Film about The Four Aces Club shows in Stoke Newington on Wednesday

PUBLISHED: 08:35 16 October 2010




Stamford Hill film maker shows documentary to help raise funds to release his film

Singer Ben. E King, second from right, at legendary Dalston club The Four Aces in 1969

Film maker Winstan Whittar talks to the Gazette about his documentary charting the rise and fall of a legendary Dalston club - which is showing in Stoke Newington next week.

Legacy in the Dust tells the story of The Four Aces - where Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Cliff once performed.

In the 1960s, reggae-inspired sound was sweeping the UK with its infectious dub-beats and rhythms, and Newton Dunbar grabbed the musical-movement and ran with it.

He opened The Four Aces in 1966 in the 19th century Victorian Dalston Theatre in Dalston Lane, and showcased top reggae and soul musicians, and sound systems such as Desmond Decker, Jimmy Cliff, Count Shelly, Ann Peebles, Percy Sledge, Ben E King and Billy Ocean.

Newton Dunbar meets Jimmy Cliff

Over its 33-year time span the club also pioneered the early indoor rave scene in the mid 80s - until Hackney Council made the decision to knock it down three years ago.

During its hey-day, the club became a must-see destination amongst world-famous music artists including Chrissie Hynde, Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, The Clash, Sex Pistols, and The Specials. Legend has it Bob Dylan visited the venue during his 1978 world tour.

Winstan Whitter’s connection to the club began in 1997 when his brother was working there and suggested he should film some of the nights for “memories’ sake.”

The 36-year old of Wilderton Road, Stamford Hill, had just bought his first video camera, a “Hi-8” and used the opportunity to train as a video cameraman.

The Aces Band

The following year he was told by owner Dunbar, that the club could close for good.

“I realised that it was really important to follow this through, by documenting every last minute of the venue’s last days - which continued long after the club closed in 1999,” said Winstan.

“When it got knocked down in 2007, then I knew I had a complete film,” he added.

“Lots of heritage is disappearing, the older generation are passing on along with their stories and histories, they need to be voiced because not many film makers are focusing on so-called fringe social groups,” he added.

Film maker Winstan Whittar outside The Four Aces Club

From the mid 70’s to the late 90’s the venue had come under fire from the police, who raided it regularly.

“The continuous police presence naturally bred tension within the regulars, the local artists, DJ’s and clubbers,” said Winstan.

“The magical cultural and music-scene explosion had been replaced by a suffocating law-encroaching shadow that stifled the community venue,” he added.

The film tells of Dunbar’s constant battle to keep the Four Aces open, fighting court battles, and how events brought the glorious reggae era to its knees - to be replaced by rave and acid house outfits.

The Four Aces Club

“There were lots of similarities between the reggae, soul and rave crowds for sure,” said Winstan.

“They were all so into the music and good vibes, knowledge, politics, love and fun.

“But they were all ostracised by the media and misrepresented by everyone.

“Sharing the same venue unifies them all together as people getting down and making something out of the struggles of life around them.”

In 2007 Hackney Council exercised the right to a compulsory re-possession of the premises.

It was demolished to make way for three residential tower blocks in the Dalston Square development - despite a campaign by community group OPEN Dalston.

A £5 donation is asked for next week’s fund raising screening, to help get the film released.

The film will be followed by a discussion with Winstan on Wednesday October 20 and Wednesday November 10, from 7pm to 11.30pm at Open The Gate, 33-35 Stoke Newington Road.

Email to secure your place.

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