By Donovan Roche
Soon to celebrate its 19th anniversary, Tiki Oasis has become a San Diego staple. Billed as the original and largest tiki event in the world, this year’s shindig takes place Wednesday, Aug. 7, through Sunday, Aug. 11, and will feature live music, DJs, marketplace vendors, the Miss Tiki Oasis contest, a car show and numerous educational seminars, among many other activities.
Tiki Oasis 19’s theme — “Catch the New Wave” — is a nod to surf music and 1980s new wave. According to event producers Otto and Baby Doe von Stroheim, “This year we decided to explore the ‘Second Wave’ of surf music that happened during the early part of the 1980s new wave era. Our goal with the Catch the New Wave theme is to educate folks on this pinnacle in surf music history.”
Some of the acts bringing their surf sounds to Tiki Oasis include Agent Orange, Jon & the Nightriders, Insect Surfers, The Fleshtones and new wave pioneer Gerry Casale (co-founder and bassist of Devo), who will play hapa-haole versions of his favorite songs with a band created just for this event. Known as Tiny Bubbles, the group also features members of The Maikai Gents, The 16 Eyes, and The Hula Girls.
This year’s “Catch the New Wave” theme will be explored in many ways across the event’s five nights and four days. Highlights include a meet and mingle on Wednesday’s opening night (at the Bali Hai on Shelter Island), an art show on Thursday, singalong with King Kukulele on Friday, Q&A with executive producer of the documentary “The Rise and Fall of the Clash” on Saturday, and a bartenders battle on Sunday. The event moves to Crowne Plaza Hotel in Hotel Circle Thursday through Sunday.
One of the big draws this year is sure to be the Hanalei luau on Thursday (for which tickets can be purchased a la carte). “People have been asking Tiki Oasis to host a traditional luau for years and, finally, we are excited to offer an over-the-top luau feast with crafted tiki cocktails, suckling pig and a full Polynesian revue,” the von Stroheims shared.
Conceived in 2000 as a fundraiser to support the rehabilitation of the Palm Springs Caliente Tropics Motel, Tiki Oasis originally attracted a small group of about 50 tikiphiles. The event moved to San Diego in 2006 and has grown to include two venues, dozens of artists and more than 100 vendors. This year’s celebration is expected to attract over 3,500 attendees.
“The first event was like a backyard party with friends coming together in a historic tiki setting,” said the Stroheims. “Now 19 years later, Tiki Oasis is a much larger event, but it still feels like a gathering of friends and family. The Ohana spirit is strong.”
To purchase tickets to Tiki Oasis or learn more about the event, go here. And if you’d like to catch the wave a little early, check out this Spotify playlist.
Donovan Roche has covered the world of music for more than 30 years. Send him your story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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