When the hypnotic lure of Hawaiian Slack Key guitar infused with Nashville twang back in the 1930s, American music was forever instilled with the lovely tones of a new musical brew that was aptly described as Hulabilly.
Memphis based Elvis Presley’s “Rock-A-Hula Baby” in the 1961 Grammy-nominated movie “Blue Hawaii” set the genre firmly in the annals of American culture, flooding the airwaves and movie theaters with a truly unique fusion of seemingly disparate genres that married for life. Elvis’ Chadwick Gates was happy to be back home in Hawaii with his surfboard, his beach buddies, and his girlfriend Maile Duval.
In modern day San Diego, a vibrant tiki culture celebrates this faux Polynesian romanticized illusion of the South Seas through inventive and creative cocktails that reflect an island lifestyle — incorporating a variety of luscious rums and tropical ingredients native to the Caribbean region.
The central celebration of this fun-loving subculture is the upcoming Tiki Oasis festival in San Diego August 15-18 — centered around the Bali Hai restaurant and the Crowne Plaza Hotel — where fusion meets fusion as tiki sipping culture celebrates its Hawaiian musical influence with a plethora of Hulabilly inspired events.
Among the rum, the cocktails, the tiki statues and colorful flowers, a host of musical talent will set the mood for ethereal time warp travel back to the days when bikinis were invented, surfboards were the cool new thing and zombie cocktails were all the rage across a nation infatuated with tropical escapism.
It’s time to lose that shirt and tie, grab your flip-flops and shimmy on down to the beach where all the cool kids will be gathering for a weekend of groovin’ with a shared mission to rock ‘n roll — Hawaiian-Nashville style — while imbibing with fellow members of the tribe in an unabashed, unreserved, free expression of island living.
The 2013 Tiki Oasis festival offers a shopper’s village marketplace for tiki theme products, a gallery of tiki artists, a host of musical events on the main stage including a wild west Ukelele jamboree, a vintage car show, plenty of hipster tiki cocktails, tiki sightseeing day trips, a midnight cavalcade of top burlesque talent and a Sunday afternoon Chuck Wagon BBQ spectacular.
Chadwick Gates would heartily recommend you purchase a Full Weekender Wristband ($95) or the Deluxe Cocktail VIP wristband ($300) to really appreciate the depth and breadth of Hulabilly offerings, starting with the Meet and Mingle Thursday evening at the Bali Hai restaurant.
For more information, visit the Tiki Oasis web site.
Robert Burr is the National Rum Examiner. He publishes Rob’s Rum Guide and hosts the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival and Rum Renaissance Caribbean Cruise, in addition to organizing the International Rum Expert Panel (RumXP).