Celebrating six years of La Rumba

Over the weekend just gone, La Rumba celebrated six years of fusing Afro-Latin music with classic UK club culture with a special live show at Sidney & Matilda. 

Funded by using part of his student loan six years ago, Román Rocha, who grew up in South Yorkshire but was born in Venezuela, started La Rumba in the sweaty intimate confines of The Harley. From there, it snowballed to where he was selling out shows at the likes of The Foundry and Yellow Arch Studios. La Rumba now puts on shows all across Sheffield and Leeds, having for six years brought a new dimension to the clubbing scene, centred around world-orientated music.

An inspiration for Román to keep La Rumba going over the years has been watching people from underrepresented backgrounds come together to embrace this ‘non-conventional club music’. People sharing their previous negative experiences, who may ordinarily feel unsafe or out of place elsewhere in the city but find safety at La Rumba has been truly fulfilling, and Román made clear that they still have a lot more to give.

Nubiyan Twist performs at La Rumba

He said: “La Rumba has always been kind of this passion project or hobby. It definitely has become a bit of a part-time job, definitely more than a hobby, but I suppose we’re doing something right in that we’ve survived this long.

“When I started, I was surrounded by my friends and knew all these people from university nearby home etc, and over the six years a lot of our original community has left whereas they have now been replaced by the new crowd that comes in. Whether that’s people from university or people who have never gone to university or people from underrepresented communities. You know, they’ve come time and time again and to celebrate 6 years and to see some of these familiar faces turn up, that’s been incredible.

“Every now and then we’ll do an event that just kind of really really hits the spot. I’m really proud of what I’ve put together. It’s taken a while to fully believe that I’ve contributed something to Sheffield and Leeds. I think not many people are doing our sort of thing with this kind of music, the genres, the experience and particularly the artists.

“We’ve got to a point where people aren’t as fussed about the bookings anymore and people are really more keen on the La Rumba experience. I think that was always something I wanted to do because La Rumba, by definition in Latin America, is ‘the party’. In Venezuela and other Latin countries you would say ‘Donde esta La Rumba?’, which is ‘where is La Rumba?’;  it’s a slang term just to say, you know, where’s the party at tonight? It’s this mentality. People just know when they hear certain tracks or certain genres that, yeah, this is a La Rumba song or this is a La Rumba vibe and it’s just great.”

“I think not many people are doing our sort of thing with this kind of music, the genres, the experience and particularly the artists.”

For their big birthday celebration, La Rumba welcomed Afrobeat legend Dele Sosimi who has collaborated with multi-talented producer and DJ Medlar for what hopes to be a unique live music experience, combining two unassuming genres. The unlikely pair have collaborated both in and out of the studio, with the duo’s most recent EP ‘State of Play’ being released in July 2022. The balance of Afro and jazz with dance and house made a very special night of live music and a fitting homage to the much-loved event.

Ticketed separately, the second instalment in the evening saw sets from two staples in the UK scene, Luke Una and Horse Meat Disco’s Luke Howard, the latter of which prepared a one-off Brazilian set to celebrate true vibe of La Rumba. They were joined by many others, including some of the finest local musical talent, for a night celebrating both the legacy and future of La Rumba.

See what else they’ve got going on by following them on socials – @larumbamusic

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