I was sipping a Mai-Tai at Foundation with my good friend Lisa. Lisa loves Disney World and was excited about her upcoming trip to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. She has a family and everyone is coming along!
Now, Lisa lives in Milwaukee and what I’ve heard is that Cancun is the most popular tropical destination for Mid-Westerners. I asked Lisa what she thought about traveling to Cancun for vacation. She said she would much rather vacation at Disney. What about the Caribbean, or the Florida Keys for that matter? Lisa still preferred Disney. Lisa had my curiosity now. Why would she prefer somewhere that is completely made up over going to an actual tropical destination?
Jim “Hurricane” Hayward enjoys one of the Mai-Kai’s “lost cocktails” in the Molokai Bar during a book release party for Tim “Swanky” Glazner’s Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of The Iconic Tiki Restaurant in September. (Photo by Susan Hayward)
When I was younger and playing in punk bands, I learned really quickly that if you wanted things to happen, you had to do it yourself. Want to play a show? Set one up yourself. Want to read about the bands you liked? Start a fanzine. Want to make record? Start your own label! DIY.
Back in the day, the only Tiki show in town was Tiki Oasis, which took place in California. That’s great, but what if you lived on the other side of the country? Well, if you’re Christie White, aka Tiki Kiliki, you set up your own Tiki celebration! That’s exactly what Christie did when she created Hukilau and it has grown bigger and bigger each year. This is Christie’s story…
You don’t know what humidity is until you go to Florida.
I just touched down in Fort Lauderdale and it’s so humid here that my glasses fog up as soon as I go outside. I flew in from Seattle on a six-hour flight and I’m here to do two things: visit the legendary Mai Kai and reconnect with my friend Dave who I haven’t seen since the early ’90s. Back in the day, we were heavily into skateboarding and punk rock. Time passed. I grew up to be a guy who blogs about Tiki bars and Dave became a professional photographer (Gittleman Studios). I made an offer to Dave: if he could take some pictures of the Mai Kai for me, I would pay for his drinks. It was a deal!
Head on down to the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale, FL and for less than $15, you can be entertained by the Polynesian Islander Revue. The show is almost two hours of non-stop music, dancing, fire dancing and more! The coolest thing is you get to learn about Polynesian culture as you enjoy the show, eat, and drink. It doesn’t get much better than this. My buddy Dave Gittleman is a professional photographer and he got a ton of great shots of the show. Here’s a little taste of the action on stage at the Mai Kai!
I live in Seattle. I booked a flight and flew six hours across the country to go to the Mai Kai. Why? Because when it comes to Tiki bars, the Mai Kai is it! My visit to the Mai Kai lasted five hours and I could have stayed longer. What is so special about the Mai Kai you may ask? Well, let’s start from the beginning…