Home to not only the world-famous Mai-Kai, but also the Wreck Bar - which features one of the last remaining live underwater shows - we've long had Ft. Lauderdale on our list of "really want to see" places. For years we've also wanted to attend the Hukilau, which when you think about it, gives you the chance to do and see all of those things and more.Given the proper frame of mind you realize it would be silly to not go. We were honored to be asked to present our Aquarama symposium at the Hukilau this year which added one more thing to the overflowing "Plus" column for us.
Here's a quick list of just some of the things you can expect at the Hukilau: Friendly people, great live music, room crawls, a visit or two to the Mai-Kai, a show by Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid and her Pod at the Wreck Bar,new friends, wonderful symposiums, and possibly a cocktail or two. Here we go...
A close-up of the amazing artwork created for our Aquarama symposium by artist Nicholas Dewey.
Thursday night kicked off at the Bahia Cabana with performances by the Intoxicators! and the Tikiyaki Orchestra along with special guest Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid. After seeing the two team up at Tiki Oasis last summer we couldn't wait. The evening went late into the night with the Master Mixologist Challenge anda few different room parties.
Marina demonstrates how she earned her stage name.
Friday's line-up had something for everyone - amazing vendors, a Meet & Greet with Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, and live music and dancing from 7:00 pm - 2:00 am in the hotel ballroom. 6:30 pm was the big one for us - Marina and her Pod performing at the Wreck Bar. A short walk up the street was all that was needed to slip back in time 50 years.
The former Yankee Clipper Hotel - now known as the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel
The above photo is a look inside the Wreck Bar prior to opening for the night. Over the years the Wreck Bar has been reduced in size, however it's nice they've still maintained the historic appearance. Although we noticed a sign saying the room had a maximum occupancy of 45 people we'd guess there were easily 150+ people squeezed in for the performance! It was fantastic to see the appreciation for this bit of history.
Marina appears both in the window of the Wreck Bar and the viewfinder of a camera.
An upside down greeting of the crowd.
We shot this video to give you an idea of what a Friday night at the Wreck Bar is like.
After the show everyone has a chance to have their photo taken with the Wreck Bar performers.
Between the Wreck Bar and the Bahia Mar is this other great bit of Florida history - The Jungle Queen Riverboat.
Saturday was our big day. We were excited to share the history of the Aquarama with a new group of people and had planned a few surprises. Thanks again to Marc, we had for the first time several of the original Aquarama costumes to share with the audience including bathing suits and mermaid tails. We also shared home movie footage from 1965 showing such Florida landmarks as Cypress Gardens, Goofy Golf and a rare look at the Mai-Kai. It was a pleasure to end our presentation with Marina who took questions from the audience and also shared a bit of her knowledge and deep appreciation for underwater performance past and present.
Another look at the hand-tinted artwork created for our syposium.
We wanted to say thanks again to everyone that came to our presentation - we hope you enjoyed it. It really was our pleasure to share the story & history with you. Also a special thanks to Lewis, Chris, Marina, and Christie, who made it all possible behind the scene!
Mrs. Roadside & Marina model Marina's famous red mermaid tail - which thanks to Marina is now a part of the Vintage Roadside archives. We look forward to sharing this great piece of history!
Saturday's heavyweight event was the dinner show at the Mai-Kai. Opened in 1956, and legendary for it's decor, gardens, and cocktail selection, we couldn't wait to see it for ourselves. It's almost impossible to describe due to the sheer amount of...well, everything. Throw in the largest crowd of the year and it becomes quite an experience. Needless to say, if you enjoy tiki & Polynesian history and you ever have the chance to visit it's well worth it. Here are a few photos we shot that night.
The front of the Mai-Kai. Fountains + lights + tropical foliage + fire = perfection.
One of the countless carvings in the gardens.
More carvings along with a variety of bamboo make a great screen.
A couple enjoying the ambience of the Mai-Kai gardens.
For those fans of Stinky here he is posing with a few of the Hukilau left-overs at the registration booth.
If you made it to the Hukilau we'd love to hear your stories and see your photos. Please feel free to share on our Facebook page located here!
We'd like to finish off this post with a few thank yous to some of the people that made our first trip to the Hukilau so incredible. First a huge thanks to Christie for inviting us to join the event, to Marina for being a part of the Vintage Roadside family, Lewis & Chris for saving the day on Saturday morning, all the Hukilau staff & volunteers for keeping things rolling, Rick & Julie for making the drive down, the staff of the Mai-Kai for amazing service in the midst of the crush, Marc & Ann, all the Aquamaids & Aqualads, and lastly to those of you we finally got to meet in "real life" - let's do it again soon!
Jeff & KellyVintage Roadside