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London's new Tiki bar

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Honest, Trader Woody, I wasn't trying to throw you off the scent! (see below)

As some of you will know, rumours have been doing the rounds for some time about a planned new Tiki bar in Kennington (South London, England). The creator is a guy called Heilco van der Ploeg, impresario of the lengendary, long-running Club Montepulciano (lounge/cabaret club), and the bar is called South London Pacific (340 Kennington Road, London SE11, Kennington tube, tel 020 7820 9189).

Well... quite by chance (HONEST) this Saturday I drove past the venue, which has been under construction for a while, and spoke to a builder who was stripping paint off the outside. He said it was opening the next day. This seemed extremely unlikely, but we turned up... and there it is in all its glory; an uncompromisingly gorgeous Josh Colllins creation. It looks a hundred years old and the detailing is beautiful, as you'd expect from Mr Collins (who is, as I understand it, emigrating to Oz to build a Tiki theme park).

How to describe it? It's quite large and is comprised of different sections with varying degrees of intimacy, including a stage and small dancefloor, surrounding a central bar. Tikis, naked wahines, crocodile skins and skeletons of all descriptions abound. The furniture, and the bar, is of course bamboo. I could only stay a short while so only managed two cocktails -- the "Trader Vic's Mai-Tai" and the "Pago-Pago" -- both dangerously good, and reasonably priced. And you can drink 'em in tiki mugs -- provided you can leave a pounds 7.50 deposit (which will also buy you the mug if you so desire). Only problem with the feel of the place was that it was a bit (physically, not atmospherically) cold -- but then, it was empty.

As we walked in, Heilco turned around and asked us if we would like him to change the Hawaiian music. After agitatedly assuring him that he should not change it, ever, we got chatting. He doesn't seem to have done any publicity for the place, and we were the only customers the whole time I was there. This worries the hell out of me, as Kennington, whilst an up-and-coming area, is about 1 mile out of central London and is mainly lived in by parliamentarians. The pub used to be a rather scruffy gay bar which I don't think encouraged passing trade at all, and the exterior of the bar as it stands wouldn't encourage anyone to think anything had changed. Heilco has a great audience in the Club Montepulciano crowd and I'm surprised that he's not made more of an effort to push it to them -- but I'm sure he will. He has plans for a house band (probably comprised of members of the Club Montepulciano house band -- v. good) and will be doing food -- tiki tapas!

So -- this place exceeded my most hopeful expectations; it's truly beautiful and I urge anyone within 100 miles of the place to get down there and support it. Trader Woody, Tiki Chris -- what about you guys? Are you up for coming down either Friday or Saturday this weekend? (I might finally get to meet you). Anyway, if anyone is up for it please email me off-line and we'll work something out.

great review!

unfortunately, i'm going to spain on thursday & won't be able to make it to the bar. wait a second...forget about this being unfortunate - i'm stoked as hell about my upcoming trip & hope to check out trader vic's marbella & possibly discover some other tiki bars.

that being said, i'm bummed that it's now going to be a couple of weeks before i get to see the place. i'm mega-busy this week, tying up extremely loose ends before my trip.

i could & would have gone this weekend (actually rode through the kennington tube on the way to brixton & wondered about the status of the tiki bar). oh well...bummer to hear about the lack of publicity.

i'd love to see you there at a later date,
tiki chris

i could make it down to kennington for a rendevous practically any day from saturday april 6 to friday april 12.


well, I'm up for as many visits as possible (12 April sounds very possible, for example) -- so, anybody else who might be interested, come back to me with your availability and I'll sort it out accordingly.
By the way, I should point out that the naked wahines I mention are NOT REAL...

It's superb news that it's now open, though it's not even mentioned on the Club M site yet. Perhaps they suddenly thought, 'Hey we're finished...let's just open the doors and do a proper opening next week.

April 6th sounds like an ideal day for a visit to me, as this weekend is going to be pretty busy.

2 Tiki bars in London....who'd a thunk it!
Trader Woody


Well, if the can keep it going until late Dec or Jan of next year...I'll check it out.
My London trips keep getting postponed; I will make it, though!

Someone get to Marylebone Lane and Fedex me some fish/chips! It's worth airfare to London just for that fish.

Cheers to all UK tiki-philes. One more reason to love England, they have some Tiki!...was going to make a "France" joke here, but thought better.

Hee hee, midnite

so april 6?
april 12?
either work for me.

:drink: tiki chris :drink:

sounds like April 6 to me. Let's take the arrangements off-line. Anyone else who wants to come along -- drop me a mail and we'll set a time. And Midnite Tiki -- get yourself over here!

Well, I'm only going for the 6th because it's the closest date that we might all be able to make it, but if the 12th is easier, that's fine by me.

By the way, what are the mugs like? Do you know if they have been specially made, or are they 'off the shelf'?

I can't wait to go!!
Trader Woody

The tiki mugs proper are very much off the shelf -- and as far as I saw there were only a few of them (there was also a larger collection of bamboo mugs). The tiki mugs that I can remember were (and I will fall down on this as I am no sort of an expert) -- a grass-skirted wahine in relief on a kind of bamboo-style Toby jug shape (seen this one on ebay a few times), something green and Shecky-shaped, but rather more old-fashioned, and something ghastly that looked like it should hold toothbrushes in my granny's bathroom, with a pallid hula maiden just discernible amid the pastel swirls. Oh yes, also a sweet little brown shooter tiki(no good to me). Nothing to get too excited about -- but it's the thought that counts...

