Kreepy Tiki Starts Swing Saturdays
Owner Jackson Valiente and partner Ron Royce expand their retro tiki bar with more bands, dancing, and live entertainment.
The recently renovated tiki bar, owned by tattoo artist Jackson Valiente, started showcasing rockabilly bands two weeks ago for its Saturday swing, rockabilly and rhythm and blues nights. Not only will there be live music, but also free swing dance lessons, classic cars showcased out front and pinup models.
Valiente started the custom tattoo shop on Federal Highway over six years ago when he wanted to get away from the mainstream environment in Miami. But tattoo artistry actually is not his first love—it is music. A huge Sinatra fan, Valiente spends most of his time listening to jazz, blues, rockabilly, and Hawaiian music from the 1940s.
“As much as I’m into art and tattoos, I’m even more into music,” Valiente says. “I seek out bands and performers no one knows about. They are great and unique, and they deserve to get paid for what they do. Sometimes it’s like taking a shot in the dark because no one knows who they are. But that’s what I’m all about—bringing in talent to Ft. Lauderdale that other clubs don’t even know about.”
Valiente’s first tattoo was inspired by his favorite rockabilly band, The Flat Cats. His attraction to the music and the tattoos is really about his penchant to rebel against society norms. He says the first people to do tattoos were degenerates, sailors, and outlaws. The kids who played rockabilly in the 1950s and early 1960s were breaking the mold by dancing to rock ‘n’ roll and breaking down racial and cultural barriers.
“Rockabilly is the most rebellious form of music that has ever existed,” he affirms. “These people were doing something that was crazy. I don’t care what anybody says. It’s the purest, most rebellious form of music.”
Valiente initially had a difficult time finding a partner to successfully manage the bar. However, in July, DJ Ron Royce joined him to help keep the Kreepy Tiki going without blurring its vision. He recently moved down from New Jersey where he had been working at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and playing music at high-profile events, like Donald Trump’s 50th birthday party. It helps that Royce is just as passionate about rockabilly music as his friend, Valiente.
“I was DJing down here in South Florida, starting in 1978,” he says. “People wanted to hear the golden oldies, but that wasn’t what I was into. I was into rockabilly. It was my favorite music, and I had all these records that I collected and no place to play them. So I played rockabilly and people started liking it. They didn’t recognize the songs, but it’s the kind of music that is kind of a common denominator—rock ‘n’ roll. Even if you don’t recognize the song, you’ll like it. It doesn’t offend you. It’s easy to dance to. And you can tap your feet to it.”
Though there is not a huge following of people in South Florida who love rockabilly, Valiente and Royce are unwavering in their mission to show these kinds of bands to the public. Royce’s plans are to expand their customer base by catering to tourists and businessmen in the area who want to get a bite to eat, have a few drinks, and see some quality entertainment. Next month he plans to start showing Polynesian burlesque dancers Monday through Thursday in the afternoons and early evenings.
“I’m looking forward to building this place,” Royce says. “We are going to add another bar and then outdoor bars as well. I’m going to bring in bands from out of state eventually; they will be headliners. They are more nationally known and are icons of the rockabilly industry. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but there are going to be some big names that people will know and come down to see.”
Royce kicked off the fall season on September 14 with local rockabilly band, Slip and the Spinouts, who have been rocking out all over South Florida since 1998. This weekend he is bringing down Beau and the Burners from Jacksonville.
But even if you’ve never heard of rockabilly-style music, Royce and Valiente are encouraging people that the Kreepy Tiki is for everyone.
“If you are looking for something different, this is the place to come to,” says Royce. “If you are not familiar with the music, you are going to like it. If you want to learn how to dance, this is where you are going to learn.
“When you come in, you can take a walk back in time. It’s like escaping the reality of today’s culture. There is nothing out there like us right now.”
Where: Kreepy Tiki Lounge, 2606 S Federal Highway, Ft. Lauderdale
Cost: $5 cover, dance lessons are free
Contact: (305) 803-9014