After The Pandemic Pause, Tiki Oasis Returns To Celebrate 20 Years
Art Show, Marketplace Open To Public Through Sunday
When you arrive at Tiki Oasis, you are transported to another world where people are perfectly coiffed and made up and impeccably dressed.
“The idea of Tiki, and its roots, was the idea of adventure and beach combing and so very comfortable light clothing in general and anything that evokes the island feel,” explained Gregorio who was wearing an aloha shirt.
Longtime attendee Jim Moore described the event as, “It's just a bunch of just crazy, kooky, mid-century, fun, tropical, fake-tropical, Polynesian wackiness. And it's a blast.”
But there’s one thing Tiki Oasis is not, and that’s about the real world. It's about fashion, cocktails, kitschy fun, and most of all, escape. For two decades Tiki Oasis has boasted that it’s the biggest Tiki Weekender on the planet and will quell your wanderlust and quench your thirst.
“It is just five days full of fun, music, drinks,” said Phoenix Ablaze who is also Miss Tiki 2019.
But maintaining an oasis in a world still dealing with COVID-19 and mounting social justice issues can be a challenge.
“Like life, it's a balance of just knowing the escapism, but know that there are real world problems that are out there,” Phoenix Ablaze said.
In an attempt to address that balance Tiki Oasis created the Diversity and Inclusion Council. Both Gregorio and Phoenix Ablaze serve on the council.
“So the Diversity Inclusion Council was created last year, and, you know, we as a group came together and we felt like we wanted the the event to be safe and inclusive and just for all attendees to feel like they belong here,” she said.
Gregorio added, “ So one of the things that’s been said is vintage aesthetic not vintage values. And with the Diversity Inclusion Council is how do we help those who really don’t know what Tiki Oasis is or what Tiki itself is to see this as a welcoming, inviting environment for everybody.”
Over the past year the council has done a number of virtual events.
“Just talking about various subjects is like Chinese influence in Tiki, talking about the history of the hula girl and what that means,” Phoenix Ablaze explained. “Just unpacking as much as we can to move away from the cultural appropriation and really just understand the history of Tiki as how it evolved.”
Tiki Oasis hopes that it too can evolve and in a way that allows it to balance escapism with cultural sensitivity. But at its core it is about escaping reality, and the allure of something that just seems exotic.
Gregorio recalled, “As a child, I used to see the bars that were hidden within Chinese restaurants, and they always they're always dark but ominous. They had colored lighting and, you know, tropical plants, some of them real, some of them fake. But as a as a child of about seven years old, I noticed these cool little tiki mugs that they were drinking out of and was so fascinated with that. And that's really where it started for me.”
Artist Jim Moore has been attending Tiki Oasis for years but decided this year to finally come as a vendor to sell his Moore's Monsters. He makes amazing ceramic monster sculptures inspired by movies such as “The Creature From the Black Lagoon,” “Alien,” and “Planet of the Apes.”
But people kept asking him what do the sculptures do? And that inspired him to start turning some of them into lamps and Tiki mugs. The Creature is his most popular seller as both a mug and sculpture. The large sculpture uses more than a dozen molds and then requires painting and glazing.
The Tiki Oasis marketplace where Moore will be selling his art is open to the public through Sunday. Also free to the public is the Art Show. The main event, which is being held for the first time at the renovated Town and Country Resort, has been sold out for weeks but you can still get tickets for events on Sunday featuring local bands.
Last night Tiki Oasis ushered in a new era for the Miss Tiki competition, which for the first time not only allowed men to enter but picked a man to wear the sash and be the organization’s brand ambassador for the next year.