Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Raising the bar: tattoo tiki

The National Tattoo Museum - Mad MoaiI've got plenty of new bar suggestions, but just for a moment I want to go back to the Tiki bar concept. That's because I just had an idea of the perfect location for such a bar: the National Tattoo Museum on Abel Smith Street.

The location is good (far enough from the Courtenay hordes, yet close enough to Cuba Street) and it would help form a cluster with Havana and the Southern Cross. But it's not the location itself that interests me, and the last think I'd want to do is suggest that the museum be pushed out to make way for the bar. On the contrary, I think the museum should open a bar, making use of its existing exhibits and decor to create a truly unique spin on the Tiki bar experience. They've already got this mad moai glowering over the entrance to set the mood.

Everyone agrees that the museum is a great thing to have in Wellington, but they've been struggling to get the visitor numbers required to pay the rising rents. By incorporating a bar, they could ensure that the exhibits are seen, pay some of the rent, and add a unique venue to the Wellington scene. Part of the building could still be set aside as a more serious museum, but there should be enough room left over to mix moko and Mai Tais. They could also use some of the carpark area on the Wigan St side as an outdoor bar (with bamboo walls and flaming braziers, naturally).

The National Tattoo Museum
Of course, tattoos aren't just about Polynesia, and the museum covers other cultures and contemporary counter-cultures as well. But this is exactly the sort of Tiki bar that I had in mind: not so much an upmarket lounge bar, but something a bit more Cuba Street, the sort of Tiki bar that Eyeball Kicks would create if they were so inclined. Maybe they'd play Martin Denny exotica on a midweek night, but crank it up at the weekend with the Chandeliers or the Mysterious Tapeman.

I hope that this doesn't sound like a frivolous or disrespectful suggestion, or a resort to the notion of the "exotic" to cheapen a serious mission. But the musuem itself has been happy to use drummers, fire eaters and body-painted models to enliven their fundraising parties, so this could be seen as a permanent party to fund the museum and get greater exposure for a fascinating exhibition.

And just in case you think it's strange to be obsessed about wanting a Tiki bar, read this excerpt from a recent editorial in Modern Drunkard Magazine:
Local publications and pundits have long found pleasure in labeling Denver a Cow Town, an oversized burg with big-city pretensions but lacking the sophistication and culture to back it up.

And up to three weeks ago, those decriers may have had a foot to stand on. But no more. Denver is now a real city. A full-fledged metropolis. And if you think I'm saying this because of the recently opened opera house, you couldn't be more wrong.

I'm saying it because Denver finally has a Tiki bar.


At 2:58 pm, March 01, 2006, Blogger Kate Borrell said...

Sounds like a great idea (the bar and the mayoralty)

At 3:42 pm, March 01, 2006, Blogger s. said...

Tom, you should either run for mayor, or have a cage-fight with David Farrar.

Actually, you can do both if you want to.

At 4:00 pm, March 01, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

I don't even want to run for council! Imagine being stuck between Jack Ruben and Rob Goulden every day: bad for one's mental (and perhaps physical) health.

Nah, I'm happy just "sniping from the sidelines", as Cr Ruben once accused me of doing. I'd quite like to put my money where my mouth is and either start a bar or be a property developer (an enlightened one, of course!), if I hadn't already put all my money where my liver is.

At 4:26 pm, March 01, 2006, Blogger Hadyn said...

Mmmm tiki tiki tiki,

And thus, the rebellion rises.

Pina Coladas for the people, Mai Tais for the masses!

At 4:32 pm, March 01, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Hadyn: maybe you could mention it to the Eyeball Kicks people, since you said they're keen on the idea of a tiki bar?

And does anyone know someone associated with the tattoo museum? I could email them directly myself, but I'd like to sound out whether it's a sensible idea before barging in.

At 5:02 pm, March 01, 2006, Blogger the_sifter said...

I've spent some time in Denver.

It *is* a fucking cow town, tiki-bar or no tiki-bar.

It's like saying Levin would be a bustling metropolis if only it had a tiki-bar...

At 10:35 am, March 02, 2006, Blogger Kate Borrell said...

Why Sifter - you're so well travelled! You're truly global.

At 1:17 pm, March 03, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Now, now, Sifty, have you been to Denver since the Tiki Bar arrived? There may be a subtle change in the air, a frisson of urbanity where once there was just a bovine miasma. And besides, Denver can't be all bad, being the home of such a touchstone of literary and sociological excellence as Modern Drunkard Magazine.

At 1:31 pm, March 03, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Speaking of which, here's some more on the Denver bar in question, Tiki Boyd's.

At 4:26 pm, March 03, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Absolutely. B Kliban would advise against eating anything bigger than one's head, but he never said anything about drinking.

I think there may still be some idiotic law against that, but it didn't use to be the case. The Park Royal had a vast cocktail called the "Basin Reserve", and Sol used to serve jugs of Margaritas, but I've been told that it's now illegal to serve anything containing spirits in large containers. Which is stupid in the case of drinks with mixers: you can buy a bottle of wine that contains at least as much alcohol.

Mind you, Matterhorn must find some way around it with the Bling Bling, which is fairly enormous, and I've heard suggestions that FBB does some cocktails by the jug. So what gives? Would it be legal to serve giant Tiki bowls, or rum in hollowed-out pineapples?


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