Mod Palm Springs - Weekend in Review

From October 21-23, we attended our 4th Mod Palm Springs. We've gone every year since it was started by Rory Snyder (who also runs Tiki Caliente). Each year it's hosted by Shag (Josh Agle) and it's meant to celebrate modernism (while coinciding with Modernism Week's Fall Preview). So what exactly does the weekend entail? We're here to give you all the details!

For the first two years, Mod Palm Springs was held at the Curve Hotel. Now that it's being renovated under a different name, the event has relocated to the Caliente Tropics resort right next door. While the event does try to stay true to its Mod theme, it attracts a bunch of people from the tiki community who are either fans of Tiki Caliente or of all things mid-century modern (since they often go hand in hand). 

Over the course of the weekend, there are a lot of things to do on site: vendors are selling retro & tiki wares, bands are playing, the pool and its surrounding lounge chairs are in full use, there are symposiums, there are room parties, Shag has a meet-and-greet and he usually releases some event exclusive art...I think that's the bulk of it but I could be missing something. 

Our favorite parts of the weekend involve watching the bands that we know and love, attending the super creative room parties, getting exclusive event merchandise, meeting fellow mid-century modern & tiki fans, and adventuring around Palm Springs. 

We're going to give you a peek into our past weekend to show you all the details of Mod Palm Springs. We did spend a decent amount of time around town since we feel like we would be missing out if we didn't leave the hotel very much! Not everyone does it the same way. For example, some people spend more time checking out the bands or enjoying the pool. It's really up to personal preference. The flexibility of Mod Palm Springs weekend is what makes it so great!

In any case, here's a detailed rundown of how we spent our time! (Brace yourselves - we're about to cover a lot of ground.)


1 PM: Check-In 

Some people get into town on Thursday and some get in late Friday or even just stop by for Saturday only. We like to try to get as much out of Friday as possible so we aim to arrive around noon. This time around, when we checked into the Caliente Tropics, we realized that it's undergone some renovations since last year. It's always been awesomely tiki-themed but it's great to see that it's getting a well-needed retro face lift! 

Here's a look at our standard king room (in case anyone was curious): 

Tissue anyone? This thing cracks us up every time. On a separate note, guess what? Caliente Tropics is dog friendly! We love that we can bring Gatsby along for the weekend! 

2 PM: Some Exploring Around the Hotel

One of the cool things about any tiki/mod event we attend is that we usually get the opportunity to meet some of our Instagram friends & blog followers in person (finally)! Luckily for us, we ran into quite a few upon arrival and as we were walking around exploring the weekend setup. That was a fun start to the weekend!

We grabbed some drinks at the bar - one of which was curated by bartender, Jeff Cleveland, and weekend organizer, Rory Snyder. It was called the Elegant Bastard (a riff off the Suffering Bastard) to coincide with the mug of the same name designed by Shag (pictured below in white). We got a recipe card with our mug - we can't wait to make this drink at home! 

We then stopped by the California Lustre booth to finally meet Melaina and Tim who run the business. We've been big fans of all of the super creative & retro cool laser cut swizzle sticks, coasters, and custom designs they've been making. Back in April, Melaina helped me customize some swizzle stick packs for my tiki bachelorette weekend and they were super awesome (stay tuned for a post about that!). We got to see some of the new designs they've come up with and to learn a little bit about their process. Such a great small business run by great people! Be sure to check out their Etsy shop

Super awesome custom swizzle sticks. We might need to order some for our home bar soon...

Christmas ornaments! Those leaves would look perfect on our colorful, retro tree. 

3 PM: Some Time Out & About in Palm Springs

For most people, leaving the event late Friday afternoon to venture out into Palm Springs might not be ideal. You miss the opening event with Shag and you miss out on some of the bands and room parties. We knew we'd be busy most of Saturday because of the symposiums we were attending so we decided it was worth missing a few of the events on site to visit some of our favorite spots in town. 

We'll shamelessly admit that the Spa Resort Casino was one of these spots. They have single deck blackjack with a low limit so we can't resist. We gambled for a bit and left when the Tonga Hut was about to open (we were up a whopping $15 lol). 

Tiki time! 

We started off with the Tikitastic and the Shrub Old Fashioned (both mixed and served up by our friend, Jeff). For dinner we opted to split the Wedge Salad and the Pupu Platter. The Tonga Hut in Palm Springs is one of very few places to still serve a delicious pupu platter with a traditional flame in the center. We get it almost every time - it's just SO good. 

For our second drink, we split the Tonga Hut Treasure. We didn't want to have too many drinks since we knew there was still a lot in store for the evening ahead. 

While we were there, we took a peek back into the secret room. We need to come up with a reason to reserve this spot at some point! At the same time, we have a lot of fun hanging out with other guests & the Tonga Hut staff at the bar. 

7 PM: Back to Mod Palm Springs - Room Party Time! 

The evenings at Mod Palm Springs are fun because you get to hop from room to room at different parties that people throw. Each one has a signature cocktail (or two) and a theme. We love seeing what everyone comes up with and meeting new friends along the way! 

7-8 PM Room Party: Havana Good Time

9-11 PM Room Party: Valley of the Dolls featuring Tikitronic 

10-11:30 PM Room Party: Zen Tiki Lounge presents Marooned on Rumulus

After all of the room parties were over, it was time to head over to the hotel bar to watch the Martini Kings perform. We really love this group so we had a great time kicking back and listening to their music! 

