The Rumba Cafe
This small venue on the border of campus and the old north district of Columbus has a look and feel that holds true to its name. At a glance from the street, The Rumba Cafe has the appearance of a cozy coffee shop but upon entering you'll quickly realize your urges to dance. With bulbs that seem to have come straight from Edison's basement, only a warm low-level buzz of yellow light hovers in the otherwise dark venue. The full-service bar spans the majority of the venues depth. A few small tables sit opposite the stage nestled in the back corner, and in between all of that, the dance floor. Pass through to the back and you'll find the restrooms just before the door leading out to the rather large patio area.
The Rumba Cafe is a somewhat low key spot who's not afraid to host a show on just about any night of the week. These shows span several genres but there is a noticeable lean towards rock-based genres. Specifically, they host quite a few Americana/Roots inspired rock artists that always catch my ear. The Rumba provides excellent opportunities to see both national and locals acts in a comfortable setting with great acoustics. Seriously, for a venue of its size, the sound is spectacular. Their sound engineer deserves a pat on the back.
If you're trying to catch an excellent show and drink specials worth dancing over, then their happy hour shows are the place to be. Starting at 6:30, they're the perfect opportunity to go let the wiggle out yet make it back to your sheets before your ever receding bedtime. Let's face it, most of us want to be in our Uber on the way home by the time we would have just been finishing up pregame in the college days. The Rumba realizes this, their solution, these happy hour shows. The popularity of the happy hour shows make them a prime slot for local acts to play for a sizable crowd. These shows fill a good portion of the 200 person capacity.
If I were to recommend one and only one musical experience which need be experienced in Columbus, I would tell you to get your ass to The Rumba on any given Sunday night at 10PM to see the spectacle that is The HooDoo Soul Band. Playing every Sunday night from 10PM - 2AM for the meager price of 7 bucks there is no excuse to let this performance go unseen. Taking songs you've all heard and turning them into funky, groovy, soulful sonic masterpieces, The HooDoo Soul Band will have you dancing for damn near the full four-hour set. If you don't find yourself moving to this performance, you may be a psychopath. The 10+ person band fills out the stage with guitars and other strings, various percussion, brass, woodwind, and a rotating crew of vocalists. I can write pages about this band, but it will never do them justice. The only way to understand and appreciate the pure genius of them is to go see it for yourself. Disregard your Sunday night bedtime and go, it'll be worth dragging ass at your Monday morning meeting.