There’s nothing like getting a bunch of swingin’ kats and kittens together with island music, vintage threads and lots of rum. Well kids, let me tell you, his year’s Hukilau didn’t disappoint. From tattooed chicks in short skirts and flower leis to guys wearing palm tree shirts and short-brimmed fedoras, the eclectic crowd that swamped Fort Lauderdale was more fun than a barrel of fez-wearing monkeys.
If you’ve been to an event like this (or to this one) you know how much fun can be packed into a couple of rum-drenched days. If you haven’t then you should definitely plan to. Our presence at the event was truncated due to a busy work schedule, but we still had a fantastic time on Friday night, Saturday and Saturday night.
Friday evening started with stop at a new retro-style bar in Fort Lauderdale, the Moneterey Club. What a krazy place that was! Hooked onto the side of a Tiki-themed tattoo parlor (which features some of the best original retro tattoo art I’ve ever seen, think Sailor Jerry) this joint was small but full of life. From the Tiki masks and other fun stuff hanging from the walls to the antique cigarette machine to the half-dozen hot rods parked out front, the place was kool as hell. And I actually got to order a Pabst Blue Ribbon.
An hour later we squeezed our way into the Wreck Bar at the Yankee Clipper for the mermaid show. The place was packed with Tikiphiles and hotel guests who were wondering what on Earth was going on, with all these Hawaiian shirts crowding the bar. Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid came out and the bar went nutz with applause. She was joined by (at least) three of her lovely mermaid friends, who performed the best show I’ve seen there yet. The Crazy Al jumped in the pool with the ladies, taking his skull-shaped Tiki mug with him, and the laughs came on hard and fast.
After a bite to eat at a small place with broken AC (eek!) we walked over to Bahia Mar for the Friday Night Main Event. The Stolen Idols were already playing when we got there, setting a nice mysterious exotic island mood. We wandered the bazaar, checking out art by Shag and the koolest of kool carvings by my buddy Tiki Hana. There was a lot of fantastic vintage stuff around too, and we picked up a few goodies to take back to the Tiki Bar.
After The Stolen Idols went off, King Kukulele entertained the crowd with his fun brand of Tiki comedy. Then The Sweet Hollywiians took the stage, straight from Japan and straight out of 1935. They looked the part and sounded great, and when Marina joined them for a Hula dance the crowd went wild (that doll can sure get a crowd going, let me tell you!) We bowed out before the Neanderthals came on, but I hear from good sources they were fantastic.
On Saturday we slept late (a little too late) and made it back to Bahia Mar just in time to see Duda Leite’s Tikimentary: In Search of Lost Paradise. What a fantastic flick this kat from swingin’ Brasil put together for us Tiki lovers, with clips featuring the Mai Kai, The Hukilau, Tiki Oasis, Ohana Luau on the Lake and the kool kats and kittens that make it all happen, along with some interview from other krazy Tiki & retro lovers like. After the movie my wife Colleen and I got to meet Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid in person, which was very kool.
Saturday night came the one of the biggest highlights of the event…Dinner and show at the world famous Mai Kai Polynesian Restaurant. We got a group of friends together, three of which had never been to this historic joint. We showed up at 8:15 and the place was so crowded valet parking was full and you couldn’t get a drink in the Molokai Bar, but we didn’t wait too long to get seated and the fun began from there. Mai Tais, Zombies, Rum Barrels, all kinds of exotic cocktails came across our table, then the incredible food…from kabobs to lobster bisque, and flaming Bananas Bengali for dessert. Just as dessert came the show started, and my non-Tiki friends were in awe.
From the Hula girls through the fire dancers, we sat mesmerized at this gig. Just soaking in all that 55-year-old atmosphere, sitting in that big part of our history and watching that show done pretty much the same way it’s always been done was a real treat. We finished off our drinks just as the last dancer was exiting the stage. After that we took a stroll through the gardens, still mysterious and beautiful even though high-rise buildings now surround them. We finished off the evening with a trip to the gift shop, where I of course had to pick up a Tiki Mug (kind of like when you’re a kid, and you always got a toy when you went somewhere with your Grandparents). As luck would have it, the incredible Tiki artist Shag and Otto von Stroheim of Tiki Oasis happened to be standing out in front of the gift shop, so I got to say hello. Then a few minutes later Tiki Hana spotted me and said hi, (hadn’t seen him since last year). It was a very groovy day, to say the least.
Below are the photos we took. I put them in a slideshow to make it easier. After all the rum, I just ain’t got the energy to lay them all out!
Here are some photos of the Mai Kai I took. Not the best quality, but hey, this was after two Mai Tais and a Zombie!
Here’s a short video of Marina and her beautiful mermaids swimming at the Wreck Bar at the Yankee Clipper on Friday, June 11, 2010 during the special show for the Hukilau!