Rhumba Club

History of The Rhumba Club

How do you describe a truly unique club that has been around for nearly 30 years changing like a chameleon through the years as new and old enjoy the entertainment that is called The Rhumba Club. The unique blend of music through the years kept this clubs reputation as one of the best club nights in Scotland and at some points in it's life the best in the UK.

The start...

The Rhumba Club first appeared on the dance club scene on a Friday night in February 1991 at Roxannes nightclub in Perth Scotland. Wayne Dunbar and Zammo, under the banner of Floatation Perceptions, were the promoters and founders with Zammo taking up the part of resident DJ. At this moment in time Tayside had no real Club night where you could go and hear house music for an entire night, properly presented as a club night. Many things attracted house music lovers to the Rhumba for some it was the music, others the scene and others the ambience. One thing which shone from the start was how this was a distinctly different club night. Word spread fast and every night began to sell out.

Time for the DJs...

Around July 1991 for reasons unknown the club moved to Fat Sams in Dundee where it began to introduce the most up and coming DJs to the Rhumba faithful. Names to grace the club at this point were Justin Robertson, Andrew Weatherall, Paul Wain, Slam, Steve Bicknell, Nipper, Jacqui Morrison, Harri, Parks & Wilson, Jon Da Silva to name but a few. Zammo held residency pumping out the best in Balearic beats while the guests each week brought their house music blend to the club creating a truly Balearic club. The club also developed a huge loyal following who came for the music, vibe and to see a guy called Higgins who became a clubbing legend with his Rhumba antics. Incredibly within 3 short months DJMag had named the Rhumba Club No1 in the UK in it's monthly charts. MixMag would follow that up with awarding The Rhumba the title Best Balearic Club 1991. The last night played at Fat Sams in Dundee was the First Birthday party in February 1992.

Moving direction towards super club...

Again upheaval hit The Rhumba and it wasn't until April 1992 that a venue was secured for the future of the club. The move to the Citrus Club in Edinburgh raised a few eyebrows not least as the Rhumba fan base now had a 60 mile round trip to visit their club. Dance music was changing and the demand for quality clubs, music and a safe atmosphere was in demand. The Rhumba moved away from being a weekly promotion to a monthly promotion. The Rhumba began it's stint at The Citrus Club with the line up of Gaerth Somerville, Steve Bicknell, Zammo and Paul Wain on Friday 03/04/1992. With such a growing reputation the Rhumba was able to capture the cream of club DJs to its monthly nights. With the emergence of Cream, Ministry of Sound and Back to Basics down south the dance scene was reaching new heights. Most of the top club DJs of there time managed to squeeze an appearance in at the Rhumba from Alistair Cooke, Craig Walsh, Kelvin Andrews, Rad Rice, David Holmes to Dave Seaman and the guest DJs from the early days at Fat Sams flocked back as well. The Rhumba lasted for 3 years at the Citrus Club finishing in 1993 with the Christmas Festivity starring John Digweed, Rad Rice, Paul Wain, Zammo and Gareth Sommerville.

Super Club...

What started as a one off in 1993 with the Rhumbasaruas Rex began a 3 year stint at the Arbroath sea front Ballys nightclub which could hold 1000+. The Rhumba had now ascended to superclub status. It commanded the biggest crowd in Scotland and the biggest DJs made there way there every 2 or 3 months as the club night went from monthly to quarterly. DJs that came were the biggest in the business with Jeremy Healy coming at his Ibiza peak, the master himself Sasha with his Northern Exposure night and Paul Oakenfold just after his acclaimed Radio 1 Goa essential mix. Being a super club opened up avenues to attract the superstar DJs like Sasha, a DJ who was long overdue to play at the Club and really should have been there in the early days.  In 1994 after 4 years at the top the Grand Finale night was announced and Rhumbateers young and old descended on the Flicks nightclub in Brechin. It seemed like the end, and for some it was, for others it had been a long time ago and for others it was only beginning. It was announced as the end but just like a phoenix from the flames the club night moved back to where it all began. In 1995 the Rhumba used the state of the art Ice Factory nightclub in Perth to hold it's 4th Birthday party. In 1995 Club Metro would once again open it's doors to the Rhumba crew who would keep coming up until the start of 1996 where a change in direction would see it permanently move back to it's roots.

Back to its roots...

The Rhumba took no time at all in 1996 to be convinced that the brand new Ice Factory nightclub in Perth with it's state of the art design was the place where The Rhumba club could flourish again with new and old. It had already held a few club nights under The Rhumba banner but had always kept it's ties with The Metro. With around a capacity of nearly 1000 the club was reintroduced to the Perth landscape and the club night changed to add a host of DJs at each club night. The nights were fresher more artistic feel to them. The club had maybe lost it's cosy feeling of the Roxannes/Fat Sams era but it had grown into one of the strongest commercial nights out in Scotland. The Rhumba held many a club night throughout 1996 to 2009 until the Ice Factory shut it doors in 2009. This was unfortunate for The Rhumba as in 2008 and 2009 it began to move from "best of" nights with Zammo and Michael Kilkie to once again attract the top name DJs in the business like John Digweed, Dave Seaman and the likes. It may have been the end of the Rhumba at the Ice Factory but a familiar friend was waiting just round the corner to allow the club a new lease of light.

