Tiki Oasis: 20 years of fun under the Sun 20th anniversary celebration July 28th - August 1st, 2021
SAN DIEGO, CA- This past July San Diego was the hub of the Tiki lifestyle as guests to the 5-day event donned on their best tiki attire and grabbed a delicious rum-filled cocktail.
Tiki Oasis has been doing events for 20 years, but the tiki lifestyle was first introduced in America in the 1930s with the movie Bird of Paradise (1932). The lifestyle, however, didn’t gain major popularity until the end of World War II and boomed with Hawaii becoming a state in 1959. This resulted in the fascination of the Pacific Islander fashion, music, culture, and a peaceful outlook on life.
That lifestyle was alive in well in San Diego with 5 days of seminars, meet-ups, dancing, pool lounging, cocktail tasting, shopping, contest, and much more at Tiki Oasis.
The event took place this time in San Diego’s Town and Country Resort which I might add was the most perfect backdrop for the event. This hotel is a mid-century modern paradise dream. The hotel first opened its doors on December 25, 1953. In 1961 the hotel expanded with 80 more rooms, a coffee shop, event space, and the Tiki Hut meeting pavilion. Over the years there have been renovations to the rooms and modern upgrades, but they have perfectly preserved the mid-century aesthetics throughout the grounds. I was blown away by how perfectly it embodied the late 1950s/60s when the tiki aesthetic was in full swing, from the buildings’ architecture to the pool, to even the outdoor area with Adirondack chairs sitting on fake turf grass, absolute perfection. So many guests were enjoying the California sun enjoying their cocktails as surfer music played. With the perfect setting and people dressed in their ultimate tiki attire for a moment, I didn’t even feel like it was 2021, It was as if the past year and a half was a distant memory and for a few hours I would totally be in paradise,
The wonderful thing about Tiki Oasis whether you are there all 5 days or in my case just a few hours you will find your own bit of fun at the Oasis.
My first thing to do was hit Market Place, Now there is tons of shopping to do here. There is something for everyone from true vintage tiki clothes and accessories, reproduction vintage, awesome art, cool drinkware, and cocktail-making accessories.
I got some cool things from Jeff Granito. I’m a huge fan of his artwork, he’s done some cool mash-ups with Tiki and Disney, that’s just freaking awesome. Picked up the Red Lei Lounge shirt, Jessica Rabbit meets tiki-style, personally as a redhead I had to have it in my t-shirt collection. Also had to have some tiki room bird swizzle sticks for my little bar cart.
Another great booth was Surfside Sips, the owner Andrew started blowing glass 5 years ago and started the company in 2019. Personally am a fan of glass straws because they just are easier to clean than silicone strays and we should try even if it’s a little thing like purchasing glass straws for your cocktail drinks, they are environmentally friendly and adds an extra touch of beauty to you delicious Mai Tai. Of course, right next to Surfside Sips was Omar Girona with his sick tiki mugs. One-stop shopping for your perfect barware accessories.
If tiki isn’t your thing completely I did like Carrie Anne Hudson’s work. She had some pretty awesome gothic-inspired art that I adored.
For the fashionistas, there were plenty of pretty things at Catnip Vintage and Casa de Los Flores had some amazing jaw-dropping floral hairpieces.
Seriously one can do some damage to your bank account if you spend too much time here, but it’s all worth it because supporting artists and small businesses is a key factor in building strong communities. I always love going to these types of Conventions because I always do some of my Christmas shopping. I mean sure a gift card is cool, but wouldn’t Star Wars-inspired tiki drinkware from a local artist, be even cooler?
Now it was time to get to a big part of the Tiki Oasis, the seminars, and did I do a wide range of seminars this time around. The ones I selected could not be any more different from each other, from tales of the jungle cruise to rum tasting, and finally learning how to hula.
The first seminar was The Jungle Cruise: The Wild History of Walt’s Favorite Ride presented by David “Dr. Skipper” Marley who not only was a professor teaching history at Cal State Fullerton he was at the same time skippering the boats down the river of de Nile. I’ve attended his seminars in the past and honestly I laugh till I cry, but I always learn something new.
For instance, Marc Davis who was a big Imagineer that helped design Jungle Cruise had not been to Disneyland until 1960 even though Disneyland was open for 5 years and he lived in Burbank. Marc Davis was the one who took the ride from being fun to being funny. There was a lot of research in creating the ride including research on different tribes from around the world. Initially, when the Jungle Cruise set sail the boats were all pristine and immaculate. Walt Disney wanted everything to look sparking new. It turns out Walt loved the Jungle Cruise and often would go about the dock at night smoking his cigarette. As skippers moved around the waters at night in the distance you could see a faint light, Walt Disney taking a smoking break.
