Jo's Bar report


: : With an upcoming tour of Europe planned for our band, I checked the Internet for possible Polynesian rest stops. As it turned out, our tour manager, Gert, lives in Gierle, home of Tiki’s, Belgium’s only tiki bar. : :

: : When we arrived at Tiki’s, it wasn’t hopping but the place still had a fair number of patrons for 1 a.m. on a Tuesday night in January. Unfortunately, the band – The Nederbietles, a 60’s beat band from Holland – had finished playing for the evening but the house DJs, Dirk and Alberto, were still at it. A melange of surf, garage, rockabilly, and punk music was being blasted into the small club. : :

: : Tiki’s decor could be called Horror-Polynesian or Psycho-Polynesian – kind of like the designer had been slipped a little LSD in his Mai Tai. There was plenty of split bamboo and flower garlands but the main attraction was the papier-maché tikis. The monstrous, eye-bulging sculptures were created for the “Wild Weekend” (an annual European surf/exotica/rock’n roll free-for-all) and later purchased by bar owner Slim Jim Kontiki. In addition to the wild totems, the bar taps were crowned with skulls and ghoulish heads. While roaming around the club taking photographs, I was lured into the washroom by an exotic looking carving. As this is not the Mai Tai Porno issue (a future theme, John?), I didn’t get my photo – the washrooms had that European “we-are-all-together-in-this” type set up. I quickly backed out with my camera, hoping the guy at the urinal didn’t think I was a pervert. I needed a drink. : :

: : And speaking of drinks, this bar had a good choice of beer (as all Belgian bars do – the country boasts close to 1000 different brews) and liquor. In terms of exotic drinks, Tiki’s sported 6 or 7 types, of which I had the house speciality. God knows what was in it, all I can say is that it was blue and sweet, and gave me a terrific headache the next morning! As we were still jetlagged and had just played the first show of our tour before we hit the bar, maybe the drink wasn’t to blame. Points lost for the cocktail coming to our table in a regular glass – no tiki mug! Odd for a country that feels it is imperative for a drink to be served in its own special glassware (Leffe beer in a Leffe glass, Fanta orange soda in a Fanta glass, etc.). Gert, who had a hand in the inception of Tiki’s, suggested that this may be due to a problem of theft, as a fair number of items had gone missing from the bar over time. : :

: : Although the bar staff was friendly, I was mildly disappointed by the lack of waitresses in grass skirts, as this was mentioned and pictured on their web site. The DJs were quite accommodating and acted on my request to hear some vintage surf music. : :

: : While the bar did not deliver an “authentic” 50s North American style Polynesian experience, I did have a good time. It was hip, had great music, interesting décor, and friendly people. Two tiki thumbs up! : :



Jo Bradley © 2003


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