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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki Disappointed in Las Vegas (long-re: Taboo Cove/Venus Lounge)
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Disappointed in Las Vegas (long-re: Taboo Cove/Venus Lounge)
Tiki Centralite

Joined: May 21, 2002
Posts: 31
From: Pittsburgh
Posted: 2002-07-05 10:31 am   Permalink

Hi all,

I recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Vegas. I was out there with my parents to celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary. Since they grew up with, and lived, the original tiki culture (and my dad was stationed in the South Pacific in the late 50s)I thought it would be a treat to take them to the new Tiki Bar, Taboo Cove, at the Venetian Hotel, as well as the neighboring Venus Lounge (think leopard carpet and Rat Pack). Taboo Cove is billed as Vegas' first authentic Tiki Bar in 40 years; needless to say, I was really looking forward to this. After seeing Don Rickles (amazing!!) at the Stardust Hotel my parents and I headed over to "paradise" to immurse ourselves in Martin Denny and Les Baxter and to drink zombies out of devlish tiki mugs. As we drew closer to the establishments I nearly forgot how to walk as I was so overwhelmed with anticipation. Upon entering Taboo Cove one is surrounded by a beautifully realized Tiki Bar, aesthetically speaking that is. Puffer fish, lanterns, old album covers, fishing nets, etc.. BUT, one is also treated to the rapping of Missy Elliot and similar music. My parents first reaction was, "What the hell is this music!!" I expressed my surprise, too. I informed them that we were listening to a type of music popular in urban areas. They asked where Don Ho, Mr.Denny or Mr.Baxter were. I didn't know. I proceeded over to the bar to order some drinks with the intent of asking about the lack of music of the Exotica genre. Well, the bartenders are kids (19-25) who had no clue...or class..at least the one who grunted at me was of no help at all. However, one of the bartenders was nice and sympathetic. He explained that they play top 40 in this bar, but that the Venus Lounge plays different music; we'll get to that later. When I asked why they didn't play authentic tiki-type music, I believe the response had to do something with ignorance about this type of music, as well as the need to attract a certain type of (young) crowd; okay, I'm 37 and may not appreciate Ms. Elliot and her contemporaries, but why create this "authentic" paradise only to fill it with noise??? Okay, that was not fair, but what I heard was not congruent with the setting. At any rate, I order drinks and ask to see what collectible tiki mugs they had. I was salivating for I was coveting Bosko's collection behind the bar. Alas, THOSE are only for show and do not reflect the selection available to the public. Offered were the obigatory hula girl, a Fu Manchu, a very small Moai good for shots, and what looked like a Sleeztak from Krofft's "Land of the Lost" (70s kid show). So, up to this point we have poor music and a rotten mug selection. I tried to remain optimistic, for the Venus Lounge would open at 11:00, and boy oh boy did it look swell. Very swank, cool and authentic looking. My parents having lost faith decided to leave. I walked them back to their hotel feeling sad that this was not the time I had planned for them. I head back over to the Venus Lounge, and as I'm walking up the side of the establishment I hear this heavy, thumping techno type music coming from inside. You know that sickening feeling in your stomach and guts where you feel like your getting diarrhea and there isn't a bathroom for 100 miles?? That's what I felt upon hearing this. I compose myself and walk to the entrance where I am greeted by Pauly, the congenial manager of the lounge. As I say hello to him, I look inside only to have my worst fears confirmed. This was no lounge, it was just another club pumping out the same corporate crap that one could hear anywhere. A large lump formed in my throat as I watched all of the MTV kids dancing in their metallic tops totally oblivious to the sacrilage that was taking place. Where were all of the mom and pops who used to cut a rug while listening to Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Bobby Darin and similar?? Hell, I would have settled for a chunky, middle aged woman in a polyester pantsuit, with heavy eye make-up who reaked of AquaNet; but alas, no. A little melodramatic here? You betcha. But why not???? Vegas (this country) has toooooo many of these places, why not follow through and make the ambience complete??? I'll tell you why: money!! Pauly confirmed this after I was done blabbing and blubbering about my disappointment, which in the grand scheme of life and the universe really isn't important; I do realize this. Apparently, Taboo Cove and the Venus Lounge originally played authentic music to fit these establishments (which are rather new to the Venetian). However, since business was not up to par with this format, the big boys came in and made some changes to boost business. And these are the changes that my parents and I saw. I did call the Venetian the next day to express my feelings and I got the obligatory "I'm sorry, we'll pass on your comments" answer. I told them that I spent $40 on drinks at Taboo Cove; they didn't even budge and say, hey, we'll give you a coupon for some free Clark Bars at our gift shop!!! So much for customer service. Aside from my comments to Pauly, I also left a message with the Venus Lounge/Taboo Cove answering service. No return call from them. Okay, I was a pain in the ass. But, people, when in Vegas, I would highly recommend that you do not visit these places, for you be extremely disappointed if what you seek is a throw back to a simpler, more original and exotic place and time. I think I feel better now that I got this off my chest. Hope to see you all in Atlanta in a few weeks. Which reminds me, I better book a room!!!!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 22, 2002
Posts: 115
From: Hobbs, New Mexico
Posted: 2002-07-05 12:45 pm   Permalink

