Juju's Bar & Stage is a beautiful old cavernous warehouse space that has hosted everything from secret gigs and exhibitions to film shoots, immersive theatre productions, dance performances and, of course, some exceptionally riotous parties.
As the grey clouds begin to roll in and the summer sun begins to fade, it’s time to reflect on what has been an incredible summer at Juju’s. We have seen so many people pass through for cocktails on the Juju decking, and those who have visited on those sweltering Sunday evenings to wave goodbye to the weekend may have wandered inside to see a serious party taking place…
Juju’s opened its doors to host a summer season of Cuban madness. Sambroso Sambroso took Juju’s by storm with an 11-hour carnival party, and what a whirlwind of salsa, rum cocktails and a varied programme of the best live musicians playing traditional and modern cuban music it was! I sat down with Sambroso Sambroso’s legendary founder, Noda Sambroso, to find out a little more about this booty shaking event…
What is Sambroso Sambroso?
Many things so it’s hard to explain. Firstly, it’s a community for people who love to be together, dance to the music and make themselves part of the family. It’s a feeling I see in the room, felt between all the people when we make a party. It a natural thing that happens when people dance together. But these events are also called Sambroso because the musicians that play in this event follow that way of being, making music in relationship to the crowd, exchanging energy. The word comes from ‘sabroso’ in Spanish, which means tasty, but there is something different or special about ‘Sambroso’. The olders of my community in Cuba used it to greet each other – to say ‘How are you?’ ‘Sambroso!’ meaning ‘All good.’ I want to transmit the good feeling through music, through my events, and when I say ‘Sambroso’ to someone, I am bringing out that feeling to give to them.
When was Cuban Carnival first born?
3 years ago. We were invited to this amazing space. I remember the first time I saw it. My eyes lit up. I couldn’t believe it was there and I never saw it before. I took out my phone to make a video call to Javier la Rosa, the DJ. He said ‘Sambroso’ and that was that.
How was the night inspired by your own roots?
When people are learning how to dance with “Havana Londres” they’re learning about the culture, if you come to Cuba and learn, you realize there’s always a story behind any movement in the dance. Any move brings a memory, it’s all related to slavery. Slaves could only escape their work in the moments of dance when they could be themselves. All the dances are still alive today. When people dance today in the Afro-Cuban scene they’re expressing elements from those roots. It’s so strong that even though that history has been avoided for many years, it’s still alive, in Contra Danza, Danzon, cha cha cha, Mambo, Rumba & his three elements (Yanbu, Guaguanco & Columbia.) Son, timba, salsa, and they make the dance rich.
Have you hosted similar nights in London
Yes, The Cuban Jam, featuring live music, DJ’s… Havana Rumba, which is more about the roots, about rumba: afro-Cuban music. We work with a range of venues, The Forge, Hootananny, Roundhouse, Jazz Cafe, The Empire Bar, and more.
What makes this event so special?
People love Juju’s. It’s people who make the event so special, they show so much passion. There are lots of single parents who love Juju’s because they can come with their kids, not have to pay a nanny, and be with their family. This is something people, single parents need. They don’t have another option. If they have to pay a nanny they can’t go out. But here, every Sunday they can come with their kids. Trust me they are so grateful for that.
What has been your favorite moment of the summer season?
My favorite moment could be when my son was there, but that’s personal, it’s not about me. They were all amazing. It’s about people, how they enjoy, how they are grateful for the event. I say thanks to the management for giving us this opportunity to have such a venue in the center of London.
What inspires you to host these sorts of events?
People. I can’t be inspired if people aren’t there supporting, coming to the events. They are the mirror. The more they come the more I want to do things. There’s no better inspiration.
What’s in store for the future of Sambroso?
We have lots of love in store! Keep doing it with the same love we have had until now. Hopefully the crowd will keep supporting this event. As long as they’re there I will be doing my best with the best Cuban artists in town.
Why do you love Juju’s?
I love the dance floor, the decoration, the pictures on the wall. It makes me feel I’m in Latin America. It’s incredible to be in the center of London and feel I’m somewhere else. Sergio Falomir, whose artwork is
on the wall, is amazing. Alberto [bartender of 8 years] is always there smiling when you get in. These two guys are a kick. I remember Alberto the from the first day, he’s always smiling. I saw him in the streets once, he got off the bike to give me a hug. Some people are so real, for real, the team and Juju’s makes my job even more enjoyable.
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Noda’s passion is what drives the success of this event and what drives the Cuban community to Juju’s every Sunday for 11 hours of music and dancing all summer long. Noda is a Jujubabe who has no limits; an integral part of the tapestry who joined us at the very beginning of our journey here on Brick Lane. Ah, Noda… what can we say? SAMBROSO.
To learn more about Noda Sambroso checkout his bio here