Zanzibar’s Afro Funké returns to Santa Monica

I spent most of my 20s at Downtown Santa Monica’s hottest spot for EDM, Hip-Hop and Reggae — Zanzibar.


My friends and I would walk there from our apartment in the Pico Neighborhood, order shots of Red Label and chase it with Jamaica’s signature brew, Red Stripe. We liked Zanzibar because they didn’t charge a cover before 10 p.m., they featured some of the best DJs spinning House, old-school rap and contemporary tracks, and there were plenty of comfy couches to lounge on following a frenzied two-step on the dance floor.


Years later (and I won’t say how many), Zanzibar is still on and poppin’, especially on Thursday nights. Yes, I said Thursdays. As I get older I find myself going out more on weeknights when there are fewer people, which means better service, shorter lines and fewer amateurs committing alcohol abuse.


But why Thursdays, you ask. It’s simple — Afro Funké.


A weekly club, Afro Funké was founded more than a decade ago by Afro-roots star Rocky Dawuni, who realized L.A. needed a night dedicated to African music, culture and art and its influence around the world. The native of Ghana teamed up with talent booker and photographer Cary Sullivan to create the club, which includes live music, art installations, cutting-edge films, dancers, fashion shows and crafts, in addition to DJs.

 All photos courtesy of Farah Sosa.

Dawuni best describes his vision when stating, “Afro Funke’ seeks to create a sonic pipeline that will connect funky Africa and the African Diaspora and at the same time, serve as a convergence point for progressive souls.”


DJ Jeremy Sole reiterates, “The intention of Afro Funke’ is to seamlessly blend the native rhythms of every culture into one groove, reinforcing the fact that we are part of a global family. I am honored that we can help our family members on the other side of the globe through the many fundraising events we do at the club!”


Some guest performers have included iconic R&B auteur Stevie Wonder, as well as pygmy vocal technicians Zap Mama and downbeat duo Boozoo Bajou.

Being a huge fan of Afro-beat and its infectious grooves, soaring saxophones and conscious lyrics, I naturally gravitated towards Afro Funké and you should too — if you’re into that sort of thing.


Check it out this Thursday night, April 16. You’ll need to shake off that IRS blues, right?


For a complete rundown of Zanzibar’s events, go here.


And just for fun, here’s the video for Rocky’s latest single, “African Thriller.”