Design East of La Brea, (AKA de LaB) once again finds a cool way explore surprising corners of the city where food, fun and aesthetics merge. The Tiki Trek on Thursday, July 23 takes a close look at the trend that's found a recent nostalgic resurgence in L.A., with new incarnations of Luau and Trader Vic's.
Historians and Tiki experts will be on hand to check out and discuss three old school locations where the kitsch was sincere, the word "authentic" took on bizarre meanings, the crowds were hungry for food set afire and thirsty for ginormous bowls of exotic-liqueur spiked drinks served in comical vessels.
In all seriousness, there's a lot to explore about Tiki culture. Historian
Mirta Viviane Gilson, who will drop some serious Tiki knowledge on the crowd, explains that the Tiki Trek "is the first part of a larger place based storytelling series with Popsicles for Everyone. For Tikitown, USA we wanted to reach out to creative people who are looking for visual as well as contextual inspiration. People who don't take L.A. for granted and want to look at places and times that are not necessarily in most Angelenos consciousness anymore but are nevertheless influential."
Co-organizer and design aficionado/writer/gelato expert Alissa Walker looks forward to Tiki getting more respect, too. "A lot of people think of Tiki as kitschy or cheesy or associate it exclusively with flaming drinks -- but most people don't know its architectural significance to L.A.," she explains.
Folks can meet up at any or all of the stops along the trek, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at Bahooka in Rosemead. Jonathan Gold described this awe-inspiring establishment as "the kind of place you'd expect to find near a scruffy tropical seaport - all rusted nautical gear, stolen street signs, and scarred dark wood, lit like a navy-base bar and with more bobbing tropical fish than you'd find in a Jacques Cousteau special." If the place has maintained its consistency in the years since these words were written, take Mr. Gold's advice and order a Shark's Tooth or Cobra's Strike along with a plate of Exotic Ribs.
Next on the tour is the Kona Kai Apartments in San Gabriel, then things will wrap up at the Tiki Ti in Silver Lake. At which point you might be horrified to think back on all the pineapple rings and glazed food morsels consumed. Not to mention notice that pile of cocktail umbrellas littering the car floor.
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Bahooka: 4501 Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead.
Kona Kai: 6415 Rosemead Blvd., San Gabriel.
Tiki Ti: 4427 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake.