The Hula Girls were super excited to return to and perform at the Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale, FL, this year! We played one show at the Pier 66 hotel and one at the legendary Mai Kai... and along the way, there were a bunch of cocktails and fun late nights!
...but even before we left LA, we found a 'tiki lounge' at LAX. The heavily advertised 'lounge' was actually just a few terrifying 'cocktails' on a table menu. We decided not to enter the madori and grenadine-laden 'lounge.'
After six hours of travel and getting in to the hotel around 3am or something, we awoke the next day, just in time for Marina's Mermaid show at our own hotel.
After a few cocktails, we ran into our buddy, Bamboo Ben, who easily convinced us to join him over at the Mai Kai.
It had been about 4 years since we were last at the Mai Kai and I can't tell you how much I missed it. It's an incredibly special place.
As an artist, it's incredible to be walking into a giant 'art piece'... As a fan of history, it's a real life fantasy to be imbibing and dining at a place that has survived development and the societal changing fads since the 1950's... and as a tiki fan, it's just the best, most impressive tiki establishment on the planet. The food is delicious, the cocktails and their presentations are unparalleled, and the decor is immense and detailed...
A true treat.
I finally got the cocktail that I had been waiting 4 years to enjoy, once again; The Black Magic!
For those not 'in the know', the Mai Kai still creates and serves cocktails the way that they did it back in the 1950s, as invented by Donn Beach. There are servers at the bar who take your order and bring it back to a small window. From there, a team of bartenders furiously whip up the cocktails. It's somewhat odd to be in a bar where you don't hear blenders or mixers going or shaker tins rattling... Odd, but enjoyable.
The main reason that Donn Beach implemented this process is to keep the mixing from prying eyes and from competitor spys. There are still several closely guarded drink recipes at the Mai Kai.
One of the Molokai Bar maidens...
Ginger, in the amazing nautical themed Molokai Bar.
Exploring the Mai Kai gardens with Veronica and Ginger...
Every nook and cranny of the Mai Kai is designed and themed with such incredible detail.
Our girls look right at home in that environment.
Cocktails while we explore the expansive and maze-like Mai Kai.
There are so many tikis in the Mai Kai gardens, but this Hawaiian style Ku is especially impressive
The next night, it was time to perform. So many great performers at the Hukilau. We really enjoyed the all-girl Canadian surf band, The Surfrajettes!
Some burlesque from Lila Starlet
...and Miss Jayne Champagne
And then it was our turn.
Here's Ginger with a fella that I've known for over 15 years now, Hukilau Emcee, King Kukulele.
We couldn't have had a better reception from the East Coast crowd!
Saturday night, it was back to the Mai Kai for our second performance.
The outside of the Mai Kai takes on a whole different look at night!
Veronica and Ginger joined Shorty and myself for the dinner and floor show at the Mai Kai.
Lots of characters at the Hukilau.
Our buddy, Crazy Al, was set to perform a male Mystery Bowl presentation for charity but needed a gong man to join him. Somehow Shorty was asked to join him.
It was pretty funny... and raised a bunch of money for charity!
The Surfrajettes in the Molokai Bar. We played in there about four years ago.
The Stolen Idols in the Tahiti Room. There isn't much better than live vibraphone at the Mai Kai.
We were the final band of the night and had a blast performing in the Tahiti room in kind of a 68 Comeback Special kinda of set up. There wasn't really a 'front' to the stage. We just faced all different directions. Our girls were dancing around the room... We played a tribute to the recently passed Batman star, Adam West. It was a BLAST.
After our show, I cruised around the garden, shooting some photos. If you want to see more of my photography work, go to
@spikeandthecamera on Instagram.
Nicole, from the Surfrajettes, with a friend.
...and later that night, Ginger, on the docks in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The last day, I decided to milk the Mai Kai for all my trip was worth... One last visit before I had to get on the plane! I sampled about 5 different cocktails and took a tour around the building with Bamboo Ben and Marina.
Ben found a fish float lamp full of water! The management quickly remedied that situation.
An impromptu photo shoot with Marina where Ben felt that it needed some soy sauce to add 'drama'... or something...
One of the highlights of the Hukilau was receiving a private tour of the Mai Kai's behind the scenes operations. There was much more to the tour than just what I filmed, but I thought that most people would be mostly interested in seeing the kitchen bar.
What an absolutely incredible trip. Thanks so much to Richard and the Hukilau for having us. Hopefully we'll be back sooner than later!