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i've been meaning to bring this up for some time but have only recently found the time.

my impression of the few tv's i've visited (in addition to promotional material, etc. from other tv's) is that tv's rely as much, if not more, upon the art of papua new guinea (particularly that of the sepik river valley) & melanasia as upon the art of polynesia.

do tiki central members have a problem w/ this?

do any members out there use papua ng/melanasian elements in their home tiki bars?

are there any purists that think a tiki bar should only have tikis - & if so do you not consider tv's a tiki bar?

bigbro, what do you think?

for me, the png/melanasia thing isn't a problem. i think the oceanic arts (melanasia, micronesia & polynesia sans aboriginal australia) work quite well together...particularly in a tiki bar setting.

tc

[ Edited by: tiki chris on 2002-08-29 07:36 ]

My approach to the aesthetic is not strict. Personally, I even like to add some Hong Kong decor and Thai banana salsa to the mix. After all, even the Polynesian elements are often not really true to the culture.

Drawing the lines of Tiki is always difficult, and I bow to the superior knowledge of others on this score if any hard and fast 'rules' apply.

The way I see it, when it comes to the arts of Oceana, you have to draw the lines yourself, to some extent. The Book of Tiki has an excellent map in it's inside covers showing the Pacific & types of Oceanic art found in different areas. Perhaps it's up to the individual to choose which of these are deemed Tiki. I'd always include Maori stuff, but a purist might not. I'd exclude anything from New Guinea while others may see it as a Tiki essential.

I can't see any Tiki Bar in the world being able to a rigid 100% Tiki criteria. Is a glass float found washed up on an Atlantic beach truly Tiki? How about a wahine mug? A swizzle stick without a Tiki on top? A diorama of a Hawaiian beach? Netting made in China? Etc etc. Can a Tiki bar be relegated to being a mere bar just because the owner has added a few non-Tiki oddments picked up while beachcombing? Bigbro was absolutely
right that many so-called Tiki mugs aren't that at all, but does their presence in a home Tiki bar blow the whole effect?

More thoughts?

Trader Woody

Aloha! Trader Woody is right! To each his own...you've got your own personal heiau(temple) to the gods in your house and whatever it takes to appease them is up to you...hell...I don't consider leopard skin appropriate, nor all the Vegas-y RatPack elements...but, hell, I'll include a nod that way just 'cuz some people expect them to be in a Tiki Bar when they come over...What it comes down to, is that a Tiki Bar is all about escapism, urban archaeology, and the owner's personal vision of Tiki....Grey

S

I think the simple answer is right in front of us, the name: Trader Vic's. The original "theme" was that of a man who traded throughout the islands. What was in the bar/restaurant were things collected at various distant tropical lands. So, New Guinea, Hawaii, anything. Nautical? Sure! It's part of the "trade."

Then came another layer. The "tiki" bar. When did that term come along? 1990? Did they call them "tiki bars" in 1940-60?

After the fact, we have labeled things "tiki bars". And the original trader idea was copied by inland bars and restaurants. So, the focus changed a bit. But it's still the essence of the idea. A mish-mash of things collected from exotic lands.

So, I say, these aren't "tiki bars" at all! Trader Vic's, et al, are not "tiki." We made this umbrella term to call these places, and then turned around to say they don't fit the definition!? Absurd. Trader Vic's is the definition!

On 2002-08-29 08:27, Swanky wrote:

Then came another layer. The "tiki" bar. When did that term come along? 1990? Did they call them "tiki bars" in 1940-60?

Good point! Trader Vic's is, really, proto-tiki.

T

I actually prefer the Trader Vic's look to a lot of other places. a little more refined, a little more dark, a little more mysterious.

Right now, I actually prefer the look of the marquesan tikis to the hawaiian ones. But my preference fluctuates like the trade winds.

My livingroom is still tiki to me, and includes such non-tiki sacreliges as an Ikea couch, a cowboy TV lamp, Big-eye art and some Tretchikoffs ,alongside my Leetegs and Martin Denny album covers. So there you go.

