Last Saturday was the opening night for a month of celebrations at Oceanic Arts in Whittier. Bob Van Oosting and LeRoy Schmaltz, the “Godfathers of Tiki” are retiring after 65 years of creating carved wood buildings, bamboo thatched huts, enormous wooden tikis, signs, and props for clients like Disneyland, Trader Vics, and countless hotels and tiki bars. “Aloha, OA” is a month-long celebration, exhibition and auction for Oceanic Arts produced by Peekaboo Gallery, a new concept in “the curation, exhibition and sale of exceptional antiques and collectable memorabilia.”
The evening opened with the mellow island sounds of FAIVA, a trio of life-long musicians–Dr. Grant Muagututia, Vaea Ae’tonu and Loa Greyson. The band, who are all of Polynesian descent, just released their first single on Valentine’s Day. We enjoyed the music while checking out the food stands and trucks. Anarchy Seafood impressed us with their gorgeous Albacore Sashimi Bowl, and Salmon Poke Nachos, which were a crowd favorite. Peruvian Scallops in the Shell with bacon aioli and chili crunch broiled onto the seared scallops, were still tender and quivering. The Anarchy Chowder, which included snapper, crab, shrimp and clams, was multilayered and comforting. You can find them at Smorgasburg every Sunday. orting. You can find them at Smorgasburg every Sunday. The Salsizzle Alta California Grill truck was serving up Huitlacoche enchiladas and delicious tacos al pastor.
Aloha Pineapple (Formerly The Dole Whip Guy), had a little truck and was offering this frozen gold at very reasonable prices. It definitely satisfied my Whip jones. The owner told me that Disney had even hired him to park outside of their Burbank studios. He thought it was a crank call at first. You really need to have this truck at your next event!
I wandered inside for “The Godfathers of Tiki Slideshow Hosted by Jordan Reichek with Sven Kirsten.” The presentation followed the format of Jordan Reichek’s 500-page book of the same name about Oceanic Arts. (Buy the book HERE!) The author, along with Sven Kirsten, and in conversation with Bob Van Oosting and LeRoy Schmaltz, presented a comprehensive history of Oceanic Arts and delved into their influence on Polynesian Pop.
The Dancing Fire, a performance company based in Los Angeles, blew me away with their Polynesian dances and impressive fire dancer. The show spanned the globe, from hula and Tahitian dances to a Maori Haka. Besides being skilled dancers, they are all stunning and charismatic. I could not stop taking pictures of them!
Jason Lee and the Black Tides played their instrumental surf exotica inside the build where I was exploring the cocktail bars. The bar was brought to you by my local watering hole, and the longest running Tiki Bar in Los Angeles, Tonga Hut. They offered specialty cocktails at $13 a pop. We tippled The Bermuda Dunes, which was made with Don Q Rum, Don Q 7-year Rum, Orange Curacao, Pimento Dram, Orange and Lime. We also enjoyed the specialty of the day, the Oceanic Arts Hai’Ball, made with Don Q Passion Rum, Don Q Crystal Rum, Grand Gala, Honey, Lime, Passion Fruit Juice, and Angostura Bitters. We missed out on the Italian Zombie, because somebody had to pour me into the passenger seat at the end of the night. Tonga Hut also has a location in Palm Springs, where else?
We also missed the Hukilau Hotshots’ retro steel guitar, as well as DJ Sailor Mike’s set of vintage music. Something to look forward to at our next tiki event, I guess. I often cover events as an outsider, and I have to say this was probably the most accepted I have ever felt. It was an extremely cool vibe, everyone was friendly and welcoming, and happy to pose for pictures. They definitely exuded the spirit of Aloha!
Aloha, OA’s event producer, Ehron Asher has told the LA Beat that you can still purchase tickets for the final event, Easter Island Funday: Family Day at OA Sunday, April 17, 2022 11am – 6 pm with hula lessons, lei making, limbo contests, music by Jason Lee and the Riptides, King Kukulele and the Friki Tikis, Coco Tiki, The HILO Hi-Flyers, and DJ Lance Rock from Yo Gabba Gabba! Plus, there will be a Moana and Maui Meet and Greet, Kids Under 10 Free. Reduced Cost Tickets for adults and kids age 11-17. And DOLE WHIPS!!! Proof of vaccination required. $59 for adults, $29 for kids 11 – 17. TICKETS