Another interesting, but shocking, fact was back in 1974 women were allowed to be Skippers but that lasted for only 3 months. Why only 3 months? Apparently not Disney, but guests would complain to Disney’s City Hall that the female skippers weren’t funny so women were eliminated and the position of skipper would not be filled by another woman for about 20 years. That’s right, not until the mid-90s would Disneyland allow females to be skippers of the Jungle Cruise. Thanks to Sue Barnaby who complained that Walt Disney World allowed female skippers and how come Disneyland. That’s right Florida unlike California didn’t have restrictions. Some things never change. So as a result Sue being the squeaky wheel she got to steer the captain wheel of the jungle cruise, paving the way to other awesome female skippers. Yay Sue!
Though the biggest change has come in 2021 when the Jungle cruise got rid of the famous Trader Sam, no more trading your head for two of his. In its place, you now have a backdrop of a store, because massive consumerism is the true message of Disney. Make sure all rides end at the gift shop.
It’s always great seeing David “Dr. Skipper” Marl he’s lectures are hilarious. Almost wish I can take one of his classes. If you love all things Disney and especially the Jungle Cruise, check out one of his many books including The Jungle Cruise: The Wild History of Walt’s Favorite Ride.
Well, it was past noon so one starts to develop quite a thirst so it was fitting the next seminar was a tasting. Tastings are an additional fee of $20. In the past, the tastings were part of the ticket to the event. I will say personally I am more of an Irish Whiskey gal, but it’s nice to venture out and try different spirits than what I usually drink. The tasting was amazing a range of rums, a tequila, Anchor Brewing IPA, a coconut mixer, and a piece of chocolate. It was great to hear the presentation from each distiller. Many of the rums presented at the tasting actually have connections to the Philippines and my personal favorite rum was Don Papa Rum, the sweet notes of banana and Carmel, so delicious. Liquid Alchemist was also another favorite of mine.
Randy Tarlow first began creating a mixer in his kitchen in 2007 with his first flavor Almond Orgeat. In 2009 he created Liquid Alchemist they have several amazing flavors for all your cocktail mixing needs. The coconut flavor is one of the best coconut mixers I’ve tasted. The mixer is not overly sugary, it’s almost as you got a fresh coconut and cracked it open to have a taste. At the sample tasting, one could go to each distillery’s table and get a little sample. the mixed cocktail Pain Killer from Pusser Rum was amazing. Then I tried a gin at the Plantation Rum’s table. The gin is under the label Citadel Gin de France Garden D’ ete. I will be honest, I usually hate gin, which is weird because I can drink Aquavit with no problem, but usually, gin and I don’t mix, however, the Citadel gin was beyond lovely, so smooth with light hints of floral and fruit notes. It was delightful, the first time I really enjoyed gin. This whiskey girl was pleasantly surprised that there is a world outside of Jameson and Teeling Whiskey and it’s delicious.
Well now that I have partaken in the proper Tiki Oasis experienced and had some cocktails. It was time to learn to Hula. I love to dance and have done swing, waltz, salsa, but never hula so why not try something new. Miss Motu Neheneke was absolutely amazing, she taught each step, including the Hawaiian phrase for the steps, and the meaning from kaholo, Ka’o, to Ami, to aloha. By the end of the session, all those steps were put together to one whole routine to a song. It was pretty amazing and such a workout. I am a fan of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and even weight lifting but this workout that was very low impact had my muscles in my arms really sore, major cocktail calories were burned. I wish I lived closer to San Diego cause I would definitely take her hula classes. The best part is all ages can do the Hula young or old. She mentioned her 81-year-old mother does the hula and being that it’s low impact it is a perfect workout, plus it’s fun and doesn’t even feel like a workout.
There were so many more fun activities to experience but sadly my time in San Diego was cut short. There were burlesque shows, performances from bands, DJs spinning until the early morning hours for you to dance your cares away. Not to mention the crazy fun room parties in the hotels I sadly missed out on. I took a quick stroll outside the pool area to see beach balls being tossed in the air as go-go dancers danced to the sounds of surfer music. It was a fun day and all of the events of the past year and a half disappeared for those few hours in San Diego.
I love Tiki Oasis. I’ve been to many Cons over the decade from the Comic Cons to Viva, even historical costuming cons, but there is a sense of peace and tranquility I experience at Tiki Oasis that I don’t experience at any other con. Tiki Oasis truly is a little bit of paradise tucked away in a little hideaway in San Diego. I hope next year to make it all full weekend of even more cool seminars, cocktail sipping, pool lounging, and dancing the night away. Hope to see you next year at Tiki Oasis for some fun under the sun.
For more information regarding Tiki Oasis check out their Facebook page and their Tiki Oasis website. May you find your own special Paradise.