Sorry about your disappointment, Tommy. But let's be realistic here. Do you, or anybody on this board think that a 1950's tiki lounge, or rat-pack sleaze lounge, that was truly authentic in every detail could bring in enough business to stay open? Sure, it would be great as a museum of tiki, or a place to film the occasional movie scene, or a super clubhouse for the Tiki Central tribe. But, it wouldn't stay open more than a month. I would love it if Taboo Cove were able to stay true to the genre, but I would rather see it open with crappy music than closed and the mugs and decor put back into storage somewhere.
Take what good you can find in a place. As far as Taboo Cove, don't go expecting so much and you'll actually enjoy what there is to see. The bamboo, tikis, awesome mug collection, pictures, memorabilia, Bosco carvings and Shag artwork next door make it well worth the trip. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let's see, can I come up with any more cliches?
I think we tend to become so emmersed (sp?) in tiki culture that we expect every detail to be authentic, when it never will be. The only place you'll ever find a truly authentic 1950's tiki bar is in the 1950's. And even back then I'm sure some joker was playing the wrong kind of music on the jukebox.

Mark Cotton
I buy old poker chips from casinos and private gambling clubs anywhere.

Thank God the Tiki Bar is Open!

[ This Message was edited by: jukeboy56 on 2002-07-05 12:47 ]

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 30, 2002
Posts: 52
From: Las Vegas, Nevada
Posted: 2002-07-05 12:57 pm   Permalink

You can't blame them for changing it to make money and besides most people that come to Las Vegas aren't looking for Tiki Bars

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: May 21, 2002
Posts: 31
From: Pittsburgh
Posted: 2002-07-05 2:11 pm   Permalink

I appreciate the two responses above, and I thank you for taking the time to jot your thoughts down. Responding to Mattio: Yes, I realize people are out to make money...this is the unfortunate necessity of our world-the need to make money. This is why we have TV commericals, and TV commercials are why my mute button and I are very close. At any rate, time goes on and things change; for the better? Yeah, sometimes. My little rant on this forum was to simply point out that if you're striving to capture some of the past, don't just let money rule you, let your soul get in on the game, too. And it's that simple, these places lacked the soul that they try/tried to emmulate. I don't live in the past and don't expect things to be like they were 50 years ago..not at all. Just saying they missed the boat. And Mattio you're right, most people probably don't come to Vegas looking for a Tiki Bar. But wouldn't it be refreshing to find a place there that would give you a glimpse into the past, a time when there was a lot more soul?? A time when people talked about more than sports and microbrews. I think the younger generation would appreciate it, hence the current lounge/swing revival. And again, this is all trivial in the grand scheme of things. For those of you who are kindred spirits and know where I'm coming from, feel free to post many responses. If you've missed the boat here, let me know, for your next beer at Hooters is on me. Hmmm, Brittney or Christina??? Oh the choices!! Remember folks, this is all in fun.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 1230
From: 37? 47' N, 122? 26' W
Posted: 2002-07-05 6:39 pm   Permalink

The Vegas Tiki situation has been rehashed many times here and back at Yahoo!..with special emphasis on Taboo Cove.

Bottom line, new owners, new business approach. The location is horrendous, and they don't get much support from the Venetian. I will be going back to Vegas in a month, and will go to Taboo, as well as a few others.

It's all there is, Bosko's work is a must-see and what ya gonna do? Nonetheless, the music and television turn a fantastic room into a "so-so" destination. Look at the bright side and think, cool Bosko. Or look at the down side and think, boy could this be better.

A Tiki Bar should not play the music they do(nor have MTV on, uggh), just as I would not expect a biker bar or country/western juke joint to be spinning surf music.

Taboo cove gets an "A" for Bosko's efforts, and a "C+" due to the above mentioned missteps.


