Our intrepid reporter Claire Gormly, boarded a spaceship to Planet Tiki recently, to write a beginners guide to Tiki Oasis - the world's original Tiki Weekender. If you have read our latest Exotica issue and want to delve into the genre first hand, we suggest you read on and start saving for Tiki Oasis next year!
Following my trip to the US, one thing I have learnt about New Zealand is that it is tiny… teeny tiny. This is particularly applicable to the vintage scene in New Zealand. If you, like me, are used to the teeny tiny, then Tiki Oasis will blow your mind! Bigger in everything, is better. But more about that later.
What is Tiki Oasis?
In the 1990’s a group of people in the US started hunting for 1950’s Tiki pop culture items in thrift stores. Bought together by Otto Von Stronheim, they began to have Tiki Mug parties and the appreciation of Tiki culture grew. Then 15 years ago Otto and his wife Baby Doe started a festival to celebrate all things Tiki.
Tiki Oasis is held at the Crowne Plaza hotel in San Diego, California. The hotel used to be called “The Hanalei” and a number of its original 1960s features, such as the waterfall and palm trees, are still there.
The most coveted place to stay is at the hotel. It has 400 rooms and sells out within the first 5 minutes, so be prepared to act quickly, and get on the newsletter so you know when ticket sales begin. There is a Motel 6 next door – an inferior but cheaper option. The Kings Arms is “over the road”, however it is actually a freeway and if you do not have a car you will have to prepare for the shuttles to get back and forth, and the queues that ensue!
These days the event has a few key features – dressing up, live music, vendors, symposiums and world famous “Room Parties”.
What to wear at Tiki Oasis?
Each year has a separate theme which has a connection to mid century culture. This year was space, so there was an emphasis on “atomic” space-age looks. But as Tiki is the main focus, you could (as I did) dress in mid century vintage or reproduction clothing and will fit right in. You will see many Paki Muu’s, Shaheen sarongs and tiki prints. And lots and lots of hair flowers!
This is where bigger is better comes in to play. Think big hair, big flowers and bright, bright colours. The best part of it for me was seeing women of all different shapes and sizes rocking vintage swimsuits, go go girl outfits and looking crazy-sexy with it. If you head along feel free to bare those legs, because everyone else is!
Plan for two outfit changes a day - you will want daywear and something dramatic for night to keep up with the other guests. Often the themed outfits come out at night, and this includes men and women by the way. Gents are just as sharply dressed and there are a lot of Cabana suits, Hawaiian shirts and great themed outfits.
What to do at Tiki Oasis?
A very good question. There are so many options, day and night time. You can be educated at a symposium, watch live music, visit the vendors marketplace, hang out by the pool, hang out with friends in the shade. There is a pin up competition, a best dressed contest and a car show.
At night there is live music on the stage until 10 pm, then the room parties begin.
Room parties are a phenomenon! A hotel room, with all the furniture removed, with bands and burlesque. Each room has a free bar, sponsored by drinks companies or bars. Partygoers walk around the hotel complex popping in and out of parties, the most popular ones have large queues. In spite of all the free booze, I was very surprised at the decorum of the punters. I couldn’t help thinking that if this was New Zealand it would be rather messy in comparison!
Be prepared to make new friends – everyone is super friendly, once you know one person they will introduce you to all their friends. Also be prepared for lots of compliments. People are not shy in telling you if you look good, this goes for men and women – get used to it.
I truly had one of the best weekends of my life. Sure, the pressure to keep my look perfect and make sure I didn’t miss out on anything was high, but it was a three day blast!
To see more photos from Tiki Oasis 2015, visit our Facebook page.
Please make sure I am not the only New Zealander there next year and join me poolside!