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When is a Tiki bar NOT a Tiki bar?

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Don’t ask Garrett Martin of Paste Magazine, because he has no idea. https://www.pastemagazine.com/travel/strong-water-anaheim-tiki-bar/

I love Strong Water a lot. But I know they’re not a Tiki bar. They have never even referred to themselves as a Tiki bar either. Seriously, what the hell is up with these journalists who are so quick to lump nautical/pirate bars together with actual Tiki bars?? Isn’t the entire point of a Tiki bar to have actual Tikis in it?

He is the last person in the world who should be proselytizing about what Tiki bars should look like and what they should/shouldn’t have. Im dropping him into the hall of shame along with many other writers who often think Donn Beach opened the first actual Tiki bar.

[ Edited by Tikifish81 on 2022-09-22 19:09:04 ]


He lost me when he started to rabbit on about "cultural appropriation" in his "review"! Who the hell started the idiotic beat up about that and why is he even mentioning it? Trying to placate the "woke" brigade?


Anyone who uses the words 'cultural appropriation', especially a journalist, loses any and all credibility right away.

Excellent topic! We fight this problem all the time here in Flori-duh... People do not know the difference between a "Jimmy Buffett bar" or "Florida tiki," versus the admittedly broad yet authentic "tiki" bar.

The article - one word - douchey. Yeah, writers sometimes just don't know what they're talking about. But yes, they submitted a story and got paid and had it published. Yay.

I used to look for at least one carved tiki, but now that there are so many painted tiki carvings prominently displayed, I have narrowed down even further what I was willing to give a "pass" to.

Reminds me of the old "Big Bamboo Lounge" in Kissimmee (RIP!) that had lots of thatching but only one small tiki above the cash register. It barely qualified as "tiki," but man, it is still the number one most fun dive bar I've ever been to.

The really sad thing is people will refuse to educate themselves on this particular part of American pop culture, focus on the drinks only, and just continue to aid in the de-evolution of the Tiki Revival.

And a smaller subset still will dismiss any of Sven Kirsten's books and research just because he's a white European man. So stupid, it makes me head hurt.

This is a great topic and I think about it constantly! I think right off the bat, a Tiki bar needs tikis. That's a given. When bar owners remove or don't have tikis in their bar, they are removing the heart of what a tiki bar is. Second a tiki bar has a very distinct vibe that should be dark and mysterious. You just know when a tiki bar is a true tiki bar and when it's not. There's a certain feeling..


In a day and age where people are not sure what to say when asked to define what a woman is you want a tiki bar defined?

Might be a hard ask.

BUT I took LOTS of heat way back when I said that a Star Wars tiki bar was not tiki, and let me tell you not many if any took my side.

Then there was a Basketball tiki bar with sports tiki Bob mugs to match, it went on and on.

I am really old school in this area as I don't even want color changing or any really led lights in my version of a tiki bar.

You can put anything you want in your bar but then others have the same right to say that's not tiki etc.

I don't get pissed when people say something I have in my bar is not tiki it's just a person's opinion really and most times they are right as I have headhunter stuff and a few other non-tiki items.

But there should be a general guide for what a tiki bar is and that was put in writing in a book called the book of tiki.

Sven too takes some heat for his views on what a tiki bar is too, but he also has a few non-tiki items in his bar as well.

I don't think people are unable to define a woman as mentioned in the above post , ....just scared to do so! It is a monumental case of a very small group not satisfied with equality, they demand superiority! The tail is very much now wagging the dog....


I forgot you were in Australia.

Supreme Court nominee to define 'woman' | USA TODAY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWtGzJxiONU


Oh don't worry tikiskip, ...we are experiencing almost the exact same idiocy right here. We had a Minister for HEALTH (yes you read that correctly) publicly asked the very same question and it took him THREE months to fabricate an answer. We live in an age where your kid can't dress up as an indian, but a man in a dress is a woman?

I'm staying out of discussions regarding gender and biological sex for personal reasons.

However, I do want to address a previous statement that yes, you can put anything you want in a Tiki bar if it makes you happy. But far too many people are calling things "Tiki" when they're not. And these so-called journalists aren't helping by referring to bars that are not Tiki as Tiki bars. They're actually teaching people that Tiki is just a catch-all word for anything resembling a tropical/nautical bar.

I saw a post on Instagram from a friend and fellow Tikiphile who visited Tiki Tatsu-ya in Austin, TX and expressed happiness at the actual Tiki imagery there, whereas the author of the article I shared was lauding the lack of Tiki imagery. Guess he didn't bother to take a closer look, or he would have noticed it. Again, lazy, shoddy work on behalf of this writer.

If you’re just parroting wokist mantras like ‘cultural appropriation’ then journalism isn’t a good fit. Propaganda never honestly approaches a subject - like what makes a tiki bar - instead it’s only looking for a place to insert the woke line.

Personally, I think the greater issue here is the miseducation of Tiki newbies who don't have access to the resources that were once available during the early Tiki revival (Sven's books are an excellent example—most people can't get them due to cost and scarcity.). You can tell them what is and isn't Tiki until you're blue in the face, but unless there are ways of telling them WHY, it's a losing battle.

