Filmmaker puzzled by council’s memories of famous Bob Marley club

Hackney Council are paying tribute to a famous Dalston reggae club in a new exhibition, despite allowing it to be demolished

A Hackney filmmaker has questioned how the council can pay tribute to a legendary music club, where Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Cliff once performed, after they allowed it to be demolished.

The Reggae Rebels exhibition, which was launched at Hackney Museum on Thursday as part of Black History Month, celebrates The Four Aces Club, a reggae and later dance club in Dalston Lane which was knocked down in 2007 to make way for three residential tower blocks as part of the council-backed Dalston Square development.

Winstan Whitter, 36, of Wilderton Road in Stamford Hill, who has made a documentary about the club called Legacy In The Dust, has contributed photos to the exhibition, which is open until January, but remains angry that the council knocked down the club in the first place.

Winstan campaigned along with the group OPEN Dalston to save the club.

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“It’s ironic that they can only show what was,” he said.

“It looks like they are trying to pay homage but it’s a shame they couldn’t have just spoken to us.”

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The Four Aces opened in 1966 in the entrance halls of the 1886 Dalston Theatre.

Having helped out at the club as a teenager, Winstan became friends with its manager Newton Dunbar and through him came into possession of photos of the club’s heyday, including Stand By Me singer Ben E. King performing there in 1969.

The club was later named Labrinyth and was one of the first legal acid-house clubs in London.

“It pioneered acts like The Prodigy. They started out there and made their name there,” said Winstan.

“We put a proposal to the council to try and save it. You could have had a development there with shops and also a music venue.”

The exhibition also features the work of photographer Dennis Morris, who grew up in Dalston and who was an official photographer for Bob Marley and The Wailers in the 1970s and dance band Tropical Isle entertained visitors at the exhibition’s launch.

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