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Afro Funke Celebrates 5 Years

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Right: The Afro Funke crowd at the Zanzibar in Santa Monica. Left: DJ Jeremy Sole | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist

Sitting aside DJ Jeremy Sole spin records at last Thursday's weekly Afro Funke at Zanzibar in Santa Monica, I asked how he chooses what he plays next or if he has a set playlist. "Nah, it's all about reading the people dancing -- their body movements. See, I'm going to put this salsa on next and I bet the people hanging at the bar will all come out and dance. What I'm playing now is just the kindling. The salsa will be the fire." He did just that and the bartender slaving away had a break to catch her breath.

Afro Funke celebrates its fifth anniversary this Thursday night with a large line up of DJ and live musical acts. It started in 2003 as a monthly event, but soon caught on to being Zanzibar's weekly Thursday night fete due to its exteme popularity as a Westside venue for music and dancing. "I came to Los Angeles from Ghana and wanted there to be an oasis for African music and culture," explained co-founder Rocky Dawuni, who founded the club night with his wife Cary Sullivan along with Sole, who is also KCRW's late-night Wednesday DJ.

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A night a Afro Funke can go from Afro-Pop to Brazilian, then on to Cumbia and Salsa music followed by James Brown. By 11:00 p.m., the dance floor is packed with people from all walks of life. You can't say the crowd is hipster heavy or full of any "scene" for that matter -- it's just people having a good time.

"What I love about afro funke is that everyone is there for the music. It is a very pure dance environment, especially for women," said one self-described Afro Funke devotee on the dance floor. "You don't have to worry about getting hit on Hollywood-style. The people who come here are special and come for the right reasons."

Afro Funke's fifth anniversary is Thursday and begins at 9:00 p.m. and costs $10 at the door