Toucans Tiki Lounge: Before & After

When it first opened in the early 2000s, Toucans Tiki Lounge, a popular LGBTQ nightclub, was inspired by the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland. It was heavily "themed" with greenery hanging from the ceiling and working fountains.


The owner passed away about a decade after it opened and his sister (who was part of the business from the beginning) inherited the club. This is a very popular nightclub in Palm Springs, with a drag show on Sundays, and lots of dancing on the weekends.


After more than a decade, the club was overdue for an update. The fountains had long since been boarded up, the club had carpeting (yuck) and the faux greenery had collected years of dust.



 

When the manager called us, I jumped at the chance to renovate this iconic Palm Springs hotspot. David and I had visited Toucans on our first weekend holiday in Palm Springs, and remembered it fondly.


When we went to tour the project for the first time, I was a bit taken aback. Well, most bars or night clubs probably don't look great during the day, and with all the lights on, but Toucans was in true need of remodeling. I thought the carpet had a leopard print pattern, but the owner told me that actually it was dozens of pieces of chewing gum mashed into the carpet! Who chews gum in a bar? And who just drops it on the floor?

Obviously, the carpeting was one of the first things to go!

Our design approach approach: Honor the tiki roots of the club, but update it. I believe that themes are no longer in fashion. Just look at Vegas: All the new properties being built now are simply contemporary, they are not themed to Italy, the south of France, New York, etc. Our goal was to create a modern approach to a tiki lounge.

 

Before & After: The Stage

One of the most popular events at Toucans is the weekly drag revue, Palm Springs' longest running drag show, every Sunday night. The stage was squeezed into the corner, so we relocated it to the middle of the room. Most of the week, the stage can be used as a live DJ stand, VIP area, or special event space.


We replaced a faded mural with a focal wall composed of a combination of textural matting, smoky mirrors, greenery, and vintage lighting For inspiration, we studied nightclub design, including Studio 54. Mirrors are often part of the most iconic and successful club design.



Giant tiki totems preside over the stage.
We replaced the carpeting with a durable epoxy floor, much like you see in fancy garages, but in a dark green color -- with lots of glitter mixed in!

 

Before & After: Seating

The built-in banquette seating was all at standard 30" dining table height -- not ideal for a bar! It certainly wasn't optimal for viewing the drag show, as standing patrons blocked the view of those seated.


In a nightclub, isn't the point to see and be seen? We raised the seating up to bar height and scoured the internet for vintage light fixtures, which cast a flattering glow on the patrons below.

For a dramatic backdrop, we selected laser cut MDF screens in a palm leaf pattern onto which the club's lighting designers can project their magic.



I hope you enjoyed this tour!

Stay proud, my friends.

xo

CK

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