Cultural appropriation vs Magical wonderlands - Part 3
As our plans grew for the party I have always loved heavily themed places. Growing in up California I spent allot of time at Disney. I loved the Tiki room. That and Columbus OH used to have an amazing place called Kahiki that sadly went out of business and was removed shortly after I moved to ohio. We were going to combine the idea's together on a smaller scale.
However, the more you learn.... the more problematic you learn of our past. I'm always a little annoyed at how little history I actually learned in school. As I dug into Tiki Culture to get theme idea's the more I learned it had allot problems.
The end result was we abandon the idea of Tiki all together, I'll give a very short overview as to why. I encourage everyone to learn more, the history is actually very interesting. Keep in this is short short version.
Tiki Culture begins with Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt who later in life for marketing reasons changes his name to Don the Beachcomber or Don Beach. When Prohibition ended in 1933 he opened a bar in Hollywood called "Don's Beachcomber", Don had been sailing around his adult life to that point and collecting nik-nacks everywhere he went. This became the "exotic decor" it pieces from nearly every port in the Pacific, including Hong Kong. It wasn't really cultural specific.
He invented a number of cocktails for his bar, which are amazing to this day. Such as the Zombie, Q.B. Cooler (Mia Tai) and the Cobra Fang. The cocktails were a return how cocktails used to be. During prohibition cocks became ultra simple, like vodka in orange juice. The colors weren't super great, so cups were made to serve them in, coconuts, cups shaped like bamboo, and of course the iconic tiki head.
He took current "Chinese" food that was invented for American's wish something exotic added pineapple and tada, a new crazy food adventure to be had. Many of these are stables and can be found at Chinese food restaurants throughout America today.
The place was decorated in allot of bamboo to make it seem exact, and was pitch on a promise of if you can't travel somewhere exotic, then somewhere exotic will come to you. This is innocent enough, the start of "tiki culture" is one of Hollywood fantasy which can be perfectly fine. Although the Tiki's are the gods of islands so it would be like drinking out the head of Christ or the Virgin Marry for Americans.
The real problems come in after Don Beach returns from WWII (with a purple heart) many veterans come his bar and release that not at all what being the south pacific was like. They started to ask for authenticity which lead to more or less the ran sacking of cultural icons to put on display for profit. The fetishizing of islanders, Imperialism and exploitation is problematic.... So yea. We are going to pass on this. But it's a complicated issue..... It's was hard for me tell how offensive is tiki culture really. Truth is, I love the fantasy of it. Please do your research.
It's an Island Escape
there is nothing with generically island themes, although my bar leans heavily on my favorite city New Orleans and on the Caribbean.
No tiki head cups, no tiki mask, no Miah (witch are from Easter island), the talking mask was removed from the plan, even though I had a working prototype. We now going to switch him to a parrot. For general theme I selected a number of images to use as inspiration.
The goal was to create a "dark night scene" with warm light around the bar, and cold light around the outside walls, but with the bright colors seen in this images. If you look at the final bar, I'm sure will see the inspiration taken from these. Now that is "look" has be decided, it's about ready to start the build. To be Continued in the next part....