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Washington DC Tiki Archeology - Anyone ever heard of the Junkanoo?

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My TC friend, puamana (menu collector extraordinaire), and myself recently collected a few items from an old tiki restaurant in Washington D.C. called the Junkanoo. She's got the menu and I've got the matchbook.

We had never heard of the place before. "Junkanoo" is the name of a Carribean festival, and indeed one of the restaurant locations is in Nassau, Bahamas. However, the menu and matchbook show a mix of Polynesian, Caribbean, and African styles. The exotic drinks were served in Tiki Mugs. It looks like a legit tiki restaurant to me.

Has anyone ever heard of the Junkanoo? Here is my matchbook, which I bought in a lot of other Washington D.C. matchbooks. The address is 1629 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC. Puamana will post pictures of her menu next.



Here's the Junkanoo menu pic, along with a few close-ups of drink mug illustrations:

Alot of the drinks listed had more Caribbean style names: Junkanoo Hurricane, Kingston Jewel, Junkanoo Native, Haitian Voodoo, the Limey, Goombay Melody, Barracuda's Bite, even though a few came in tiki mugs. There is a little blurb at the bottom of the menu stating who made their drink/tiki mugs, and that they were for sale at the front desk. Has anyone seen one of these mugs ?

1629 Constitution Ave in D.C. is now occupied by a upscale modern lounge named Gazuza. It has a patio that overlooks Dupont Circle - definitely a high rent area. I've never been there, but Gazuza is only a block or two from the 18th Street Lounge of Thievery Corporation techno music fame.


jtiki posted on Fri, May 16, 2003 1:13 PM

I wa trying to visualize the block in question. That particular address has changed looks recently. I thought it was a gay bar or a record store.

(I'm assuming you meant conneticut, not consitution)


check ebay....I saw a record by Ivan Simms "Live At The Junkanoo Club".....showed just the front cover....not much info....maybe seller can send you a pic of the rear cover or tell you if there is any more info about the club on it or even if it is the same place......


WOW! This is huge coincidence! I didn't see this thread until now. (I'm pretty hit and miss on the threads, can't read them all). Last night I posted about a place called the Krakatoa Lounge. The image that you have on the your matchbook is the one we drew in my travel journal that I was inquiring about!! I'm going to have to scan it or take a digital and show you. I wonder if this restaurant had a name change at one point? This HAS to be the same place where we went. Now I'm really curious!!

(see my thread entitled Krakatoa Lounge for more details)

[ Edited by: exoticat on 2003-05-20 03:34 ]


See! Here he is! Thanks for solving the mystery--I can't believe the answer was already here.

p.s. that is my friend's writing and sketch, not mine...

[ Edited by: exoticat on 2003-05-20 03:30 ]

[ Edited by: exoticat on 2003-05-20 03:32 ]


There are NINE sketches of this tiki in my travel journal...that is just the first one. ha ha

Hey Exoticat, That's Amazing!

What are the chances of us all tracking down the same tiki bar at the same time from different parts of the country? That logo is definitely from the same place. The Krakatoa must have been its second incarnation. Now I've got to hunt for more memorabilia under both names. Thanks for helping with the history.



Let me know if you discover any new info!! Maybe the Krakatoa Lounge was inside of the Junkanoo and we just never made note of it? Like I said, they were giving us free drinks (ouzo too) where we ate dinner...the evidence is in my friend's handwriting...it's a bit scrawly... ha ha :)

[ Edited by: exoticat on 2003-05-20 18:45 ]

I've been doing extensive research and can't believe how hard it is to find data and pictures on either The Krakatoa or The Junkanoo.

It was the Circle prior to becoming Gazuza:

Circle 1629 Connecticut Ave NW

When Rascals closed in December 1992, the owners applied to transfer the liquor license to 1629 Connecticut. It took over a year to get permission in the face of ANC opposition and zoning challenges. The Circle became a very popular bar for black and white gay men. The Sunday night happy hour had lines down the street waiting to get in.

Shortly after Gazuza opened in the middle of May, the patio overlooking Connecticut Avenue became Dupont Circle's latest see-and-be-seen location. Although there are more than a dozen tables, it's such a hotly contested spot for socializing that we heard customers were taking tables inside with a view of the patio – in order to move in and grab a table as soon as it became available.

