This year, Ricardo Silva decided to celebrate his birthday in a school bus painted in the colors of the Colombian flag. Inside, Silva and 28 of his guests danced and celebrated inside the bus while it transported them to their final destination: Baru Urbano nightclub in Brickell.
“My friend recommended Rumba Chiva, and it was something I had never seen in Miami,” said Silva, 22. “I decided to celebrate my birthday with a Colombian style despite the fact that I am Venezuelan.”
Rumba Chiva is a party bus founded by Colombian Sebastian Ortega, 22, of Kendall, and his business partner and cousin, German Rosero, 30, who lives in Colombia. The bus, which began service on July 20, 2012, on Colombian Independence Day, offers two types of events: city tours and transportation to and from a nightclub. It usually runs from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Thursdays through Sundays.
Rumba Chiva departs from two different locations: Bayside Marketplace in downtown Miami and Los Verdes Restaurant in Kendall.
The service also offers the option of picking up a group of customers at one of their homes at no additional cost if they live in the South Beach, Brickell, Doral or Kendall areas.
“The idea came after a trip I made to Colombia, where I saw a ‘chiva rumbera’ in Bogota,” said Ortega, who wanted to implement a bus in Miami that would take people from place to place while they can party inside.
A ‘chiva’ was originally a bus that transported people from one town to another in Colombia and other Latin American countries. Later, the traditional ‘chiva’ turned into a party bus and got the name of ‘chiva rumbera.’
“I came up with the idea of doing the same thing here in Miami,” said Ortega. “There are many Colombians and Hispanics here, and I thought it would be a great idea.”
Rumba Chiva offers a city tour for two hours. Transportation to and from a nightclub lasts five hours, three of which the bus waits parked outside while the customers spend time at a club.
The party bus, which has tables with cup holders, Colombian décor and a pole at the entrance for dancing, also offers a complementary cooler with ice.
“We don’t have the permission to sell alcohol, but we can carry it like any other limousine,” said Ortega, who moved from Colombia seven years ago.
Customers are allowed to take their own beverages or food on the bus. Alcoholic drinks are permitted but cannot be in glass bottles.
Manuel Puig, a South Miami Heights resident, has always worked as a driver and js a former Rumba Chiva driver.
“It was the first time I drove with people standing and dancing in the back,” he said. “Sometimes I laughed at people’s occurrences.”
The 73-year-old, who worked with Rumba Chiva since its establishment, said driving the bus was more fun than any previous jobs he’s had in the past.
“I liked the variety of it because it was something new,” said Puig, who stopped driving Rumba Chiva because the late hour of operation was tiring for him.
Diana Barrios, a Kendall resident, was recently in the Rumba Chiva celebrating her 18th birthday, where she and 30 other guests danced to an iPod with a large playlist provided by the owner.
“The music was very good and my guests enjoyed it,” said Barrios, who is of Colombian decent. “I did the city tour, which reminded me a lot of the ‘chiva rumberas’ back home.”
A reservation is required one to two weeks in advance to get on the bus, which can hold up to 30 people. This includes a deposit of $100 to set aside the date of the event. The cost is $25 per person for the city tour and $30 per person for the nightclub tour.
A minimum of 15 people is needed to reserve the bus and only those included in the reservation can join the trip.
If a group has fewer than 15, it can reserve and ride the bus if it pays the same amount that would cost for 15 people.
“People have reacted very well to the idea of the bus,” said Ortega. “I haven’t had any complaints so far, thank God.”