Welcome to the Four Aces – Celebrating Britain’s black music venues

Employee at Four Aces night club, London. Date Unknown. Copyright: Newton Dunbar
Employee at Four Aces night club, London. Date Unknown. Copyright: Newton Dunbar

The PHOP team visited Newton Dunbar, former owner of Four Aces, London to discuss how he came about opening Hackney’s first nightclub in 1967.

“There were hardly any nightclubs. The few clubs that were in existence were structured clubs, that more or less did ballroom type dances. We used to go to basement parties in Brixton and Ladbroke Grove. They were basic places where they would sell a few beers and ask for a small admission fee.

There was a space we started going into a basement in Highbury Grove. My friends and I started going two or three times a week and after a few months the owner asked us if we wanted to run it. We decided to call it the Four Aces. In Jamaica there was a brand of cigarette that was popular called Four Aces and there was four of us so it seemed appropriate.

After a while the the others moved on and I continued to run the club but it got to the stage where the Highbury venue became too small. We started to get around 60-70 people and that’s when I started looking for a bigger premises.” Newton Dunbar

Dunbar secured the lease on a larger venue in Dalston, London with a stage which enable him to booked bands to perform including soon to be chart topping rude boy..

 

“We had booked Demond Dekker to perform at the club and during the waiting period he went to No.1 in the U.K charts with ‘Israelites’. The night came and we had a phenomenal turnout. The queue went right up to the junction and he performed magnificently. The crowd that turned up were not just West Indians, there was a mixture of people. It was that night that was really instrumental in putting us on the map.” Newton Dunbar

 

Club Four Aces Membership Card.  From the Newton Dunbar Archive. (CC-BY-SA)
Club Four Aces Membership Card. From the Newton Dunbar Archive. (CC-BY-SA)

We want to hear about your favourite music venues from across the U.K. Share your story at PHOP.CO.UK 

Missing the Sex Pistols for disco

The Sex Pistols gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976 was legendary, with the likes of a young Morrissey and members of what would become Joy Division in the audience. A lot of people have claimed to have been there, but we were pleasantly surprised this week to have a PHOP contributor resolutely admitting to not being there. Instead, user terri.web was at the Pips disco club, where he was a member, celebrating his birthday in the Bowie/Roxy music room. Here’s his tale:

“I joined in February 1976. Pips was a disco Club with three separate parts playing different music in each. Clothing was very specific. I generally went into the Bowie/Roxy Music part, hence the suit and narrow tie etc. I was at Pips the night The Sex Pistols played The Free Trade Hall. Very annoying in retrospect. It was my Birthday. Well that is my excuse!!”