Not-to-Miss Tiki Events This Summer

Florida’s Hukilau just wrapped and tiki events are in full swing for the summer. Here’s a heads-up on some of the festivities coming up — admittedly with a Southern California bias.

June 26-29 – Ohana Luau at the Lake, Lake George, NY

“The Biggest Little Event in Tiki” takes place at The Tiki Resort in Lake George, NY, a Polynesian-themed motor inn from the 1950s.

King Kukulele and the Friki Tikis

June 28 – 10th Annual Tiki Night at the Egyptian Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

The gorgeous Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood will screen the excellent documentary “Plastic Paradise: A Swingin’ Trip Through America’s Polynesian Obsession” along with some bonus tiki film clips. There will also be performances from King Kukulele & The Friki Tikis and the Polynesian Paradise Dancers in the courtyard.

Brad Parker show at La Luz de Jesus in LA

July 4 – Opening Reception for Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker’s Art Show at La Luz de Jesus, Los Angeles, CA

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker‘s tiki-influenced “low brow art” will once again grace the walls of La Luz de Jesus gallery in Los Angeles from July 4-27. The Insect Surfers will rock the opening reception on Independence Day. Also: There will be rum.

July 11-13 – Tiki Kon: Mysteries of the Deep, Portland, OR

Portland’s Tiki Kon features a line-up of surf and lounge bands, burlesque, tiki vendors, panel discussions (“Home Tiki Bar Basics”) and more.

July 19 – International Tiki Marketplace at Don the Beachcomber, Sunset Beach, CA

The International Tiki Marketplace at Don the Beachcomber is your bi-monthly opportunity to go on a serious tiki shopping spree — I know from experience. Dozens of vendors offer tiki mugs, carved tikis, art, jewelry, etc.

August 14-17 – Tiki Oasis, San Diego, CA

San Diego’s Tiki Oasis has a beatnik flavor for this 14th installment. The epic weekend features tons of bands, symposiums, burlesque, a vintage car show and much more.

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August 23-24 – Tiki Beach Festival, Long Beach, CA

It’s no competition for Tiki Oasis, but Long Beach’s Tiki Beach Festival has its charms, among them Polynesian dancing, Hawaiian food and canoe rides.

Tiki Pop exhibit in Paris

Now through September 29 – Tiki Pop Exhibition, Paris, France

The Book of Tiki author Sven Kirsten‘s special exhibit “Tiki Pop: America Imagines its own Polynesian Paradise” is now on display at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris. The accompanying book is available for pre-order and will be released on August 1.

Check out the Events Calendar section on Tiki Central for even more postings. I also tend to post about upcoming tiki events on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Posts:
Tiki Night at the Egyptian Theatre 2012: DVD of Tiki, Vol. 1
Tiki Beach Festival in Long Beach 2012

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A Tricky Trio – Players Sports Grill, Tiki Bar & Arcade, San Francisco

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On our last visit to San Francisco, Mr. Hockey found an ad in our little tourist map for Players Sports Grill & Arcade that billed it as “San Francisco’s only waterfront tiki bar.” He asked me if I knew about it and I snobbishly insisted that it couldn’t be a real tiki bar.

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Our wanderings along the Embarcadero did eventually take us to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, and Mr. Hockey wanted to see if Players was legit. I remained skeptical about a sports bar, arcade and tiki bar coexisting under one roof.

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The front area looked like your typical sports bar, but then we spotted this little kiosk with a Lono (Hawaiian tiki) and a sign pointing towards the Luau Lounge tiki bar that was 50 steps away.

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But first you have to navigate through a little labyrinth of video games and skee ball to the back of the establishment. (I suppose if you have kids you could let them loose here while you go enjoy a drink?)

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Coincidentally they even have an arcade game that features Moai among the graphics. Cruis’n Exotica — no relation to the musical genre, as far as I can tell — is the 1999 sequel to the racing games Cruis’n USA and Cruis’n World. Alas, it doesn’t look like Easter Island is one of the available tracks.

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Maybe it’s the obscure location but the Luau Lounge was a surprisingly serene oasis in the middle of this tourist trap area. Not too many folks had ventured back there that afternoon and there was vintage and modern jazz on the soundspeakers.

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Once you pass the tikis standing sentinel at the bar’s entrance, you’ll find a thatched hut bar in the center of the room manned by a bartender in a Hawaiian shirt.

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My expectations had been quite low so I was a bit surprised to see that the decor was actually pretty decent, with tapa print and bamboo on the walls, fish float and pufferfish lanterns, and prints of Eugene Savage’s Hawaii-inspired art. These were featured on the menus for the Matson Lines steamships traveling from the West Coast to Hawaii in the late 1940s. (You might also recognize them from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel — or that “Mad Men” episode filmed there.

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To top it all off, there are fantastic views of Alcatraz and the bay from pretty much every seat in the house.

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But then things took a turn for the worse when I opened the cocktail menu. Granted, most places that serve Mai Tais don’t make them the way Trader Vic intended, but to call these “Tiki Classics” is too much.

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At least they delivered the Mai Tai ($11) in a tiki glass, though. We also had to order the appropriately named Cruzan Confusion ($11) because it sounded like such an abomination of a beverage. Made with pineapple juice and four flavored Cruzan rums, it reminded me of those “suicide” fountain drinks we’d make as kids by mixing all the different sodas together.

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Normally I wouldn’t advocate drinking beer at a tiki bar, but here that may be your best bet. There are about a dozen options on draft, including local brews like Anchor Steam ($6) and a few rotating seasonal taps.

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With so many great tiki bars in the San Francisco/Bay Area (Smuggler’s Cove, Tonga Room, Trader Vic’s, Forbidden Island), I can’t honestly recommend going out of your way for the Luau Lounge at Players Sports Grill. However, if you’re already at Fisherman’s Wharf anyway, you could do worse!

Players Sports Grill, Tiki Bar & Arcade
Pier 39
San Francisco, CA 94133
451-981-6300

Related Posts:
Reviews of Tiki Bars in San Francisco

Another Tiki Find at Anthropologie: Tropical Drink Umbrella Card by Dear Hancock

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My preferred shopping destination Anthropologie has been a surprising source of tiki-inspired things. There was my Kon-Tiki dress and tapa print skirt, and now the store has introduced me to the stationery company Dear Hancock. Among their designs is this cute birthday card with tropical drink umbrellas and a few little plastic swords for good measure.

These little cocktail parasols seem to have fallen out of favor with some tiki bars, like Smuggler’s Cove. Perhaps because tiki drinks have already had a tough enough time being taken seriously until somewhat recently? Or maybe because they’ve moved on to more advanced garnishes like dolphins carved out of bananas?

At any rate, this hand-painted rendering makes these drink umbrellas look quite beautiful. I think I have a new appreciation for them!

The Birthday Umbrellas card is available on Dear Hancock’s web site for $4.50.