It's one of the reasons I've largely abandoned Facebook Tiki groups. It feels like the majority of them are full of posts asking if the latest mug or carving they found in the wild is Tiki, and if it's worth anything. These are not educated Tiki consumers. But even among these people are folks who DO want to learn, but they need resources. The challenge is how to reach them.

For those who struggle with why one should be able to identify the word “woman” let me make this clear.

If I say to you, a friend let’s say, I am a man looking to date a woman and I ask you if you know any women whom I might wish to get to know for this reason, your inability to communicate back to me would be problematic.

As I said, those are conversations I'd rather not get into—I'd prefer to stay on the Tiki topic.

Let's just say that when dating I have certain expectations. I do NOT want to find any "surprises"...!!!

The answer for the question on this forum isn’t necessary. However, the point that one should be able to define tiki is important. If I go to a recommended tiki bar and find it is instead a nautical bar, shame on the person who recommended it. It like going to a steakhouse only to find it is all vegan.

Unfortunately, I feel we're going to be seeing this a LOT. I recently heard through Sven that a lot of the bars Bamboo Ben has been working on have actively chosen to go more nautical/beachcomber than Tiki due to the changing attitudes about it. There are some who unapologetically go Tiki, but the vocal minority has gotten to some of these new bar proprietors. Sad.


Yes, but remember that it's those empty vessels that make the most noise.


Honestly, I wouldn't have much of an expectation that a journalist would know much of anything about what is "tiki" and what isn't. I've worked with the Miss Hawaii USA Pageant for decades and I can tell you journalists are ALWAYS making massive errors in their reporting of pageants...they don't seem to understand Miss America and Miss USA are two completely different pageants with different requirements. They constantly give ladies names as being winners of the incorrect pageant. They confuse Miss World and Miss Universe. Clueless. But they are journalists. So...whatever. I imagine most any person off the street walking into this beautiful establishment would go "Oh, what a lovely tiki bar." I wouldn't call it a tiki bar, but then I'm a little more knowedgable about the correct use of the term.


That "Miss Universe" always amuses me. The girls all appear to be from Earth! Where are all the other entrants from the rest of the universe?

Thanks for reading and linking to the article. We’ve run a lot of pieces about tiki bars at Paste and will continue to do so regularly in the future. We might have a more expansive view of what constitutes a tiki bar than others, but we’re coming from a place of respect and appreciation for the midcentury American culture that spawned the scene, and hopefully you’ll continue to read our thoughts on tiki bars even if you don’t always agree with them.

Perhaps not so much whilst you continue to push that "cultural appropriation" barrow?

A little intro to Garrett Martin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foxA0L4je34

He did say Dave Chappelle is "out of touch" in one of his posts, From some other stories he posted I can glean he was indoctrinated to Tiki by way of Disneyland and Disneyworld, but he should clarify that himself to be fair, His views are very representative of the "modern mixologist" viewpoint/mindset.


Purely out of left field I know however I do think it important to actually know a bit about the subject on which you are writing, even if it is just a "puff-piece".

Personally I hate places like this being designated as "Tiki", or anything even thereof! Oh DO notice the three masks on the far wall, and the slats overhead. Not to mention those most uncomfortable looking WIRE bar stools. Those pathetic pendant lights! And the tiki mugs all locked up in the glass display case while drinks are served in generic bar ware? Decorated by some hipster designer, daringly veering from their usual obsession with minimalism.


[ Edited by TIKIGIKI on 2022-10-01 17:24:31 ]

I'm interested—what sources have you consulted to learn what mid-20th century Polynesian Pop (Tiki) really is? Have you read any of Sven Kirsten's books, by chance? They are the most thorough and comprehensive sources out there.

Polynesian Pop was never meant to be an authentic representation of Pasifika/Polynesian cultures. It is what I call purposeful inauthenticity. It is a uniquely American stylizing of something that back in those days, was quite inaccessible for the average American. And as an important piece of pop culture history, it has been studied, researched, and documented in print for others to draw from.

People can evolve, but history is static—it does not evolve. It simply is. What those of us who have studied it and know what it is are asking is that the waters not be muddied or diluted with incorrect information. To that end, I don't plan on sharing any more articles from Paste.

Some of us who are old and actually grew up and lived during the "Mid Century" era have first hand knowledge of said subject and who are frequently ignored by those who were not even alive then, but have done hours of research into said subject from "reliable" sources, such as "Wikipedia?" well they must know better, right?

Some might say I am Cynical, you think?

I could not have put it better myself Tikifish81!

From the home bar perspective, I think that people start out wanting (what they think is) a tiki bar, but they don't really know where to start other than with the readily available mass produced junk. So they do their best (or half-assed best) to make something, only to have people tell them it isn't what they think it is. Their first reaction is, screw you, it's my tiki bar, who are you to tell me it isn't! I don't think the average person is looking at tiki as something with a historic lineage and a defined aesthetic. And they definitely aren't going to spend $200 on The Book of Tiki to find out, and probably don't even know it exists. That said, those who care enough, and listen, start looking deeper. They make some changes, find some estate sale items, spend more time and money, and eventually get hooked. And minds change. It took me two years to have a home bar that I'm proud enough of to consider it an actual tiki bar.

