San Diego Swank: Tiki Convention

Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid and more cool people party, retro-style.

POP CULTURE TWOSOMES: The story of pop culture, those fancies and trends and entertainments and diversions that capture our attention, our time, and our wallets, is a fascinating one, and one that impacts the ways of the world at large. Something curious, though? Two trends that seem to have little in common often arise around the same time, and the very same people very often appreciate both, or, at least, lend their allegiance to one while admiring the other from afar. Think of the New Wave scene in the early 1980s as juxtaposed with the puffy-shoulder'd, flower-dress-y, return-to-nature trend, or, even, the tiki vibe of the late '50s and early 1960s, which thrived around the same time as The Beats. Tiki and Beat life don't seem to have much to do with each other at first glance, but at second? Oh yeah. They're both cool, stylish, down with what needs to be down with and full of poetry and panache. So they make the perfect partners at Tiki San Diego, the four-day, out-sized celebration devoted to the tunes, styles, and vibrant interpretations of a certain era. The "Beat-Tiki" weekend is on from Thursday, Aug. 14 through Sunday, Aug. 17 at a caboodle of spots around the city.

INCLUDING... a few hotels where a lot of the action will center. There are three hotel partners, so if you want to stay among fellow Tikians, check 'em out (and keep an eye on the Crowne Plaza, which is a centerpoint for the weekend). The oh-so-mid-century Bai Hai is the setting for a social mingle, too. As for the flower-shirt'd, beret-sporting to-do? Look for symposiums on Tiki and Beat culture, sing-alongs, Beat poetry writing workshops, a Jazzville dance class, fashion events, music events, singer El Vez, lounge-y comedy duo The Lampshades, a magical appearance by Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, and a whole bouquet of good things that look like they flowered in 1961. Have your lei and/or turtleneck ready? Go San Diego, cool cats.

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