By Erick Lappin
When you go to an event and the door guy takes a Sharpie and draws a happy face on your hand because they ran out of wristbands, then you know fun is on its way. And it's likely helped along by the free drink that comes with your parking ticket.
That's how things unfolded Saturday at tattoo, boutique, and bar Kreepy Tiki in Fort Lauderdale. It was the fourth edition of the Revenge of the Tiki festival, a full-day affair that stretched from noon to 3 a.m.
After a three-year gap, Monterey Club promoter Rob Stannard and Kreepy Tiki owner Jackson Valiente combined an exhibition of classic cars from the '40s, '50s, and '60s with live music and sexy pinup and burlesque shows -- in two different spots, both inside and outside at the big parking lot in rear.
"When we started the first time, my partner and I did everything ourselves," said Stannard. "Now, we have a full-scale stage. Besides growth, we have more vendors this year."
Eye-popping automobiles were parked in the store's driveway on South Federal Highway, welcoming people as they entered the shop. Some acts performed inside, a very kind and literally warm move for those Floridians not built for the chilly winds that blew Saturday night.
In there, you could also have tattoo masters put fresh ink in your skin or buy some stuff from their pinup parlor. Kreeky Tiki is a hub for pinup culture in the Fort Lauderdale area. It's actually putting the vintage scene in the map with its rockabilly-inspired products and the Revenge festival. "We realize there was nothing like this in this area," explains Stannard of its popularity.
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The ladies made their way to the main stage about 8 p.m. for a sexy contest, so that's when the party really heated up. These beautiful gals not only dressed like they were teleported from America's Golden Age but they actually spoke and gestured in old-timey fashions. Single mother Veronica Blackshire won the contest. "I grew up listening to music from the '50s and '60s," she said. "Then I turned 40, and I wanted to do something totally different from what I usually do." As far as her beginnings as a pinup girl, she said, "a lot of people seem to enjoy it, but a lot of people don't have the guts to do it."
All day in the rear parking area, people made stops at the kiosks for food, rockabilly dresses and accessories, and artisanal, esoteric, and vintage items. Back there, people rocked their bodies to the beats of bands onstage flanked by classic cars.
Revenge of the Tiki IV had about 23 acts that spanned genres, from country, punk, and metal to everything in between. The sonic menu included Black Cat Attack, a horror-punk band from Ottawa, Canada. Rockabilly bands Cuban Pete and the Hialeah Hooligans and Lara and the Ark Tones hailed from Hialeah (naturally) and New York, respectively. Well-known country singer and songwriter Wayne "The Train" Hancock even performed late at night.
Second time playing the Revenge of the Tiki stage, El Bastardo, singer and acoustic guitarist for Los Magnificos Bastardos, said, "This is awesome. I'll be here every year!" He ended their song "Samael" with a cappella vocals. The crowd responded with glee and a loud ovation, offering one of the coolest moments of the evening.
In fact, the audience was the most impressive component of the affair. Some may associate old cars and vintage culture with older people, but this was a multigenerational event. It had it all: VW wagons, cowboy boots and hats, bouffants decorated with tropical flowers, choppers, curly mustaches, hipsters, and even an acid punk trio called Fate Punx made up of very young musicians whose fingers plucked the strings with the speed of light. And of course, there was a lot of grease.
I take notes of my observations on my iPhone and must admit I felt like a weirdo using it. Literally nobody was talking on the phone or texting (including younger people). It made me realize this event had a different vibe.
Some in the audience traveled far and wide to be there. That was the case of Nadeem Khan, a classic car aficionado who traveled from Orlando to be there. "I don't do this for a living. I love cars, man," he said, "I'm hanging out with my brothers and sisters having a great time." And on the type of automobiles the tiki followers build, he commented: "There is no period range. It could be from the '30s, '40s, '50s, or '60s, but it has to be authentic. It's all about purity. Modern parts and old parts don't mix. We don't like modern shit, and others think we're assholes for that."
Kreepy Tiki's owner Valiente concluded of the fourth installment of the Revenge of the Tiki: "This is a way for us to celebrate with a big-ass party our lifestyle and bring everybody together from far away." And it surely did.
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