From the commercial bar perspective--these half-assed attempts and making some watered down version of a "tiki" bar is just some combination of greed, laziness and ignorance. They're in it for a quick buck and have no regard for what is or isn't tiki. And they won't be around long.

Hello, my name is Geotags, and I am a writer for Unglued and Unhinged. We are very much new to the Tiki scene, but we want to respect its heritage and history. That said, because we do respect the genre, we find it important to dismiss those parts that are not inclusive and are offensive to modern audiences.

While it is obvious that most tiki representation is inappropriate, we do find well-placed ferns to be appropriate in a setting of bamboo and thatch.

I hope you will continue to read our articles for their knowledge and very authentic viewpoints.

Thank you.

There seems to be a virus going around that affects our younger generations the symptoms are "Becoming an Instant Expert" on any given subject with minimal effort and ignoring people whom knew first hand, were actually there, maybe even had a hand in establishing said subject.

Que, Sarah McLachlan song...

ATP when my neighbor, Stanley, was in his 50s he use to subscribe to the thought that intelligence is on a curve. His kid thought he knew way more than his old man & then Stanley would go to work on the condos (he did air conditioning) in the retirement community & those oldsters knew they knew more than Stanly & would tell him so. They would tell him how to do his job. Will

When is a tiki bar not a tiki bar?

Apparently when it is sanitized of any thing that has to do with tikis.Eh, then it can apparently be called a tiki bar in good conscious.

I am curious, what do you all think of Golden Tiki in Las Vegas?

The Dunning-Kruger effect in a nutshell.


I'll bite on that one. Golden Tiki is not a classic Tiki temple like Frankies in Las Vegas is. They attract a younger and rowdier crowd, they play contemporary music instead of more traditional Hawaiian or Exotica. But I thought their drink menu was solid and I appreciated appetizers available. Their decor is fun and leans toward Tiki even if it isn't classic MCM Tiki decor. I appreciated the ambiance of Frankie's but enjoyed the vibe of Golden Tiki more.

I couldn't agree more. It really causes one to question what is tiki.

I appreciated Frankie's for what it was - a modern classic Tiki bar. The decor was spot-on, the drinks were classic and well done They went as far as to have a TV at the bar playing classic old movies. But my personal preference is to eat while I drink and they didn't serve any food. We went on a random week night, there was a fair number of people there but only one bartender. She was a bit overworked to be very personable. There was no waitress service, you ordered at the bar and took it back to your table. The place was a little too dark for my taste and the patrons were all just drinking quietly at their tables. It would probably be more fun on a weekend. We went to Golden Tiki on the same night. It was busier, brighter, noisier. The waitress was attentive and friendly, the food and drinks were good. Not classic Tiki at all but we still had a better time there.

[ Edited by MadDogMike on 2022-10-13 11:43:30 ]

That has been my experience as well. The Golden Tiki has many of the elements of a tiki bar and of course, it lacks a few things as well - or at least they are few in number.

The drinks are excellent, however.

Frankie's is dark. It is a place to get lost in. I can see sitting with a few friends deep in dark conversations about whatever.

Mr. Tiki would be happier at The Golden Tiki.

Yes he would LOL

Sorry for the ignorant question, but who opened the first actual tiki bar if it wasn't Donn's?

Hello everyone. I'm new here. Also, I have opinions, like many of you.

Donn's was absolutely the first Tiki Bar. So what if it didn't have tikis in it? Tiki evolved from Donn's, yes, but he is the popular father of it all. Tiki is still evolving. That's much better than it being dead.

Also, nautical can be Tiki or not, depending on the obvious intention of the designer. Molokai Bar anyone?

Also, who in the world would throw shade at The Golden Tiki?? It runs laps around what what Frankie's is today. Frankie's is fine; they are different places, but they're both Tiki Bars. I've only been to 15 or so Tiki Bars, but The GT is easily the best I've seen. Easily.

Otherwise, just enjoy it all! It's all evolved from Don & Vic's creations!

But I know they’re not a Tiki bar.

they are a dark bar with nautical elements and actual tikis inside. Of course it is a tiki bar.

[ Edited by kevincrossman on 2022-10-25 13:11:51 ]

[ Edited by kevincrossman on 2022-10-25 13:11:57 ]

How can it be a Tiki bar if it doesn't have any Tikis in it? That's what gives it its name, the Tikis.

Strong Water Anaheim does have tikis. I saw plenty of them.

The continued obsession with engaging in pedantic debates over the nature/boundaries of this hobby will keep a lot of people away from this site, if they were ever coming back. Revanchist dumpster fires are exhausting.

Except this is TC and NOT Everything Tiki on Facebook. Pedantic debates are what this site has always been about to some extent. Someone looking for a clown tiki should probably look elsewhere.


If you can't handle the heat.........

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