I became a fan of mid-century Polynesian Pop (i.e. Tiki) in late 2003. In April 2004 Halé Tiki opened in Augusta, GA just 50 miles from my home. At the time I thought Augusta was an odd place to open a full-on Tiki bar because the city is not known as a tourist destination and most themed bars thrive on tourism.
Even though I worried Halé Tiki would not survive, I never took time to visit. Not experiencing Halé Tiki, not attending the 2004 Hukilau and the cancellation of the 2008 Follynesia Tiki carving weekend top my list of Tiki-fandom regrets. These failures delayed my exposure to wonderful people and Tiki events for years. Oh well, at least I can relive some of these happenings through videos like the one below. We get to peek into places that have survived like the Mai-Kai (Fort Lauderdale), Trader Vic’s (Atlanta), The Omni Hut (Smyrna, TN) while also reminisce about tiki palaces lost like Hale Tiki.
“2005 Turner South Blue Ribbon series turns to Tiki and spotlights 4 places in the South. Some Mai-Kai scenes shot during my Hukilau event with James Teitelbaum and others. Hale Tiki in Augusta I helped build with Crazy Al, Bamboo Ben and a lot of Basement Kahuna’s work. The majority of the pieces were from a PNG collector in Indiana we visited. The Omni Hut section was great as it gave me history of the Mahi Mahi in Nashville as well as the Omni Hut. Nice to see Big Mike Geier at TV ATL with Tongohiti.”