Whatever floats your boat. As long as it's not Jimmy Buffet, ahaha!

Tiki Chris,

When you ask if fellow TC members use a Papua New Guinea influence in their tiki bar theme, I would have to ask are you speaking of a 'North' Sepik River Valley influence or a 'South' Sepik Rivier Valley influence?

On 2002-08-29 08:55, Tiki_Bong wrote:

. . .'North' Sepik River Valley influence or a 'South' Sepik Rivier Valley influence?

How about Upper, Lower, or Middle?

Here's more info than I can provide:

http://www.art-pacific.com/artifacts/nuguinea/sepikriv/sepikmrv.htm

T

tiki chris wrote:
"are there any purists that think a tiki bar should only have tikis - & if so do you not consider tv's a tiki bar?"

Hell no! I would agree with the other posters who feel that Trader Vic's (and Don the Beachcomber) invented the classy tiki bar/restaurant style by mixing various Oceanic and Polynesian arts with nautical themes (as being different from original non-classy tiki bars like the Tiki Ti, for example). It's the variety that makes it appealing.

But please save the african masks for the "safari" bar (like the one in the Florida Keys).

M

I actually prefer the Trader Vic's look to a lot of other places. a little more refined, a little more dark, a little more mysterious.

Harrumph Harrumph Tikifish! Fully agree.

As Tiki/Polynesian bars go the darker and more mysterious the better for moi. TV's fits that bill almost perfectly, and given TV's place in history any "misgivings" can be easily excused.

TV's is uber-tiki! I have seen pics of the Munich(?) TV's...looks to be the best decor of any I have visited or seen.

midnite

I agree with my fellow tiki-philes on their preference for the darker and more mysterious tiki bar look. Plus, I think a central point in Sven's writing is tiki culture was a fantasy of American popular culture, not a serious attempt to re-create a specific island culture. Also, please refer to the back cover of Don Beach's menus. There is a lovely map of the Caribbean... where the RUM COMES FROM!

Not to mention, is a "pure" tiki bar one which sticks to "the original idea"? Just how original? That is, I doubt that the guys carving the idols for pagan worship had their tikis set up around a lovely little bamboo bar stocked with several bottles of imported liquors and attractive little swizzle sticks, and a Shag painting behind.

Viva Trader Vic's!

These replies beg the question "Is a small dark bar with just a few small Tikis scattered here and there, but accompanied by a vast collection of bits & pieces found on the beach a better Tiki bar than one that is light & stark, but with huge classic Tiki statues at every corner?"

Trader Woody

Turn down the lights....

A

I like the Melanesian, New guinea and New Zealand influenced art. Some of it is so strange, so weird, so very exotic. It all blends well in a Tiki bar environment. The art of these regions has a little color in it, so it breaks up all the wooden monotone. Blending a variety of oceanic art and American Tikis looks cool, and no one dose it like Trader Vic's.

I have some Melanesian Dancing sticks framing my Ku Behind the bar.

Some other influences you can add to a tiki bar
Chinese. (Coolie hats)

Native Dance. Hula girls add that special ambiance.

Don Ho.

While we're talking about various island art, I have some examples.
At the Bishops museum in Honolulu they have some Melanesian art.

These are from New Calandonia.

I may be wrong, but , I believe these are from new Ireland.

In the Book Of Tiki there is a photo of the Maori carved door of the luau in Hollywood. It's really striking. Moari art is among my favorite. These carvings are at the Polynesian cultural center on the island of Oahu.



This meeting house was unbelievable.

The Marquesans


I really like Hawaiian Tikis too.

[ Edited by: Alnshely on 2002-08-29 21:46 ]

I

To the question of which is better -
a) a bar with few tikis but lots of beach stuff
b) light and stark, but with huge tikis displayed.

I will cheat and answer
c) two tiki bars in town are better than just one tiki bar

Vern

B

The thing about Trader Vic's is that they are much more sophisiticated than many of the Tiki bars from the '50s and '60s. A lot of the kitsch that is found in places like the Bahooka or the Mai-Kai are simply not there at Trader Vic's. I only know of the Beverly Hills and Chicago loations, but I look at them as being very chic lounges, less inherent of ballyhoo and more physically gratifying in a hedonistic elegance.

