Review: Acey-Deucey Club takes a deep dive into tiki bar culture after World War II
For at least another week, the marine submarine USS Clusterwink is in port in San Diego for public diving trips.
Never heard of the vintage vessel? That’s because it’s the creation of Fever, a national event producer, that launched this new immersive, pop-tiki-bar submarine experience last month in San Diego for a first shakedown cruise. After completing the race here, the Acey-Deucey Club is booked for Houston, Phoenix and San Francisco.
Designed by the immersive entertainment team at Cinereal Productions in Los Angeles, Clusterwink has been constructed inside a banquet room at the Horton Grand Hotel in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.
Although much more spacious than an actual submarine, Clusterwink has a narrow entrance corridor, a bunk room and a communications center, as well as a large “mess” hall where the show takes place. According to the Clusterwink crew, who are dressed in navy uniforms in the 1940s style and at all times stay in character, the audience joins the crew at a party to celebrate the vessel’s maiden voyage on August 29, 1949.
Video screens on the walls have animated films showing Clusterwink diving into the sea and passing sharks, fish and other marine life in the deep sea during the journey. The attention to thematic details in the room is impressive, from the overlying “pipes” to the berths, lanterns, shark decorations, deep sea lighting and festive submarine lashes.
The floor show includes ship captain Victoria “Vic” Gray who sings a set of 40s big band / jazz songs with a three-man band, while the salty skipper “Fin” Crawford works at the tables, meets guests and gives secret insight about vessels. The entertaining hour-long show comes with three tiki cocktails (or mocktails). Optional Polynesian-themed “rations” are also available for purchase from San Diego’s Behind the Scenes catering.
The festive atmosphere darkens comically when Capt. Vic beats down one too many Blue Hawaiians and accuses visitors of stealing her secret room. A few guests will be “questioned” in the communication room about the theft, and a few others will be invited to help Skipper Fin search the vessel’s cloakroom for the missing liquor.
During my journey, it became the very confident and overcrowded Capt. Vic amused by Taylor Henderson, a talented singer whose musicals included “Fascinating Rhythm”, “Everybody Loves My Baby”, “Ain’t We Got Fun” and and “Show Me the Way to Go Home”. And like the annoyed Skipper Fin, the cheeky Jessica J’aime improvised well with the guests who wanted to play on the theme. On that note, the public is encouraged to wear Hawaiian and navy outfits.
The hour-long program is fast, entertaining, fun and generous with the cocktails. Passengers get an inviting vodka-mule drink followed by a selection of two more room-based drinks served in festive tiki mugs. VIP ticket buyers ($ 20 extra) will receive a fourth cocktail and better seating.
There is a decent level of alcohol in the drinks, so four in an hour can be too much for guests planning to drive home. A menu of shared pieces is available for sale, including Kalua pork sliders, shrimp quiche, beef and pork buns, chips and pineapple salsa and a small dessert trio, all priced from $ 14 to $ 17 each. The ceviche and sliders were large portions, fresh and tasty.
Although it is advertised as a 90-minute show, it is more like 65 minutes, with time to subsequently arrive before Clusterwink “sinks” and approx. 20 minutes after the show for guests to complete their drinks and food and go ashore. For what you get, the Acey-Deucey Club is affordable compared to most local professional theater productions.
The Acey-Deucey Club
When: 18 and 20 Wednesdays and Thursdays. 18.00, 20.00 and 22.00 on Fridays. 14.00, 18.00, 20.00 on Saturdays and 14.00 and 18.00 on Sundays. Played through July 23rd
Where: Horton Grand Hotel, 311 Island Ave. (entrance off Third Avenue)
Tickets: $ 62 and up (only 21 years and up, with valid ID)