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Name:South Seas
Type:Bar
Street:The Pike
City:Long Beach
State:CA
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
Photo of the Pike 1953. Any info from anybody on this?

[ Edited by: King Bushwich the 33rd 2018-01-10 00:31 ]

OGR

Just this from a 1948 Long Beach Newspaper blurb... Saloons Named "Most complaints have been made about the Bowery at 254 West Ocean boulevard, the South Seas at 307 West Pike and the Nutshell at 257 Bowling way." They definitely must have had some potent cocktails :)

Some background info on the area where the South Seas resided...

The Pike was an amusement zone in Long Beach, CA from about 1900 to 1980.

The Pike: History

It was definitely NOT like Disneyland. It was frequented mainly by sailors from the nearby Naval base and, as former employees describe as, "many"painted ladies," "floozies," and "professional women from 16 to 60" who plied their trade". Nearby was an area of the city called The Jungle...

LBPost: Welcome to the Jungle: The Forgotten Tale of Long Beach's Oceanfront Slum

There are eight million stories found in the Pike (including Elmer McCurdy, do an internet search) but that is a whole different area of urban archaeology.

Unlike many of the bars described here on TikiCentral, it is doubtful that the South Seas was visited by celebrities and middle class suburbanites.

I think I came across a couple of historical photos of this place in the Long Beach Fire Department online collection available through the Cal State Dominguez Hills online archives (online here: https://cdm16855.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/search/advanced). The photos were purportedly taken in January and September 1953 and show the interior of an unidentified "South Sea theme" bar in Long Beach, California. The provenance says the restaurant was located at 200 Ocean Avenue, but I think either the addresses changed at some point or that was an error.

Here are the two photos:

I think this place is the South Seas because, if you zoom in on the upper right of that first image (easier to do at the CSDH site directly here: https://cdm16855.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/LBFiremen/id/2913), you can see the drink menu, and at the top you can just make out "South S...."

There's also some pretty neat stuff in the pics to feast your eyes on. I don't think I've seen that art before in any other historic tiki bars (is that some kind of early black velvet painting?), but maybe some of the old-timers can educate me.

And check out the drinks advertised: the "Monkey's Tail" ("You keep the monkey for a guide!" - is the South Seas Monkey an undiscovered crypto mug?), the "Banana Bazooka" ("World Famous", apparently), listed among standards like the South Seas Cooler, the Zombie, Planter's Punch and Singapore Sling, and others. There's also a funny little match/hula girl doll behind the bar, and a neat mish-mash of wall coverings.

I should note that there are several other photographs in the collection that are also labeled as a bar at 200 Ocean Avenue, but those photos look like they are of a completely different bar. Or maybe it was remodeled at some point?

[ Edited by: HotelCharlieEcho 2018-02-05 17:57 ]

M

Nice discovery!

A little more on this one: From this matchbook image, it looks like this place was also called the "South Seas Room" and was part of the 307 Club next door. Maybe that's why the photos from the same address I mentioned earlier look like a different bar.

You can see the "307" above the "South Seas" sign in the original image posted by King B:

Great photo finds, HotelCharlieEcho, and great research on the photos!

Probably not lots of background information floating around on any business's in the Pike at Long Beach. The people who worked there were like carnys and if someone asked too many questions, they figured that person was law enforcement and would clam up.

The former location of the Pike amusement zone is now high rises and condos. One spot that keeps it's link to the Pike past is Outer Limits Tattoo which use to be owned by the legendary tattoo artist Bert Grimm.

Outer Limits Tattoo

OC Weekly: From Bert Grimm to Outer Limits, This Long Beach Tattoo Shop Remains the Oldest in the World

Tattoo History: Bert Grimm

Looff's Lite-A-Line is a former Pike business that moved up North a few miles on Long Beach Blvd. They have artifacts and
relics from the Pike such as roller coaster cars and signs on display and are worth a visit.

Facebook: Looffs Lite-A-Line

Suspicions confirmed. According to this article from the Long Beach Independent for February 11, 1949, "[t]he 307 Club adjoins the South Seas."

So this does appear in fact to have been more of a "South Seas Room" connected to a non-Poly-pop bar than a stand-alone Tiki/pre-Tiki bar. It's my understanding there were lots of these South Seas/Hurricane/Palm rooms in non-tropical themed bars and hotels all over the place in the pre-Tiki era. There were several in Long Beach alone during the Poly-pop craze (e.g., the Outrigger at the Lafayette Hotel, the Hukilau at the Captain's Inn, the Palm Room at the Port Hole Café), to say nothing of what must have been one of the originators of the genre, the Cocoanut Grove at L.A.'s Ambassador Hotel.

Also looks like they were trying to revoke the license since at least early 1949, and there are other newspaper references to fights and general misbehavior at the location through the years (SOP for the Pike, no doubt). The fact there were photos taken of the place as late as 1953 suggests the South Seas must have had some good political connections, good lawyers, or maybe both.

Looking at the pictures a little more, I'm convinced the "monkey" patrons were supposed to keep as a "guide" was just one of those coconuts you see carved out to hold an ordinary drinking glass.

There's a carved coconut behind the bar in this detail from one of the pictures:

You can still find these things for sale out there:

http://www.olafstore.top/vintage-hand-carved-coconut-head-tiki-bar-lounge-decor-cup-holder-bank-monkey-p-1046.htm

On 2018-04-09 17:09, HotelCharlieEcho wrote:
Looking at the pictures a little more, I'm convinced the "monkey" patrons were supposed to keep as a "guide" was just one of those coconuts you see carved out to hold an ordinary drinking glass.

There's a carved coconut behind the bar in this detail from one of the pictures:

You can still find these things for sale out there:

http://www.olafstore.top/vintage-hand-carved-coconut-head-tiki-bar-lounge-decor-cup-holder-bank-monkey-p-1046.htm

Yeah, and don't get to excited and drop a large coin on one of them. Most are probably not "vintage". I have one from Mulligan's Beach House ( http://www.mulligansbeachhouse.com/ ), a local restaurant chain. I have another from Captain Hiram's Resort ( https://www.hirams.com ) in Sebastian. Mulligan's still carries them, not sure if Hiram's still does. I believe these things are carved (by the thousands) in the Philippines, so there are probably other places that hand them out.

howlinowl

The last structure that housed part of the Pike/Nu Pike/Queens Park may soon be demolished. The East entrance arch on Pine, South of Ocean Blvd. There use to be a club at this area which had country swing bands perform. It lasted through the 1970's. It became a comedy club a few years later.

Huell Howser visits one of the last remaining buildings from the great old Long Beach Pike Amusement Park.

YouTube: Visiting with Huell Howser: Long Beach Pike

More about "The Jungle" which was near The Pike in Long Beach, CA

LBPost - Long Beach Lost: The Jungle, Downtown’s play den for ‘immorality and sexual deviation’

In this photo, you can see a little match girl hula doll in the middle right that I referenced earlier:

Here's a closeup:

Well, guess what I found randomly in the wild?

Not mine, and once I started looking I found a few of them around the net, but I still thought it was cool enough to share.

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