 Back to its roots part 2...

The Rhumba came full circle when  in October 2009 it returned to a very different Fat Sams in Dundee to take up a quarterly residency. It had been 16 years since The Rhumba had been on overnight success at the original Fat Sams and it picked up where it left off all those years ago with Orbital opening up to a rejuvenated nightclub which was now twice the size. With the always popular Christmas Festivity planned for the end of December another era beckons for rrrrRhumba. 

One More Tune..

 2012, and momentum had been building for months since 2011 to put on a spectacular show to pull down the curtain on this famous club. It had been tried several times before but you get the feeling this send-off was so good that maybe this was just the last tune. With so many things to consider from who would spin the discs to how you can structure a club for all those clubbers that have been through the many doors of The Rhumba over the last 21 years. First choice by Wayne and co was to get some of the biggest names that have graced the Rhumba over the years with Justin Robertson, Slam, Jon Pleased Wimmen, Kilkie, Zammo to name but a few. Next the venue and a reopened Ice Factory opened for one night only over 3 floors in April to give the Rhumba Club one fantastic send off. With Wayne, Keith and Zammo pulling out all the stops to bid farewell to all Rhumbateers that could get their hands on a golden ticket…

 …but alas those crafty Rhumba People just couldn’t let it go and within months the Rhumba was resurrected once again. Such was the success of “One More” night that pressure grew to have another but no the staff at Rhumba Towers didn’t just come back with a club night, oh no now the team were moving past Super Club and on to Festivals, yes Festival of House in 2013 was a great success using the new multi level club Fat Sams as a venue to stretch over 3 floors of House music with something to suit all tastes as Dundee rocked for the night.

Since then The Rhumba as hit more new heights. In 2014 and 2015 the club took part in the wonderful weekend of the Dundee Dance Festival, bringing the best new DJs to spin those digital wheels in the club. HMS Unicorn was once again graced with the Rhumba crew who had once danced the night away under the banner of Flotation Perceptions back 1991. The Festival of House was once again organised to great acclaim by the Rhumba crew. Spread over 3 days with old and new house music pioneers playing their tunes together from Tricky Disco to Marshall Jefferson it’s just doesn’t get any better than this.

 2016 saw another memorable Festival of House which brought in Hernan Cattaneo, Dave Seaman, Justin Robertson and James Bradley to rock the followers and then The Rhumba turned 25 returning to the Ice Factory to celebrate its half century with James Zabiela pulling out all the stops to make this a memorable night.

…but alas those crafty Rhumba People just couldn’t let it go and within months the Rhumba was resurrected once again. Such was the success of the “One More” night that pressure grew to have another but no the staff at Rhumba Towers didn’t just come back with a club night, oh no now the team were moving past Super Club and on to Festivals, yes Festival of House in 2013 was a great success using the new multi club Fat Sams as a venue to stretch over 3 floors of House music with something to suit all tastes as Dundee rocked for the night.
Since then The Rhumba as hit more new heights in 2014 and 2015 by taking part in the wonderful weekend of the Dundee Dance Festival bringing the best new DJs to spin those digital wheels in the club. The HMS Unicorn once again graced with the Rhumba crew who had once danced the night away under the banner of Flotation Perceptions back 1991. The Festival of House was once again organised to great acclaim by the Rhumba crew spread over 3 days with old and new house music pioneers playing there tunes together from Tricky Disco to Marshall Jefferson it’s just doesn’t get any better than this.
2016 saw another memorable Festival of House from which brought in Hernan Cattaneo, Dave Seaman, Justin Robertson and James Bradley to rock the followers and then The Rhumba turned 25 returning to the Ice Factory to celebrate its half century with James Zabiela pulling out all the stops to make this a memorable night. 
Things didn’t stop there, 2017 say a truly awesome partnership with Carnival who had set up a weekend Festival based in Camperdown Park with the Rhumba team pitching there Festival of House  tent with the likes of Basement Jaxx and Hot Chip taking over day one and Sasha taking over day two. You think back to 1991 when it was hard enough to put on a 3 hour club night and fill the venue and you’ve now got the Rhumba established as the go to club to put on a dance event with thousands not just buying tickets but thousands disappointed that they couldn’t get tickets for the event, truly amazing.
As the excitement of all these events of the last 5 years the club settled down into a once or twice yearly club returning to its roots of the Ice Factory in Perth. This bi annual affair allowed enough time to get the correct calibre of DJs in the door to please the crowd. Inbetween the Ice Factory events from 2017 and 2020 there have still been innovations by the Rhumba team. In August 2018 there was a “Secret Garden” event where you purchased your ticket but then venue was only announced on the day, we also had the full line up of girl only DJs and the club continues to support the Tayside music scene contributing to the club nights Wildlife, Groovement, DDE etc. One sad but special message has to go out to the late Andrew Weatherall who sadly passed away, he was a great supporter of the club and some might say the best ever DJ to play at the Rhumba, he certainly always rocked the house.