The Mai-Kai and the now-defunct Kahiki are probably my two favorite Tiki bars ever, but there is something unique and special about Trader Vic's. It's a different experience altogether, and whoever noted the difference in the visual style of the decor was right, Trader Vic's does not look as Tiki as some places... it IS more Oceanic and, dare I say, "sleek," in a very Modernism sensability. I love it for it's uniqueness. Some might disagree.

"refined, dark and mysterious."

Heavens, I wish someone would describe me like that...

I agree about TV's and it's why I liked the old SF one best--Palo Alto in particular isn't nearly dark enough, and it feels like a museum, albeit a really interesting and cool one. Of course, I wish I'd been to Zombie Village. My mother went, but now she can't remember it. Argh.

Bars should be dark! The last thing I want after consuming large quantities of alcohol is anyone looking at me under a bright light! Minnie's in Modesto is FABULOUSLY murky. Very flattering to the flushed, boozy complexion.

Isn't that the truth about tiki being an American pop culture fantasy! It still is, so decor-wise, whatever evokes that fantasy for you is probably the way to go. Cocoon-like does the trick for me, regardless of what sort of idol I'm lounging under. Lots of wall-coverings, cushions, soft music, that sort of thing. And WARM. Friend of mine has an amazing backyard tiki bar, but he stubbornly refuses to heat it. His wife says it's the Catholic in him. I'm not kidding.

We still seem to be one of the most repressed cultures around; I suspect we need tiki more than ever. (Reminds me of the Victorians and their fascination with Chinoiserie and the Arabian Nights.) Paganistic hedonism is the point. Which is why almost everyone's fantasy of the perfect tiki bar includes scantily clad servers...and why tiki will never be mainstream--not in this country, anyway. It's not fast, brightly lit, sanitized, homogenized, loud and PG-rated-fit-for-the-kiddies! Or PC, for that matter, though it is VERY good-natured.

Lisa, aka tikivixen

C
colly posted on Sun, Sep 1, 2002 8:20 AM

tiki bars dont necessarily have to be completely devoted to tiki, my poppop's bar is like a mix between a sports bar and a tiki bar, becuase he likes the bucaneers, and his wife likes the tikis. i would post a picture, but i dont have one. its alot nicer than it sounds. heh. but anyway, i think a tiki bar should be original and not made from a cookie-cutter.

PLease remember that Trader Vic's, just like Don The Beachcomber, was founded in the Pre-Tiki period (see the B.O.T. "Evolution of Polynesian Pop" chart) and they never used a Tiki as a logo originally.

If it would have not been for the creative work of sculptor Barney West, all of T.V's Tikis would have probably been authentic reproductions, less "Polynesia Americana", which was considered too tacky by people who wanted "class". It is this attitude that is continued in the Palo Alto Trader.
Plus, with the de-cluttering by throwing "tacky things" like the Beachcomber lamps out, the remaining T.V.s are looking less and less like CLASSIC Tiki bars (trying to be "classy" Tiki bars instead).

The B.O.T. mission statement is that American, interpretive Tiki Style is an art form in it's own right, but it is too much to expect from companies from the first generation that have been greatly damaged by the "Down with Fake Kon-Tiki" attitude of the 80s to understand and wholeheartedly go for that.

This said, thank god that Trader Vic's still exists, they are the last pillar of American Tiki culture still standing. And Mahalo that they went for Holden's efforts to resurrect their great mug tradition (and rums!).

In general, a Tiki bar should always have Tikis and Polynesian items as it's MAIN decor, but ad Melanesian, Micronesian, nautical, trader and beachcomber items so it gets that "adventures in the South Seas" feel.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki on 2002-09-01 10:48 ]

I think this old thread deserves a bump. Be kool to see what members of the community think in 2005, especially since there has been much discussion about little details in the last few months.

