My pupils, the size of a pinhead, take in the hustle of the valet attendants whose hurried motions cause nausea in my belly and pain in my head. Early morning in Las Vegas.
Some coming. Others are going. Many are looking to find Thompson’s American Dream.
Each day and night in this city becomes a bender, what starts as innocent toe-dipping in the pond of debauchery, can easily become a full dunk baptism in this city of sin.
“Where you headed?”, asks the perky young man, who can hail a cab, open a door, and complement one’s attire with a condescending tone that makes one feel obligated to tip. An individual whose rank on the ladder of success could never be aligned with his status of mind. An individual who can balance position, responsibility, and obligatory compliments with a suave and arrogant certainty of self.
“1712 W Charleston Blvd”, a state with certainty and pass my door attendant a well-deserved fiver for being a better man than me.
Rays of the morning sun, now well over the surrounding Mojave mountains, are quickly warming the dry desert air. Our cab turns to the west. The glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas Strip fall behind. We are entering into the area of the Las Vegas locals.
Neighborhood bars and casinos cater to the everyday man. Transient individuals and down on their luck groups live their days here. In the shadow of wealth is want. Caught in the undertow of the ebb and flow of the powers that be. People wander, damned to serve a life sentence in a world they were born into without council, insertion without representation.
A quick lefthand turn and we have arrived.
Nestled between strip malls and gas stations, hospitals and homeless shelters is our destination. Frankies Tiki Room.
Exiting the car we make our way towards the door. The sun right above our heads. Blistering rays. Blinding light. We open the door.
Darkness. Pitch black. Like someone has placed a shroud over our eyes.
Our other senses heighten. Cool air and sound of conversation, unfamiliar music pulsates pleasantly within our ears.
We stand still, mesmerized by our surroundings. Naive and innocent. Expecting the worse but willing to experience any trauma and terror we have wandered into.
Our pupils dilate. We begin to see. Warm reds and cool blues shine like celestial bodies across the ceiling. The flaming cherries of cigarettes hung in the darkness, aloft, seeming to float.
Each ember intensifies and brightens with the inhale of the darkened individual escaping the realities of the outside world.
With a new sense of sight, we find our way to the bar and soon discover a world unlike none other.
The world of Tiki.
A variety of textures begin to grab the attention of our senses. Our eyes strained to view deep into the dark corners, where the glow of tobacco fire pulsated like beacons in the dark night. Our tounges confused by the multi ingredients of the drinks strained to find a hint of liquor, carefully disguised in the cocktails. Thick dark woods, burnt and scarred all around, nothing soft or smooth, but all inviting.
Then confusion set in. A product of the pours. Then numbness and peace. In this strange new wonderful world. We allowed ourselves to be enveloped into the embrace of the out of the way establishment on Charleston Blvd.
We did not want to leave.
So we decided to bring Tiki to our home.
There was a room in our home that really did not have a purpose. A computer and a couple of guitars called it home. The room felt cold and uninviting just wasted floor space. Today, it is our paradise. Our portal to ultimate escapism deep in the heart of Texas.
We had a lot of Tiki – ish items around the house. Our bar is actually an old workbench that my daughter and I made years ago. New top, some stain, little bit of carving, some light, and wallah.
The room really started taking shape once we got the bamboo in.
Scouring the local resale shops for vintage or new. Some homemade like this lamp thing.
The obligatory netted ceiling with random flotsam and jetsam was a must.
Thatch made a huge difference.
Mixing Frankies drinks right at home.
If the thought of creating a space like this has ever entered the mind – do it.