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Douglas J. Hann

Joined: Jun 29, 2002
Posts: 3
From: Minneapolis, MN
Posted: 2002-07-06 08:42 am   Permalink

Tiki Tommy,
You are more than justified about your feelings and sentiments regarding this establishment. I am not quite as cynical as the previous respondents to your message it seems. The Taboo Cove was billed as an AUTHENTIC Tiki bar. You were correct to expect it to be such.
I am 37 years old as well and I CANNOT stand Rap "music". I can handle punk rock, opera , anything but NOT that godawful noise.
When I want to hear Frank or Dino or Martin Denny that's what it has to be or I start throwing people around. Just kidding.
Anyway, the 60's will not come back. Drink a zombie and build a Tiki bar in your basement. If you do let me know and I'll come over with some ladies and help you enjoy it.


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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 24, 2002
Posts: 50
From: Pioneertown,CA
Posted: 2002-07-06 3:21 pm   Permalink

Hi tikitommy,
I think there is people who really want to go back in time and see how it existed.Bosko and Shag cooperated and made it cool,but what can you do about the other people?Everyone just settles for music that they think everyone else likes so they go along.I can just picture you taking your parents and expecting a retro time.Too bad it didn't go as planned.I think you should treat your parents to a time at your place with the music and environment you desire.Don't depend on others to make it for you.Not to say we shouldn't contribute and keep these establishments alive because there is a lot of talented people involved and not too many places like that around!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11606
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2002-07-06 6:00 pm   Permalink

Tiki Tommy, this is a genuinely moving tale. It was like the collective Tiki Central was sitting by the couch that you were lying on, while you were gesticulating and sharing your traumatic experience:

"Yes, my son, that must have been very painful," Dr. Tiki Central would say, nodding sympathetically,"Yes, it is a crime, we know..."
TT:"...and the dissappointed faces of my parents will haunt me forever!"
Dr.TC, mildly reprimanding:"We understand your pain, son...Now: Why did you not come to us earlier, you could have saved yourself from this shock..?:
TT: "..???!"
Dr. TC: "You should have gone to SEARCH under subject VEGAS and TABOO COVE, and it would have left you a little better prepared for this encounter.."

But, kidding aside, this does point to one of the weak points of this lovely board: All the wisdom of just a few weeks ago and anything before that is (seemingly) "gone", nobody goes there, and we have to learn anew...
PLUS the rupture from YAHOO Tiki Central is an even more unbridgeable gap:

I remember a fascinating series of posts on Yahoo about the Taboo Cove AT EXACTLY THE POINT where the money people where firing the regular Lounge band and handing it over to a Techno promoter. I even passed some on to Bosko, who voiced his regret at being powerless. He simply was burnt out from the continous struggle and compromise it took to get the thing done at all!
The whole downslide began when the big opening bash was cancelled due to 9/11. It has been the Venetian's stepchild ever since, totally underpromoted and forgotten.

So, for Douglas to come along and say "..but Taboo Cove is billed as an AUTHENTIC Tiki Bar!" is a consumerist attitude (just like complainig about the food and service at the Royal Hawaiian) I have to warn about. Be grateful for what is out there, and tolerant of what is not.

Hear this then: The Book of Tiki is a totally idealized view of Tiki Heaven, manipulated by my choice of the 'best only' images and some romantic prose. For example: Not ALL Tiki Bars played Exotica, and the white trash that frequented some of them was perhaps the equivalent of those Venus teenies...

The Urban Archeologist regards the layers of social and economic change that obscure his object of research still as fascinating cultural context, even if what he sees hints at the decline of civilization.

This is NOT to say "give up", and not to discourage voicing your feelings to the management. Way to go, Tommy.

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki on 2002-07-06 19:24 ]

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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2989
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2002-07-06 10:04 pm   Permalink

I found your report to be very accurate from what I experienced on visits I made there last Fall, that I reported on Tiki Central. I totally appreciate your honest opinions and I don't think there is anything wrong with having high hopes for a place, especially when it was originally promoted as being authentic with original drink recipes. Never trust an advertiser's words (sorry, tikifish!) is probably a good credo, but the involvement of Bosko and Tony Ramos made me hopeful, too.

I disagree with the members who think one should just try to ignore the faults of Taboo Cove just because the decor is so cool. I think one should be more critical of new places than of original tiki bars because it gives people good ideas on how to do it right.

I noticed you didn't mention the drinks. I thought they were awful.

