-Anderson is famous for her weekly swim shows with fellow “mermaids” that can be viewed through the portholes in the historic Wreck Bar at the Yankee Clipper hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach (now known as the B Ocean Resort). Marina, who also specializes in vaudeville/burlesque dancing with a touch of retro-Poly Pop, is making her ninth appearance at The Hukilau.

The Hukilau enters a new era in 2015

The Hukilau is a five-day Tiki festival held in America’s vacationland that honors The Mai-Kai and celebrates both the history and modern revival of mid-century Polynesian Pop culture. The event draws up to 1,200 people a year from all over the globe who are attracted by the carefully curated lineup of bands, symposiums and unique personal experiences.

Artist Crazy Al Evans (left), emcee King Kukulele and Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid at The Hukilau 2015
Artist Crazy Al Evans (left), emcee King Kukulele and Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid at The Hukilau 2014. (Photo by Go11 Media)

A “Hukilau” is a traditional Hawaiian festival at which villagers cast a large net into the sea to bring a wide assortment of fish to shore. It’s followed by a feast that celebrates the spirit of ‘ohana, or family and community. The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale was designed as a modern equivalent that attracts lovers of Tiki culture from all over the world for a unique vintage-styled celebration.

The Hukilau has braved hurricanes, hotel changes and economic upheaval to leave a lasting impact on the modern Tiki scene. The event played a role in the re-institution of the mermaid shows at the Yankee Clipper and helped rejuvenate interest in the historic Mai-Kai. The Hukilau has proudly kept Polynesian Pop’s past alive and well, while also stirring interest among a new generation of talented artisans, performers, mixologists, and enthusiasts from all walks of life.

The Hukilau nearly ended last year, but just months before bidding farewell, co-founder and organizer Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White was approached by two businessmen who were looking to invest in a Tiki event. They had attended The Hukilau as fans and recognized its potential. It didn’t hurt that it was also their favorite of all the events they went to. With their backing, White is now poised to keep the event alive and thriving.

The Hukilau official links
* | Facebook page | Facebook group | Twitter | YouTube
Official photos | Flickr | Instagram

Official venue sites
* | Facebook page | Flickr
* | Facebook page

More on The Atomic Grog
* The Hukilau is movin’ on up …. to the landmark Pier 66 hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach
* Following ‘magical’ 2014, Tiki Kiliki has big plans for The Hukilau in 2015 and beyond
* Past photo recaps of The Hukilau: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009
* Full coverage of The Hukilau
* The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide | All Mai-Kai posts

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