At midnight, there was a New Year's celebration - ringing in 1961. That was a fun little time warp! 


9 AM: Breakfast at the Ace 

Saturday morning we got up bright and early to walk over to King's Highway at the Ace Hotel for breakfast. 

We have so much love for the Ace Hotel Palm Springs and can't get enough of its desert modern design. 

King's Highway has a great retro diner feel which is why we stop by just about every time we're in town. They also do pretty good twists on classic items and they have some really unique dishes on the menu. 

I got the toasted farro bowl (left) and Greg got the corn fritters (right). Both came with poached eggs (yum). 

10 AM: Back to the Caliente Tropics 

After breakfast, it was time to head back to the Caliente Tropics to check out what was happening on site. 

We did another round of the vending booths and discovered these super cool tiki torch mugs made by Go Tiki Ceramics. You can add a little 151 to the top to light them on fire! 

Then it was time for another room party: Bloody Brunch. We had some great Bloody Mary's there to start our day! Plus, we got to meet another one of our Instagram friends who was also the host - Elizabeth! 

2 PM: Symposium Time 

We signed up for both symposiums held on site this year. The first was a talk given by Josh Agle (Shag) about how mid-century modern architecture, design, advertising, and film have influenced a lot of his art. This symposium was super interesting to us since we're architectural designers who both love this era and Shag's pieces that feature retro buildings. He even gave a little background on one of the pieces we own, pictured below: Secret Fishing Spot. Which reminds me, does anyone have any good SoCal framing recommendations? This one is still rolled up in a tube! 

Shortly after the Shag Symposium was one hosted by Marie King of the Tonga Hut. She showed us all how to make five mid-century cocktails with each one related to a member of the Rat Pack. 

And we got to taste them all! Pictured below are a Punch (Peter Lawford), Rusty Nail (Joey Bishop), Sammy Sour - a riff on the New York Sour (Sammy Davis, Jr.), Martini (Dean Martin), and "Gasoline" aka Whiskey (Frank Sinatra). 

5 PM: Room Party: Tiki Strikes Back

Following the symposiums, we briefly stopped by a Star Wars themed room party which had some great snacks, drinks, decor, and cigars! 

6 PM: Another Trip Into Town

Then it was time to venture into to town to pay Bootlegger Tiki a visit. We were excited to see that the drink menu had expanded quite a bit. We've loved their classics (especially the Pod Thai) and we couldn't wait to try some new options. We ended up ordering the False Idol and the Oh My Gatos and both were excellent. We love how unique & well-balanced the drinks are at Bootlegger and highly recommend stopping by whenever you're in town. While we've only pictured the "rum" portion of the menu below, there are many more drinks available - something for everyone! 

After enjoying our tropical drinks, we walked down to the party happening at the Shag Store. While we typically use Mod Palm Springs weekend as an excuse to pick up some new Shag pieces, this year we were in post-wedding austerity mode and had to just window shop. It was still fun for us to check out the new items and pieces in the store. We also met some fellow Mod Palm Springs friends while attending the print launch! 

Since we hadn't eaten dinner yet, we decided to walk over to the Tonga Hut to grab a bite to eat and a Chai Tai (pictured below). Afterwards, it was time to return to the Caliente Tropics for the conclusion of the weekend festivities. 

10 PM: Final Room Party - Tonga Hut's "Duck and Cover" 

This year the Tonga Hut's room party had a nuclear fallout theme. We were all "scanned" for radiation before entering a room filled with glowing drinks and humorous educational videos and songs. This one was super fun and the drinks were delicious! 


9 AM: Breakfast Before Hitting the Road

Before leaving town, we grabbed breakfast at the new restaurant at the Caliente Tropics: The Congo Room. We were pleasantly surprised by the tacos we ordered in the lounge earlier in the weekend and likewise really enjoyed our breakfast. The restaurant is colorful and decked out in Shag's artwork. This is a great addition to the hotel! 

11 AM: Time to Head Back to LA

After a super fun, jam-packed weekend of activities and mingling with old & new friends, it was time to head back to LA. As always, we loved our time spent at Mod Palm Springs and can't wait to attend next year. We're even considering throwing a room party ourselves - stay tuned! 

Wow, that was a lot!

If you've made it this far, congrats! We had so much to share about the weekend that we couldn't resist making an epically long post. As you can see, there is so much to see & do both at Mod Palm Springs and in town! We definitely recommend checking out this event next fall or the more tiki-centric event, Tiki Caliente, in May. 

Side Note: GOSH GUYS

Sometimes blogging & running the social media accounts for Modern Tiki Lounge can be a bit isolating. We do it in a bit of a silo and hope that people will read and enjoy our content but we're never quite sure how we're doing. Mod Palm Springs weekend was super validating to meet many of our fans and people that follow what we do. It was so awesome to make new friends and to hear some positive feedback! To be quite honest, I've been having a longish spell of writer's block, and this might have broken it. We're excited to keep sharing and writing and hopefully inspiring others to get out there to have some fun! Thanks for the love, everyone. We really appreciate it and are so grateful to be part of such a warm, welcoming community! 

Kelsi & Greg