If you’ve been in the borough of Hackney in the last couple of weeks, you would’ve seen “Land of Kings” posters shrewn across walls and cafe and shop windows. During Bank Holiday weekend, the multi-arts festival took place in 15 venues across Dalston with appearances and input from the likes of Red Bull Music Academy, Kwes, NTS, Speech Debelle, London Fields Radio and the W.I. group, the Dalston Darlings. Having been a Hackney resident over 30 years ago, my Mum expressed an interest in wanting to attend some of the daytime events so we headed to the BBQ at the Curve Garden, followed by the screening of the ‘Legacy in the Dust’ docufilm at Arcola. I was down for a good old MEATwagon burger, some decent reggae and a film screening, but never did I expect our visit to be so educational. Hit the jump for a brief insight into Hackney’s history and a trailer for the brilliant “Legacy in the Dust”.
The Legacy in the Dust docufilm centers on the Four Aces club, a live soul and reggae club in Dalston, opened in 1996 by Newton Dunbar. Home to live music and appearances from the likes of Desmond Decker, Jimmy Cliff, Ben E. King, The Clash, Bob Marley and The Sex Pistols, the club then went on to host many of the indoor acid house raves of the mid to late 80′s! With such a rich history and a great reputation amongst music lovers in London, the club grew in terms of success, however at every step Newton’s Four Aces club and its patrons were met with hostility, accusations and violence from the police – the media branded the club a “Yardie Drug Club”. But as you’ll see in the trailer, and from the names of some of their guests such as Desmond Decker and Bob Marley – the club really wasn’t deserving of such a bad name.
In the late 1960′s, Dalston wasn’t the bustling high street as we know it now – even my Mother has told me of it’s dark, empty streets with no signs of progression in sight. The documentary tells the story of how for Caribbean immigrants in the late 1960′s their main haven in a cold, harsh London were the nightclubs where they could dance and enjoy music with friends, such as The Four Aces. Much like today, people just wanted to get together and enjoy themselves til’ the early hours of the morning, and just like today partygoers were mistreated by police, bouncers, taxi drivers and police; clubs were getting raided and shut down all over London. The story of a young man, and his 3 friend’s love for music and soul culture in the 1960′s is set against the backdrop of a period of racism, violence, riots and severe segregation – which in itself is quite shocking. However, the part of the story which is the most shocking is that many of these things are still happening today – as one of the commentators to the documentary pointed out, now incidents are either brushed under the carpet, or they’ve just been side-swept into other communities. As scary and sad as this is, the story of a young group of friends and their entrepreneurism, passion and legacy sticks out which I found extremely inspiring. Any of my friends will tell you how much I love live music, night clubs and concerts and event planning is something I hope to delve into in the near future, and so to learn of a man that ran such an important, ground-breaking club over 40 years ago is really interesting to me – and I hope that the story of Newton Dunbar and The Four Aces is as interesting to you too!
You can find out more news, and details of screenings on the “Legacy in the Dust” website.
p.s. MEATwagon burgers a bit of a hype. Undercooked and kinda soggy in the middle, with more oil and greasyness than homemade sauce and tastiness. Disappointment :-(