Tiki in Dresden

When I heard about shooting my next German TV movie in Dresden, I was looking forward to getting to discover this famous location in the ex-GDR. I had emigrated to the US almost ten years before the wall came down and never had a chance to see much of East Germany.

I certainly did not expect to find any Tiki. Anybody who knows a little WWII history knows about the almost complete destruction of Dresden in last days of the war. It was the European version of Hiroshima, a conscious move by the Allies to break the last resistance of Germany:

Dresden After WWII Fire Storm

Dresden After WWII Fire Storm

Before this, Dresden had been the “Florence of the Elbe River”. I had been built up by kings and rulers in Baroque splendor. After the war, the GDR did not have the money to rebuild on a large scale, but since the reunification, the city fathers decided to bet on tourism and completely restored the historic center of town:

Dresden from the River Elbe

Dresden from the River Elbe

Now, having been born in Europe, I am unimpressed by such ornamental excess, much like Colin Farrell in “In Bruges”. I am a convinced 20th Century modernist and inhabitant of the New World. The fact that these buildings had been restored and were not fully original did not help much. To me, Dresden Central was a tourist Disneyland…

A Baroque Disneyland

A Baroque Disneyland for Tourists' Amusement

In that respect, the City reminded me of Paris. But then, other cities I had been to came to mind. Dresden’s twisted history has left its marks. My Hotel was in a sort of a “backstage” part to the pretty center, in dingy Friedrichstadt. Here, history had not been erased:

Dresden Wall Shrapnel

70-Year-Old Shadows on the Walls

And here I was reminded more of Havana, or even Detroit: Hollow eyed houses and abandoned buildings that had never been renovated…

Dresden Empty Building

Hollow Remnants of the Hallowed Communist State

Dresden Empty House

Nature Regains Lost Ground

…mixed with GDR Plattenbauten and remaining old apartment buildings:

Dresden Apartment Block

Communist Housing for the Workers

This, and many empty lots:

Dresden Empty Lot

Dresden Empty LotDresden Empty LotMore Post-Communist Emptiness

Dresden Empty Lot 2

More Post-Communist Emptiness

As a matter of fact, rubble rocks were on sale here, 1.- Euro a piece!:

Dresden Brick

Why am I telling you all this? To have you share my surprise when I discovered this:

A Tiki ice cream parlor!
The back opens to an area called the “Kunsthof” (art yard):

Tiki Ice Cream Kunsthof

Tiki Ice Cream Kunsthof

…and its building sports exotic animal sculpts and unique wicker balconies:

Dresden Tiki Ice Cream

Exotic Animals and Wicker Balconies

I immediately felt welcome :

Dresden Tiki Ice Cream Parlor

A Very Familiar-Looking Site!

The interior is lovingly constructed with any exotic materials available:

Dresden Tiki Ice Cream Interior 1

Dresden Tiki Ice Cream Interior 2

It displays two fine murals:

Dresden Tiki Ice Cream Mural 1

Dresden Tiki Ice Cream Mural 2

…and tables imprinted with logo Tikis:

Dresden Tiki Ice Cream Table

I’d never thought I would find a “Tiki Breakfast” on a menu:

Dresden Tiki Ice Cream Parlor

Tiki for Breakfast!

…which has a nice cover with art by Miles Thompson:

Dresden Tiki Ice Cream Parlor

Menu Artwork Courtesy of Miles Thompson

…and a brief, concise description of Tiki style on the inside:

Dresden Tiki Ice Cream Parlor Menu

Tiki 101 and More Miles Thompson

As I was sitting in the Tiki, listening to Martin Denny on an Internet radio station while rain was pouring down, the full effect of a tropical island in the urban jungle took place:

Dresden Tiki Ice Cream Parlor

Dampness and Denny in Dresden

I found the Tiki Cafe because we were shooting in a neighborhood across the river called the Neustadt…

Dresden Tiki

Neustadt Street Shot

Dresden Tiki Neustadt 2

Lovely Neustadt Balcony

A part of Dresden which has survived the war and communism and has been kept historically intact, and is now the cultural and subcultural heart of the city.

The Tiki was opened by two guys, both fans of American 50s culture. One is the descendant of the Neumann family, who has been supplying Dresdeners with ice cream for generations, and the other, Mirko Glaser, heads a Country/Rockabilly band called the “Lazy Boys”, which I had the pleasure of seeing live:

Tiki Dresden

Mirko Glaser of the Lazy Boys

They have toured the States, and been to California many times


The Tiki Cafe concept has proved so successful for them that they opened a SECOND Tiki in the Hecht quarter, just North of the Neustadt:

Tiki in Dresden

Neustadt Tiki Bar

Neustadt Tiki Bar 2

A True Tiki Bar. It Even Says So!Both Tikis serve alcoholic ice cream concoctions as well as cocktails:Ice Cream and Alcohol. Yum!

It was very gratifying to see Tiki places such as this, being so lovingly constructed and successfully adding to the cultural fabric of a city.

Coming up next: The Dresden Anthropology Museum, and the Kirchner Studio, birthplace of the “Bruecke” artists group.