Rock's Backpages Library Rock's Backpages
Rock's Backpages

The Ultimate Top 10 Pirate Radio DJ guide to Underground Black Music clubs and Anthems

Paul Wellings, Vice, April 2021

1. The Four Aces, Dalston, London

I was never one to go to those mainly white clubs that the suburban househeads went to. I was partly raised in the East End and went to roughneck black clubs where I could learn about innovative street music from innovative street people. This was my first visit into club culture and what a baptism of fire. There were very few white people in the club in the early '80s when I went and you had to know a local black reggaehead to get in. I went in with a local face worryingly called Horace the Chiv as I was mates with his cousin. The club was in Dalston Lane and in the '60s was one of the first clubs to promote black music in the UK. It progressed over the years from ska, to rocksteady, to dub, to dancehall and then to Jungle. Its sound systems included Jah Shaka and Sir Coxsone. Musicians like Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Steve Wonder were visitors to the club. In the 90s I went off it as it turned into Club Labyrinth playing acid house and hardcore and all the suburban rebels came out and started their usual cultural appropriation. The club is sadly now a block of flats. This was the tune that carried the swing when I went there and was also one of the late great Radio One pioneer John Peel's favourite tunes.

Key track: Don Carlos' 'Nice Time'

Total word count of piece: 1319

Subscribe

Becoming a member is easy. Membership gives you access to all the thousands of articles in the library.

Click here to go to Subscribe page.

Click here for academic and other group subscriptions.