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La Rumba: Global party people celebrate third birthday

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La Rumba resident Roman Rocha.

Combining global rhythms and worldwide sounds with the more open-minded strains of house and techno, La Rumba has stood out in the city's party scene for the last three years. We asked resident DJ and founder Román Rocha to tell us about their big birthday bash at Yellow Arch.

Tell us about La Rumba's third birthday party.

On Friday 6 March we'll be celebrating three years of La Rumba at Yellow Arch with three artists and three local guests we really admire that cover a wide and diverse range of genres, cultures and styles - an attitude we take to organising all our shows. To top it off, we'll be starting celebrations early with Big Miz at Wire in Leeds two days before that.

First up in the venue we've got SNO from Banana Hill on for 3 hours, whose electric personality shines just as much on the dancefloor as it does behind the decks. She's a mega cool DJ from Manchester via South Africa that we've seen a few times, and she plays a mixture of Afrocentric genres from classic Nigerian afrobeat to Highlife, modern afro-house, and bubblegum.

Headlining the venue is label head and DJ Awesome Tapes From Africa - a really unique artist in his own right, bringing a bag full of retro cassette tapes, vinyl and digital records from his travels around Africa to share with us. ATFA was started simply to share these unknown gems and he's always been intriguing to hear about, so we're pretty hyped to have him join us for this one.

Last but not least we've got Mr. Scruff headlining in the warehouse with at least five hours to play with however he sees fit. With a collection of over 20,000 records and a serious talent for selection, we're really excited to see what he pulls out and we're expecting the unexpected from him. Mixing all sorts from Latin, afro, hip-hop to harder D&B, electro and techno, reeling us back in with soul, funk and disco, he's a proper DJ's DJ.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing on the night?

It really is a tough one, I'm just overly excited to see the whole thing come together really. It's been three years of mostly ups and some downs, as with any night, and to pull this one off for the birthday really does feel special. The line-up as a whole at a place like Yellow Arch (with a tasty addition still to be announced for the courtyard) is going to be class but yeah, Mr. Scruff for five plus hours on a Funktion One rig is going to be the one for me.

There are obviously hundreds of dance music promoters in Sheffield - what makes La Rumba different?

Another tough one. I think La Rumba differentiates itself from other promoters mostly because of the diverse artists we put on. The name suggests strictly Latin, rhumba, samba or soca, but anything goes really. We describe our nights as 'globally inspired' which, as naff as it sounds, is pretty accurate. The term global or 'world' music shouldn't pigeonhole Afrocentric, Latin, Eastern or any unconventional non-Western genre and should include all sorts from NYC, Chicago and Detroit, house, techno, UK garage, drum'n'bass and dubstep to European electronic and disco, all of which we've had at La Rumba in some shape or form.

We also put a lot of effort into maintaining a warm, welcoming atmosphere that's inclusive for all, not just by music taste but by environment, age group, gender, orientation etc. Having a room full of 90% young males filled with testosterone nodding their heads to a beat can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable and troublesome.

That's not at all to say there aren't other promoters doing some amazing stuff around Sheffield. The crowd at Apricot Ballroom are quality and they pull in a loyal tight-knit community of dancers every time. Dub Shack and Control stick to their guns every night with bookings, venues and production, not straying from their brands' ethos.

Tell us about some of your favourite parties in the last three years.

Optimo, Dele Sosimi, Romare and Auntie Flo for La Rumba reminded us why we do it. Donna Leake at Apricot Ballroom recently was really special. Other than that, the production level at Pretty Pretty Good, who made some mental bookings accessible to people in rainy Sheffield, really set the bar high. The old Harley made any night fun and was important for accessing new music, and Yellow Arch and Hope Works have hosted some amazing stuff generally.

Sam Gregory

La Rumba celebrate their third birthday at Yellow Arch on 6 March. Tickets are available from Resident Advisor. Read Now Then's interview with SNO.

by Sam Gregory (he/him)

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