Trader Woody, I've emailed you and Chris with details of date, time, place etc. Roll on April 6th!

Here's the logo. Love the mixture of Tiki & London tube sign! Genius.


Trader Woody

I dropped in last night (as I plan to tonight, and tomorrow, and next week...) and the manager told me they are starting food next Sunday, i.e. 7th April (the day after our visit -- damn) -- but that they would be doing a tasting session for customers THIS Sunday (Easter Sun) -- which, annoyingly, I can't make. He also enlarged on entertainment plans, although he was vague on dates -- when we go down we'll have DJs, the house band AND either a Shirley Bassey impersonator (Marshall Starr -- I've seen her and she is AMAZING -- and I say that having seen the real thing live as well) or an Elvis impersonator. They'll charge a couple of quid on the door after 9:30pm at weekends, I think, when they have a late licence until 1am.

OK -- Trader Woody, Tiki Chris, anyone else -- I'm looking forward to meeting you in South London Pacific tomorrow night (Saturday 6 April) in South London Pacific, 340 Kennington Road SE11 (Kennington tube). How will you know me? Well, there aren't many six-foot females in that malnourished neck of the woods (although sod's law says the place'll be the venue for the South London Giantesses' Reunion Dinner tomorrow). And how will I know you? You tell me...

I'll be the short-arse in the Hawaiian shirt!
Jeez, come to think of it, I'm pretty non-descript!
As that may not single me out of the LSP crowd, I'll try and remember to wear a tiki necklace. I'll probably have bought some records, be taking photos of the joint, and be jabbering excitedly about Tiki to anyone who's unfortunate enough to get near me.

Well, I know what TikiChris looks like, so between us I'm sure it won't be too difficult to find each other.
Anyway, should be a fine evening!

Trader Woody


On 2002-04-05 06:49, Trader Woody wrote:
I'll be the short-arse in the Hawaiian shirt!

HEY WAIT A SECOND!!! That's what I look like too! no really, that's a pretty accurate description of me.

Anyway, I'll be clad in an aloha shirt w/ Tiki Emi coming along w/ me. I know what Woody looks like and will be on the lookout for a very tall woman.

btw, andrewsisters, i sent an email w/ a pic of tiki emi & me to you.


man we had an excellent time @ south london pacific!

& tiki emi has been raving about the place since we left (much to my surprise).

i'm totally down w/ going back there & dragging along some friends.

i had no idea that the place:

  • would be so massive!
  • would have SO MANY tikis!
  • would be so hip & happening!

& the music! was appropriate & fun!

i thought the revolving tiki w/ the disco ball in his mouth was an excellent touch.

eager to try the food & a few more of the drinky drinks,
:sheckymug: tiki chris :sheckymug:

[ Edited by: Tiki Chris on 2002-04-08 03:09 ]


do tell me you guys took pictures! i'm dying to see them... trying to visualise this disco tiki >>:-[]

so I finally got to meet Tiki Chris, Tiki Emi and Trader Woody -- result! Thanks for a great night, guys -- Trader Woody, I can't wait to see those photos...

I must say that I've taken a whole bunch of people there now, almost none of whom had ever previously heard of tiki -- without exception they loved it and plan to return. Certainly it seems my fears of the place not getting the punters in were groundless -- they were still flocking in when we left (undeterred by what was possibly the world's worst Elvis impersonator).... TIKI ROCKS IN SOUTH LONDON!!!!!


On 2002-04-08 03:28, kahukini wrote:
do tell me you guys took pictures! i'm dying to see them... trying to visualise this disco tiki >>:-[]

i took some photos. don't know how the disco tiki photo will turn out due to the lighting, but rest assured that i'll post some when we get them developed!

:sheckymug: :sheckymug: :sheckymug:
Tiki Chris

[ Edited by: Tiki Chris on 2002-04-08 05:39 ]

Just got around to posting after catching up on the nights sleep missed by being 7 minutes too late for the last train after a great evening at the South London Pacific!

It was superb to finally meet theandrewssister, and a fine night was had by all. The SL Pacific gets a huge mark of approval, and would undoubtably be a hit with all the TikiCentral members.

My initial feelings upon arriving there were, "Where the hell am I? This is part of London that NOBODY goes to", followed by, "This looks very like any other pub, though perhaps with a nautical theme".

Inside, though, it's a wholly different matter. There are Tiki's all over the place. Big ones, small ones, Moais, wierd ones, masks, statues, etc etc. The attention to detail is amazing, as it has the clutter of a bar open 2 decades rather than 2 weeks.

The bartenders all wear aloha shirts, the music is classy lounge, the entertainment (at least the night we went) hilariously OTT Elvis impersonations. And people were having FUN! Tiki is pretty much unheard of over here and just seeing the delight on peoples faces when they entered the Bar or saw drinks being served in Tiki mugs was a joy.

There's the inevitable wrinkles to be sorted out...more bartenders needed, some more decor in the toilets, and the removal of the parrot mugs, but these are small quibbles, particularly at this very early stage.

Most important was that the place was heaving, and everyone was having a great time. It's no good inventing the perfect Tiki Bar if it closes through lack of business a month later. By the looks of Saturday night, The South London Pacific will be here next time you decide to take a vacation in London, and the one after that!!

Trader Woody

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