If you can't sit outside, don't worry – despite the buzz, the patio is only one feature of Gazuza. The new digs are immediately eye-catching, with a sleek and modern decor of glass and metal, enhanced with low lighting. This lounge is the latest venture from the owners of such downtown hot spots as Paper Moon and Chi-Cha Lounge, and their experience shows.

By virtue of its location, within a block of Dupont Circle proper, it has become popular with gay men, like the space's previous client, the Circle Bar. But after several visits, it's clear that this lounge is attracting an eclectic clientele: Yuppies, Euro-types and the sneakered have been seen sharing tapas.

With such a diverse crowd coming through the doors, it's unfortunate that inside, the space isn't terribly conducive to mingling. The low slung tables have been distributed around the perimeter of a single room, and the bar lacks stools.

Ambient house music suits the lounge vibe and is kept low as to not impede conversation. Perhaps the musical offerings could embrace more variety and energy as the spot's popularity grows -- which it certainly will; Dupont lacks of another establishment that fills this particular "upscale lounge" niche.

These are minor kinks for a lounge already creating an upscale but non-exclusive atmosphere. The refreshingly pleasant bar staff helps greatly on that front, as do the tasty apple martinis.

– Rhome Anderson

Dupont Circle: Where Art and Eccentricity Meet
By Sascha Segan
Washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 17, 1997

Dupont Circle radiates art, culture and eccentric vitality.

Openly gay couples celebrate in a raucous summer Gay Pride Parade and a Halloween Drag Race. On sunny spring days, a brass band plays outside the Dupont Circle Metro station and an occasional free-lance horn player sets up on Q Street.

Teenagers with pierced lips and threadbare jackets juggle colorful sticks and huddle in doorways. Twenty- and thirty-somethings fill the sidewalk cafes on 17th Street.

"Behold our glory," laughed David Sherman, a proofreader from Takoma Park who comes to play chess in Dupont Circle "every nice day."

The Circle's original old-money residents might be shocked to see it today. Fabulous mansions were built in this Northwest Washington neighborhood in the 1880s and 1890s. But by the 1940s, the wealthy had moved further north and west and their mansions had devolved into boarding houses for returning war veterans.

Dupont became a bohemian zone, a place for sketch artists and beat poets.

Washington's hippies played their guitars on the Circle's grass in the '60s; attracted by the liberal atmosphere, gay people moved to the neighborhood in droves. By the 1980s, young professionals were added to the mix.

The result today is a social goulash of yuppies, gay and straight; a few young families and long-term residents.

I also found a guy named Dan who has an extensive hot sauce collection and he has both of these:

D'Vanya's Junkanoo Hot Pepper Sauce

Krakatoa pure Red Savina Habanero Mash



Exoticat, great info on the Krakatoa/Junkanoo connection ! I couldn't believe it when I saw the same tiki drawing in your journal photo. What perfect timing for these posts.
Bongofury, thanks for the great info on the Ivan Simms live at Junkanoo Club lp, also. The auction had ended by the time I checked it out, but luckily there were no bidders. So I was able to get it ( I'm equally as curious about the music on it as well as any additional info ). Once I receive the lp, if there's any more info/pics on the back, I'll post again. Now I'm really curious as to what the place might have looked like.

[ Edited by: puamana on 2003-05-21 11:05 ]

When we were there in 1988, we sat outside on the patio as described above. I believe they had a really big tiki and that's why we kept sketching it...that's what I'd really like to see.

I hope someone can crack the mystery of the longevity of The Junkanoo and The Krakatoa Lounge and find photos as well.

in asking around my local resources to find out anything about 'the waikiki" in d.c. (found nothing so far,) "big al" told me this, based on research on the washington post archives:

"The Washington Post archives had lots of data on the old polynesian-style restaurants in the D.C. area
Some of these stories include:

  1. The Marriot Kona Kai opening in Philly in '61 and later in D.C.

  2. Luau Hut Silver Spring '67

  3. Blue Hawaii Bethesda '69

  4. Diamond Head Georgetown & Chevy Chase '77

  5. Trader Vics '61 - he actually existed but never saw the 'South Seas' good storys '61 & '71

  6. Junkanoo closed in '79, became an eyesore in early 80s, panhandler and his dog story '86, more pix in '87, torn down in '88. Best known as the spot in Oct of 1974 Wilbur Mills and a stripper had dinner before she later jumped into Tidal Basin and caused an international fiasco."

more on wilbur mills here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilbur_Mills

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