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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

Tiki Central / General Tiki


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I think for us that the "fad" part of tiki is going to hurt us more than benefit us. The people that know learn about the tiki without finding out on their own the more watered down the movement becomes. When only a few people know about it people figure they like it because they like the style not because it is hip or trendy. People have more respect for the tiki movement. Take for example the Grunge movement. When the Grunge movement started out it was small and relatively pure. When it got popular it became exploited and lost meaning. This caused the downfall of Grunge (also Kurt Cobain killing himself also was a large blow). Now Parts of grunge are coming back but not in mainstream light. I think it's best if we keep tiki in the shadow coveted among the people who love it best.

So here is a question, since we are currently in the second (or is it third?) revival of Tiki interest, how do we ourselves keep from being trendy? I was not alive during the days before Capt. Cook brought the demise of Kapu system. Then the were two revivals (or one long one that had waves of popularity) between the 20's and 70's. So what to do? The reason there are Tiki mugs, Exotica Music and places like Oceanic Arts, Trader Vics, Etc. is directly due to the overwhelming commercialization of Tiki these first times around. It is a tricky one. When I started "collecting" Tiki stuff in 92, I had no idea anyone else even liked the stuff, or that there was a "scene", but some say by then it was already over.

When I started "collecting" Tiki stuff in 92, I had no idea anyone else even liked the stuff, or that there was a "scene", but some say by then it was already over.

Funny you should mention that. I read somewhere that there were people who were collecting this stuff since the early to mid eighties - in the Miami Vice decade! With all that New Wave, Pastel Clothing and Glass Cube in fashion, those early collectors must have looked like outcasts.

I started collecting Hawaiiana around 1989-1990 and started collecting Tikis around 1993. I too, had no idea there was a "scene" - I just liked the stuff. And like you, I too, heard from someone that the glory days of collecting Tiki were over. I guess the days of abundant quantities of tikis lying in wait at thrift stores were gone by this time.


I've always had interest in tiki because my parents took us kids to polynesian restaurants (in matching outfits mind you) My first mug came from their garage (Mr. Bali Hai, and a suffering bottle in box) and they have several that they will not let me have until my Mom dies. She said to put my name on them. My stylish parents got me into collecting palms and cycads also. I guess it all goes with a tropical theme. On their first date my Dad stole a mug for my Mom (the bartender wouldn't sell one)

Like I've always said, I love all the new tiki crap but treasure my vintage pieces. I have this question for you Talkie Tiki (and your name always makes me laugh-that's one of my favorite episodes)
How do you keep something from becoming popular? I would guess by not buying any new stuff or old for that matter, supply and demand. Do you have any new tiki junk? It is out of our control. Just be glad you snapped up some things before the price hikes. Fads come and go and come back again. I think to most of us, it is deeper than a fad that brought us here.

[ Edited by: Laney on 2002-09-26 20:07 ]

I always dug tiki bars & there always seemed to be so many around when I was growing up. I always dug the dark, mysterious tropical interiors & the strong assed drinks full of fruit & umbrellas that seemed so harmless, yet knocked you on your ass!

I took a date to the Mermaid Room when I was 15! My parents drove us there!
My parents thought it was hilarious & more of an experiment: they didnt think we'd get through the door, much less get served.
We got served alright & pissed drunk!
I borrowed one of my dads' turtleneck sweaters to look older & more sophisticated.(ha!)
I wish I had photos of that night.
This fueled my confidence alot because I started taking dates to the Lanai in San Mateo as soon as I could drive & can't remember ever getting turned away. I think they needed the business.

They never seemed to card anyone.
I even went to the Tonga Room on prom night.
We always had pilfered souvenirs around: mugs, fishbowls full of matches, swizzles, ect.
I guess I started keeping these things soon after the Lanai closed down around 1990-91.


Be it fad or not, I love the Polynesian culture. Even if it becomes a victim of the big commercial exploitation, I will still love it. If Tiki is in fact a fad, then like all fads it will fade away in the shimmering twilight. At this point, people will point us collectors out and we will become the butt of the joke (Like people who still wear once popular clothing, long after the fad has ended). I think the question is this... If Tiki becomes "The Next Big Thing" (again), who will jump off the train? Much like Grunge music, or any other music fad for that matter, the fan base starts out small. The sad irony is once the fad catches on and becomes mainstream or commercial, the original fan base loses interest... Why? Some will totally abandon their ambitions for this very fact. Don't get me wrong, being a part of a small low key/intimate group is a treasure, but if things go commercial (which I don't see happening) the true aficionados will know who they are, and each other. Rest assured, I think were a long way off from the McTiki Happy Meal.... We Tiki people know who each other are, and we'll always know how to make a better drink.

Till next time, keep the ice cold and the blender warm.

[ Edited by: tikilee on 2002-09-26 19:53 ]

[ Edited by: tikilee on 2002-09-26 19:54 ]

and they said Punk Rock was a fad.........

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