It’s time once again for one of my very favorite tiki events, Hooptylau in California’s Central Valley. This event celebrates both the Central Valley’s rich tiki history, and its inherent trashiness. Attendees are invited to bust out their most questionable aloha wear, with the most outlandish winning prizes (this year’s challenge is to combine western wear with aloha wear). At last year’s event, we returned to our two rented vans after our visit to Minnie’s to find that we’d interrupted someone in the middle of siphoning gas out of them. Hoopty! This year, my mom, the Schmama Lama, will be joining us — she went to Hooptylau in 2004, and she’s been singing the Hooptylau theme song ever since.
It’s taking place Saturday and Sunday, September 16 & 17. Here’s this year’s schedule:
- On Lock Sam’s in Sacramento — not Polynesian, but an intruiguing old-school Chinese joint in downtown Stockton with “Mafioso curtain booths” — and they serve tropical drinks.
- Pollardville Chicken Kitchen — again, not Polynesian, but this building was once the great Islander in Stockton. In the mid-’80s, it was moved and turned into a fried chicken joint. It’s being demolished in the coming year, and we’ll visit it to pay our respects and load up on alcohol-absorbing greasy chicken.
- The Dark Marq Room — this is the home bar of Hooptylau hosts, the drunken hat and tikicleen. Enjoy their massive collection, heavy with Islander memorabilia, and some excellent mixology.
- Tropics Motel & Tiki Lounge — the Tropics was once one of the Ken Kimes chain (which included what is now the Caliente Tropics in Palm Springs), and has some massive Ed Crissman rootball tikis. The motel has weekly rates, and there is usually some laundry out to dry on the chain link fence that separates it from its former bar, the Tiki Lounge. The Tiki Lounge is still operational, but smartly wants nothing to do with its former partner — today, it’s a semi-restored gay bar, with central fireplace and bamboo booths.
- Minnie’s — the queen bee of Central Valley tiki, Minnie’s would be a gem in any city. The Chinese food is surprisingly good, and the restaurant is full of not just tikis, but many oil and black velvet paintings by Burke Tyree. The drinks don’t match the quality of the food, but one drink — the Jerk — is a must-have for the uninitiated. It’s borderline hazing, but you’ve just gotta suck it up.
The next day, the gang is invited to a day of restoration at Jungle Trader’s Outpost, a lush backyard paradise (Jungle Trader is a landscaper) complete with a brand-new swimming pool.
As I hinted at above, the theme this year is Western-meets-Tiki, so get to brainstorming about how to work some dusty boots into your most garish aloha outfit. For full details, including how to get tickets, and where to stay, check out the thread on Tiki Central.