Everyone say it with me… Ohana. means. family.”

If you don’t get that reference, then you must not have been a child, or at least a childlike adult around the time the Disney movie Lilo and Stitch was a hit. Regardless, if you’re in the cult of polynesiana, (I’m fairly certain I just made that word up, but I give you permission to use it) then you no doubt are familiar with the Hawaiian word, and it’s literal translation. What you may or may not know is that, like so much of the Hawaiian language, it’s actual meaning is much more nuanced than just that simple concept “family“.

You can fact check this with database of your choice, but the gist is that, as much as Ohana refers to your kin and your relatives, it also alludes to something more spiritual about the relationships you share with people near to your heart; your “inner circle” if you will. Many, if not most of the people you might know who associate heavily with modern tiki culture have probably expressed this sentiment as being a big part of what draws them together. Sure, there’s a number of reasons to be enticed. Maybe it’s the cocktails, or the exotic themes, or perhaps the soothing sounds a crooning falsetto gently strumming a ukulele… Whatever your particular lure, for me, all of these things ultimately translate to impassioned social interaction and mutual appreciation for all things escapism.

You might have heard people complain about a distinct lack of social connectivity in their local tiki scene, or maybe you, yourself are experiencing a dire sense of longing over my flourshy description of tiki ohana. If so, you might, in fact, live in a tiki dead zone. But, I’m here to tell you there is hope! Let me introduce you to my ever growing tiki ohana.

tilted MNtiki 3

These fantastically frocked, perpetually pupu’d, lavishly libated, and literally alliterated, beaming individuals, represent a small portion of the group I’ve dubbed MNtiki.

I feel like I’ve touched fairly extensively on the lack of real tiki influence in my home state of Minnesota. No doubt, there are much worse places to expect to thrive as a true tiki enthusiast, (I’m looking at your North Dakota) but relative to some other areas, it can feel pretty isolated. However, just about a year ago, after somewhat of a “eureka” moment, it occurred to me, that surely there are other people, in my area, that feel the same way I do.

One day Critiki.com posted that they were looking to add social groups to their database. It wasn’t until that moment that I even thought to see if there was a tiki group in my area. So I did some digging on the interwebs and concluded that there was, in fact, nothing! So I promptly went on Facebook and created the group MNtiki. From there, I invited a couple of people I already knew, they invited a couple of people they knew, so on and so on, and the group has been steadily growing since.

So… you ask, you’ve got yourself a social group, now what? Well, you get social… As of writing this, I’ve arranged two very successful outings. One was at Psycho Suzis motor lounge in Minneapolis, and then a few months later we met again at the Tilted Tiki in Stillwater. I was fortunate to have these perfect public locations to break the ice and I was honestly surprised to find how excited people that I’d never met, were to come out and bond with perfect strangers over their love of tiki. Particularly in today’s society, it can raise a good bit of anxiety to try to stand out and express your passion, but when twenty-plus enthusiast, dressed in their most vibrant aloha wear, come together in their natural habitat and nerd out for hours over cocktails, home bar decor, tiki bar bucket lists, and just about everything else, people notice.

In my version of a perfect world, walking into a proper tiki bar, you would find everyone looking this good, and having this much fun. Until that day, I’ll hopefully see the MNtiki ohana continue to grow and continue to inspire others to get into the spirit. Because, just because you don’t live in a Polynesian paradise, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to live an Aloha lifestyle. With the world what it is these days, I can’t think of a more important sentiment to impart on each other.

I hope this influences more of you to find ways to seek out your tiki ohana. Or, you’re always welcome in mine.