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Tiki Central / General Tiki

Filling in the Pre-Tiki Bar cracks

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A few posts ago, it was mentioned that Trader Vic's was well established before the thought of a purely 'Tiki' Bar had wormed it's way into the consciousness of the post-war bar-owner/capitalist. A quick look at 'The Book' will reveal a couple of big names which pushed the crossover from South Seas influenced bars to the true Tiki bars.

The pre-Tiki stuff is often neglected, though, and it must be worth a thread to mention anything early that can be dug up that can help to understand the early days.

My 2 cents -

Trader Woody

[ Edited by: Trader Woody on 2002-09-14 15:54 ]

The pre-Tiki era is a fascinating one. Starting somewhere in the mid-1920s, you find college boys in fraternity pictures playing ukelele's. This seems to coincide with the onslaught of advertisements and Hawaiian sheet music in the U.S. By the end of the '20s and especially in the 1930s, many 78-R.P.M. sets of Hawaiian music have Tikis on the cover. Recently at UCLA, Vitaphone showed a seven minute clip of a Hawaiian troupe captured on celluloid from 1927. While the group were real Hawaiians, they were flanked by roaring '20s gals with blond hair, mixing nightclub dance with Hula.

The other fascinating side of pre-Tiki is the 20th Century aesthetic fascintion by non-Natives of Native culture. Man-Ray, Picasso and Gauguin all have great pre-Tiki examples and prints are not hard to find at all.

Of course WW2 and Thor Heyderdal put it all together for the blue collars (non-college, non-artist types) and it not only became a fascination for the cerebral refinement, but also for the working class... and that is when Tiki enters the mainstream. The pre-Tiki stuff somehow seems less tacky, but not less intriguing.


Look for a book called, "How Daddy Became a Beachcomber." My aunt wrote it. It's been out of circulation for quite some time but there are a few around. Otto sent me a signed copy of it that my own family didn't even have! It has a lot of pre-tiki info and is all true. My mom is the Elf!

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