I also want to cross reference the discussion regarding different opinions about where and if PNG art fits in Tiki, which falls under a heading with a different intent.
http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=8345&forum=5&start=0&hilite=PNG
Scroll to the middle of the first page and take a read.


[ Edited by: I dream of tiki 2005-12-03 18:44 ]

M

Be kool to see what members of the community think

I'm a thinking it's cool to be 38 again (but I'm still keeping the black market Viagra)...woo hoo!

Vic's is eminently Tiki, it's not even debatable. If someone thinks otherwise, I beat some sense into 'em with my wooden leg. Same goes for items/art from PNG.

Matter of fact, the whole "what is/not Tiki" discussion is un-Tiki. That said, logically speaking, the very discussion about whether an examination of "what is or is not Tiki?" is un-Tiki would be in itself very un-Tiki. So, if discussing whether something is/not Tiki is rather un-Tiki, and the concomitant dialog about whether that instant discussion is not Tiki, would not a website centered on discussing Tiki also be un-Tiki? Well, if that's the case I am not gonna sit here while you people participate in anti-Tiki activities.

I'm outta here, you can find me, and all the other bitchin' folk at a very Tiki locale. Some'll say it's wherever you want it to be, buddy. But I say, it's right here:

Online State Of Mind

I'm part of the problem,
midnite

Uh..yeah. Very constructive pranksterism again there, midnite-

But what about the Palo Alto Trader Vic's? Is it not too refined? I love museums with authentic primitive art well displayed, but I wish I would have been able to have seen the early Oceanic collections in the first museums, just after the turn of the century, which were:

"...much closer to being a very small and overcrowded depot where some of the most surprising productions ever conceived by the human spirit had been hastily laid out without rhyme or reason..."

It was these assemblages that exuded a mysterious and exotic atmosphere that inspired the moderns, like Picasso, to re-create the notion of what art was:

"...as he entered the Trocadero (earliest Anthropology Museum in Paris) rooms alone, the repulsive atmosphere of the place prompted the wish to flee, and at the same time something irresistibly attracted him- It was disgusting, the Flea Market, the smell..: I wanted to get out of there. I didn't leave. I stayed. I stayed...something was happening...it was very important...I suddenly realized WHY I WAS A PAINTER !"

Now while we cannot expect every Tiki bar to have this climactic effect on everyone of us, it would be desirable that a sense of mystery and fantasy would be brought out by the right balance of decor, drinks and music, which COULD bring us closer to, if even for a moment, appreciate the mysteries of creation.

It's that kind of mumbo jumbo voodoo that made me write my book. So there.

M

*constructive pranksterism *

I like that! I'm a gonna use that one, without attribution, of course. You do have a way with words. I oughta know, I been reading for several years now.

But what about the Palo Alto Trader Vic's? Is it not too refined?

Oh, that place is a froo froo hodge-podge of nouveau Silicon Valley Bobo aesthetic. Equal parts trust fund baby antiseptic and Cliff's Notes Anthro major mid-term.

I keed, I keed... do I?

*Now while we cannot expect every Tiki bar to have this climactic effect on everyone of us, it would be desirable that a sense of mystery and fantasy would be brought out by the right balance of decor, drinks and music, which COULD bring us closer to, if even for a moment, appreciate the mysteries of creation.

It's that kind of mumbo jumbo voodoo that made me write my book. So there.
*

There's a book? I have got to pay closer attention.

I agree. A little dark, potent drinks, some half-assed music would also be fine. There's a place in Downtown Chicago that fits the bill (oh wait...crap!). After several hours of one particular $4 Zombie night I appreciated the mysteries of creation, as I almost succumbed. Lucky for me I passed out at my table, then wet myself. I think it was in that order.

midnite... Fight On 'SC!

Kona Club.

W

A sense of mystery and fantasy brought out by the right balance of decor, drinks and music, which brings us closer to, if even for a moment, appreciate the mysteries of creation.

Not an exact quotation from bigbrotiki but that line so well describes the ideal Tiki/exotic environment that it needed to stand alone. It works as a touchstone for a Tiki joint, a question to ask when the question is asked "How Tiki is...?"

