GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of the month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual social gathering of regional ghost hunters and those that just like ghost stories. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, and toast a ghost! Let's put the “Boo!” back into “booze.”
All those who attend will receive a free (square) GHOULA. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you, without asking the staff about our group. (i.e. LOOK FOR SOMEONE WITH A GHOULA BUTTON)
THE DATE: May 13th, 2018 (Sunday)
THE PLACE: The Tonga Hut
12808 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606 (Map)
THE TIME: 8:00pm to ? (4:00pm - 8:00pm is Happy Hour)
The Tonga Hut is considered the oldest "Tiki bar" in Los Angeles, opening in 1958. Much has been written about Tiki bars and their exotic rum-based fruity cocktails. There are many fans, books, and websites devoted to the artifacts and lifestyle associated with this post World War II era craze. So, the history and the facets of this topic can easily be found elsewhere. What is worth mentioning however is that some believe the resurgence of its popularity is because of this humble bar, which became a lightning rod for the preservation of this culture when fans discovered how far it had sunk in the 1980s with electronic dart boards and neon beer signs. Thankfully, as a result, The Tonga Hut has been restored and reimagined into this magical oasis in the desert of the San Fernando Valley.
This bar has also been on GHOULA's radar for more than a decade, so we are very glad we can finally visit it. A long time ago, when we started doing these meet-ups in haunted bars, we were given a tip that this North Hollywood gem may be haunted. So one night, two of us from GHOULA dropped in to do a little "research." After some time at the bar, we asked the bartender about ghosts. We were informed that "This bar is not haunted and there are no ghosts here." We pressed a little more, mentioning that most historic places have legends and rumors connected to them that add to their colorful history and so on. Again, we were told that "This bar is not haunted and there are no ghosts here."
We were about to drop the subject, when the patron sitting next to us (an elderly man) asked if we were looking for ghost stories. When we answered affirmatively, he told us that there was a long time regular of the bar that we should meet. With that, he called over an elderly woman with a drink in her hand. The man introduced us, and pleaded with her to tell us her ghost stories about the bar. As she was about to sit down and spill the beans, the bartender interrupted and said in a louder voice "This bar is not haunted and there are no ghosts here" and then added "and anyone who says otherwise... will be banned from the bar!" The older lady, scared from this threat, scurried away disappearing into the crowd. Our new friend turn his back on us and pretended we weren't there. The bartender then turned to us (GHOULA) and said these final words "I'm going to ask you to leave now." Not wanting trouble, we left without a ghost story.
Clearly we touched a nerve with this bartender, and clearly there was a ghost story. Henceforth, the Tonga Hut had always represented the one that got away. It was a great tavern that was apparently haunted, but we just couldn't get the story. We never did find out what those stories were, but thanks to the investigative work of James T. Bartlett, author of Gourmet Ghosts 2 (and friend of GHOULA), we finally have a ghost story to pin to this exotic landmark. As he published in his book, it seems that a long time regular of the establishment named Dottie passed away, and subsequently, after hours, a cleaner would have long conversations with Dottie's spirit while she did her nightly chores. Since the publication of that story, this tiki tavrrn has embraced their haunted side. Now, when someone asks about ghosts, they discuss their beloved resident spirit, Dottie. They even keep a seat reserved for "her" at the bar during their "Happy Hour."
One can not help but wonder if that patron we talked to so many years ago was this Dottie. Did the woman who was going to tell us a ghost story end up becoming the story herself? If so, sadly we may never find out the details of that original ghost story. So, whoever else might be haunting the Tonga Hut will have to remain a mystery. In the meantime, let's celebrate the ghost we do have, and have a drink at one of the most unique watering holes in LA.
So come out, join us, share ghost stories, and toast this ghost... If you dare!
(to read about the last haunted location... )
(to see a map of previous SPIRITS with SPIRITS locations... )