As the Rhumba steams ahead towards it’s 30th Birthday party we can see a massive night on the cards, who would have thought a young Acid House kid from Dundee who met up with a house DJ from Perth over 21 years ago would spawn a club that would bring together Dundee, Perth, Tayside and Scotland with House music that lit up clubbing for nearly 30 years, Rhumba Club take a bow, will the old lady take retirement, we doubt it and it would seem that 40 years could be on the cards. 
Things didn’t stop there, 2017 say a truly awesome partnership with Carnival who had set up a weekend Festival based in Camperdown Park, Dundee with the Rhumba team pitching there Festival of House  tent with the likes of Basement Jaxx and Hot Chip taking over day one and Sasha taking over day two. You think back to 1991 when it was hard enough to put on a three hour club night and fill the venue, fast forward to 2017 and you’ve got the Rhumba established as the go to club to put on a dance event with thousands, not just buying tickets, but thousands disappointed that they couldn’t get tickets for the event, truly amazing.

After the excitement of all these major events from the last 5 years the club began to settle down into a once or twice yearly club returning to its roots of the Ice Factory in Perth. This bi annual affair allowed enough time to get the correct calibre of DJs in the door to please the crowd. Inbetween the Ice Factory events from 2017 and 2020 there have still been innovations by the Rhumba team. In August 2018 there was a “Secret Garden” event where you purchased your ticket but then venue was only announced on the day, we also had a special night where an all girl DJ night rocked the the club. The Rhumba also continues to support the Tayside music scene contributing to the club nights Wildlife, Groovement, DDE etc. One sad but special message has to go out to the late Andrew Weatherall who sadly passed away, he was a great supporter of the club and some might say the best ever DJ to play at the Rhumba, he certainly always rocked the house and will be sadly missed by all the Rhumba family.

As the Rhumba steams ahead towards it’s 30th Birthday party we can see a massive night on the cards, Who would have thought a young Acid House kid from Dundee who met up with a house DJ from Perth over 21 years ago would spawn a club that would bring together Dundee, Perth, Tayside and Scotland with House music that lit up clubbing for nearly 30 years, Rhumba Club take a bow, will the old lady take retirement, we doubt it and it would seem that 40 years could be on the cards.

The Music...

 

One thing that has always been strong has been the music. Back in 1991 the only place you could here the tunes Zammo laid down was in his club. The guest DJs back then simply didn't come to Scotland very often and it was an honour for them to grace Perth and Dundee with their talent. Aberdeen had the Pelican club and Glasgow had the Tunnel or Slam nights but the Rhumba was different in that it didn't stick to a music code like the others mentioned. You could go to the Rhumba where one DJ would play American Garage and then the next hit you with Techno and then Zammo would hit you with what ever was in his William Lows plastic bag. Early days it really was a ground breaking club. It's move to Edinburgh seen it establish a more house music scene but it still was never afraid to ask the Techno master Steve Bicknell to do a turn. In Arbroath it tended to be a younger crowd who filled the place, or maybe it just seemed like that as there was double the amount of tickets available now to the club night. The music was probably at it's most consistent here with Sasha and Oakenfold laying down tunes. Some will say that the original cosy, "every knows your name" atmosphere had been lost by then and that it simply became just like every other club night but the crowds grew and kept coming back. When it reappeared in Perth it just hit the big time. The Ice Factory club was superb and the DJs booked to play really did make this night one that no clubber of any age could miss. The Rhumba found it's roots again and big things beckoned with massive DJs stopping off in Tayside and putting on some great nights. Rhumba returned to Fat Sams in 2009, a fitting return, attracting big name cutting edge DJs. It also continued to spin house tunes in it's birth place Perth, at it's longest running home The Ice Factory. Through out the last few years The Rhumba team have diversify into Festivals and weekend extravaganzas but The Rhumba hasn't forgot to pay homage to the classic club night as each year it puts on a couple of excellent nights at the Ice Factory.

This unique and enduring club which has had so many DJs come through the doors to play their blend of house music like Weatherall, Sasha, Oakenfold, Robertson, Slam, Kilkie and Zammo seems to get better with age. Of course we shouldn't forget the clubbers, the Rhumbateers, who just can't get enough of this establishment The RrrrrrrRhumba:)