"How Tiki is Lola's Purple Passion Palace?""Well, is there a sense of mystery and fantasy brought out by the right balance of decor, drinks and music, which brings you closer to, if even for a moment, appreciate the mysteries of creation?"

"Uhm, there are electric violet skulls everywhere, Canadian Techno music blasting from the speakers, and the drinks, served in plastic Coors cups, all taste like rum flavored Slurpees. So I'd guess the answer is it's not very Tiki at all.""Very good, Grasshopper. Now go freshen this Coconaut for me."

On 2005-12-03 22:57, bigbrotiki wrote:

Now while we cannot expect every Tiki bar to have this climactic effect on everyone of us, it would be desirable that a sense of mystery and fantasy would be brought out by the right balance of decor, drinks and music, which COULD bring us closer to, if even for a moment, appreciate the mysteries of creation.

On 2005-12-04 09:44, woofmutt wrote:
Not an exact quotation from bigbrotiki but that line so well describes the ideal Tiki/exotic environment that it needed to stand alone. It works as a touchstone for a Tiki joint, a question to ask when the question is asked "How Tiki is...?"

I like it!!! An criteria question and easy reference. Simple and to the point. Nicely done.

I like it too! An often-used phrase in National Register of Historic Places nominations is "a sense of time and place." It simply means that if you're standing in a National Register district, in say Charleston, SC for example, you should feel somewhat transported to that local's period of significance. It shouldn't be difficult to imagine carriges in the streets, people in 1850's dress, ect. Modern billboards, sliding glass doors, asphalt roofs, etc. all get in the way of that sense of time and place.

A good Tiki establishment should also transport the visitor to a different place, perhaps a different time as well. Maybge this is getting harder to do these days; maybe people don't want to experience this in these times of chain-stores in every city and every state . . all alike.

On 2002-08-29 08:27, Swanky wrote:
Trader Vic's is the definition!

I agree with Swanky. Without Don and Vic there would be no tiki as we know it.
KG

On 2005-12-04 18:28, Kailuageoff wrote:

I agree with Swanky. Without Don and Vic there would be no tiki as we know it.
KG

THAT goes without saying, but to me it is ONE of the definitions...

But looking repeatedly at the beginning of this (well, now the previous) page, I am irked by a much more important question:

Where is AL !!! I miss his well informed and well illustrated posts!

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2005-12-05 10:56 ]

On 2002-08-29 12:00, thejab wrote:
tiki chris wrote:
"are there any purists that think a tiki bar should only have tikis - & if so do you not consider tv's a tiki bar?"

Hell no! I would agree with the other posters who feel that Trader Vic's (and Don the Beachcomber) invented the classy tiki bar/restaurant style by mixing various Oceanic and Polynesian arts with nautical themes (as being different from original non-classy tiki bars like the Tiki Ti, for example). It's the variety that makes it appealing.

But please save the african masks for the "safari" bar (like the one in the Florida Keys).

I agree & disagree. I prefer only tikis.

I also would like to have one room with only Hawaiian tikis, one with only Moai and one with only Melanisian - something for eveyone.

I would not have the nautical effect that many tiki bars, the Tonga Lounge, the Mai Kai and, Trader Vics, have.

M

Where is AL !!! I miss his well informed and well illustrated posts

Yes, Al is one of many TC'ers from way back that now seem to be MIA. There are quite a few, too many really. As I stroll down the melancholy lane of Tiki Central's past I see the faces of old friends. Through the haze of many late nights and emptied Old Fashioned glasses they appear. Their names may escape me, like my own at times, but the faces are familiar and comforting. The good times, the well font of information, the positive vibes and camraderie....

This is Tiki Central we're talking about, right?

Anyhoo, I must go now, the recollection of times passed has given me the vapors...plus "Charlie Brown Christmas" is about to start, and I am big Vince Guaraldi fan.

Wastin' away in Margaritaville,
midnite

The Trader Vic's look was whatever they could get for cheap under the umbrella of what they thought Polynesia was. It's good to mix it up!

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