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Mai-Kai history event joins the party as inaugural Mod Weekend kicks into gear

Mod Weekend, the March 15-17 celebration of Fort Lauderdale’s mid-century architecture and style, is shaping up to be a whirlwind of activity with several events selling out and additional activities added to the mix, including Saturday’s “Mai-Kai: History, Mystery and Adventure” seminar.

The Mai-Kai under construction in 1956
The Mai-Kai under construction in 1956. (Photo courtesy of The Mai-Kai)

While not officially part of Mod Weekend, the presentation by Mai-Kai historian Tim “Swanky” Glazner will fit right in with the theme of recognizing the historical significance of this Polynesian treasure, which was built in 1956. The restaurant’s Molokai lounge will open at 2 p.m. for a special happy hour, followed by the narrated, multimedia slideshow at 3 p.m. in the grand showroom. Seats are limited, so call (954) 563-3272, ext. 1, to make a reservation. Admission is free.
* The Mai-Kai’s Facebook event

The event will also be a reunion for Mai-Kai “veterans,” with many former employees who worked there as far back as the 1950s expected to be on hand. On Sunday, Mod Weekend returns to The Mai-Kai on its double-decker bus tour. The first tour was sold out, so a second has been added, according to the official website. The tour will include another presentation by Glazner as well as a walking tour of The Mai-Kai’s extensive dining rooms, gardens, and Polynesian artifacts. The weekend’s festivities wrap up Sunday night with a closing party at The Mai-Kai at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 for the bus tour and $25 for the closing party. Go to ModWeekend.com for the latest information on tickets and availability.

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New event celebrates Fort Lauderdale’s mid-century modern architecture, style

Update: Mai-Kai history event joins the party as inaugural Mod Weekend kicks into gear

Interest in classic mid-century design and style has been building for decades, coinciding with a general distaste among many for the throw-away culture of the late 20th century that continues unabated. At the core of the modern esthetic is the one-of-a-kind architectural movement that followed World War II and flourished until the upheaval of the late 1960s.

Mod Weekend

This golden age of style coincided with other classic movements – such as Tiki, Googie and Atomic Age – all morphing into one gigantic era that arguably produced mankind’s first true culture of cool. It took the success of TV’s Mad Men to bring “mod” style to the 21st century masses, but support from an enthusiastic core of supporters has never waned.

In Palm Springs, Calif., arguably ground zero for vintage mid-century modern architecture in the United States, the eighth annual Modernism Week is in the midst of an 11-day celebration expected to draw more than 25,000 retro enthusiasts. Featuring bus tours, cocktail parties, lectures and films, Modernism Week is billed as “the only such event in the country.”

That distinction ends in March, when Mod Weekend makes its debut in Fort Lauderdale. Like California, Florida is a treasure trove of shining examples of the movement. Both experienced construction booms during the ’50s and ’60s, the height of the era. And Fort Lauderdale, like Palm Springs, is a hotspot for mid-century style, from its distinctive beachfront hotels to its vintage housing developments.

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