PBA Online: Public Broadcasting Atlanta

Tiki Torch Nights

Tiki Torch Nights is a monthly celebration of “Tiki Culture” or “Polynesian Pop” held at Trader Vic’s, located on the lower level of the Atlanta Hilton hotel downtown. The Polynesian themed restaurant is named for “Trader Vic” Bergeron, a world traveler and gourmand. The first restaurant opened in 1934 in San Francisco. Trader Vic’s - Atlanta opened in 1976. Besides the good fun, food, dancing and drinks; Tiki Torch Nights include a lecture and educational slide presentation of Tiki figures found in the diverse Polynesian culture for interested patrons. A Tiki is a wood or stone image of a Polynesian supernatural power.”

The “Tiki Culture” experienced at Trader Vic’s is about reliving the American Polynesian Pop craze of the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Americans began taking notice of “island life” with the return of U.S. soldiers from the South Pacific after World War II. It was romanticized even more with James Michener’s South Pacific novels; play, and the movie “South Pacific”. Tropical beaches, lush vegetation, and beautiful natives seemed like Heaven on earth. With Hawaii becoming a state in 1959, this just added more appeal to island life. Some thought it possible to bring this feeling and way of life here to the mainland, at least for a night at a time. Thus, the Tiki craze was born!

Polynesian “primitivism” and native culture was Americanized with restaurants, hotels, shopping centers and other items fashioned in homage to island life. Starting in California, the Tiki craze affected almost every urban area in the U.S. Tiki was cool. But sadly, Tiki architecture and its motifs fell out of favor as a design choice and were viewed as some peculiar fad by the early to mid-seventies. By the ’80s, the mysterious civilization called Tiki was virtually extinct from urban areas.

For more information about Tiki Torch Nights at Trader Vics, visit:


Watch the video here »