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Tiki By CC
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 24, 2002
Posts: 24
Posted: 2002-07-07 09:23 am   Permalink

Just For the Record ,What did You folks have to say about "Toucans Tiki Lounge"?!?Palm Springs.
I l00ked on search didnt C anything....
p.s. You guys have to sneek into the girls potty & check out the painting!!!

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jul 07, 2002
Posts: 96
From: Minneapolis, MN
Posted: 2002-07-07 3:07 pm   Permalink

So, for Douglas to come along and say "..but Taboo Cove is billed as an AUTHENTIC Tiki Bar!" is a consumerist attitude (just like complainig about the food and service at the Royal Hawaiian) I have to warn about. Be grateful for what is out there, and tolerant of what is not.

Buddy, the whole American system is about consumerism and "give them what they want"(not by my choice, mind you). Too much tolerance in the wrong circumstance can breed dilution and impurity. Bowing to the tastes of the masses just brings about more homogenization. size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SlovakTiki on 2002-09-04 08:24 ]</font>

[ This Message was edited by: SlovakTiki on 2002-09-06 23:01 ]

[ This Message was edited by: SlovakTiki on 2002-09-06 23:06 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11606
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2002-07-07 5:30 pm   Permalink

"Buddy"..? ..tisk tisk, the youngens, so impetuous.
I am sorry if I appeared to believe that my word is the "rule of law", t'is not so. I am merely observing, drawing conclusions and making recommendations based on 12 years of Tiki archeology. You fight homogenization your way, I fight it my way, to each his own.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2370
From: Corona, Ca
Posted: 2002-07-07 8:58 pm   Permalink


Poly-Pop *

Bartender, make mine a glass of WATAHHH!!!!!

[ This Message was edited by: PolynesianPop 2013-02-04 20:18 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 23, 2002
Posts: 1874
From: Tiki Central
Posted: 2002-07-08 02:24 am   Permalink


On 2002-07-05 10:31, tikitommy wrote:

but why create this "authentic" paradise only to fill it with noise???

Good question. We see this time and time again: San Fran Bay bars Lilo Lounge (R.I.P.) Bamboo Hut, Tiki Tom's, etc. Why would you go through the trouble to create a whole Tiki Bar (which is rare) and then go on to not fill it it with the right music?

Here are my thoughts:

On the Tiki Crawl we got a lot of people who absolutely love the decor, the whole concept, the drinks, etc, but are totally ignorant that it's a Scene (most of these people are Driftwood though; people who join the crawl while hearing about it while at one of the stops).

I guess, for a lot of these people, there is no connection between a Tiki bar and Tiki music. Most of them have never heard of Exotica. Perhaps they enjoy the Tiki bar becuase it reminds them of a trip to Hawaii or other tropical islands. Of course, you have about as much chance at hearing Exotica in a bar in Hawaii as you do in the states. So their memory is of sipping a Pena Colata at a Resort Bar, with decent hawaiian architecture and plants, but with a TV tuned to CNN and Madonna playing in the background.

In a way these people are more pure than us Tikiphiles here becuase they're not interested in experiencing a long-lost moment from 50 years ago, but rather to reexperience something they experienced themselves in the last, say, 10.

So there's a big disconnection there... perhaps to the layman a Tiki Bar isn't retro at all (just tropical) but Exotica is.

Okay, that was a little rambling. It's late. Er, early.

(a little off-topic but check out some of the music listed at the beginning of the
Modern Tiki Music thread.


[ This Message was edited by: hanford_lemoore on 2002-07-08 02:25 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 26, 2002
Posts: 2639
From: Seattilite Telstar
Posted: 2002-07-08 06:48 am   Permalink

Even if a topic was discussed back at Yahoo or just a few weeks ago everyone should feel free to express an opinion or ask a question. I hope no one holds back for fear they'll get a "Yeah, we talked about that last year" response, particularly new members. Using the "search" feature is not always the answer to a question, I've never encountered a search feature on a bulletin board that yields satisfying results. This isn't unique to bulletin boards, searching through old material in any format (magazines, cassettes, hieroglyphs) is a pain.

This thread meshes well with the recent discussion started by the75stingray as to whether a new Tiki bar/restaurant would have a chance as a business venture. The Las Vegas casino scene is not the best gauge of general consumer activity but there's probably some wisdom to be gleaned from the Taboo Cove experiment.

As for the music played in Taboo Cove... Suddenly reggae or Jimmy Buffet doesn't seem such a bad choice for a Tiki bar, does it? If I make it to Taboo Cove before it get's turned into the Cove Sports Bar & Grill I'll try to bring along a CD player and a big fat set of headphones.

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