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Dub London: Bassline of a City opening 2 October at the Museum of London

2 October 2020

Dub London: Bassline of a City
Museum of London
2 October 2020 – 31 January 2021
FREE, with timed entry ticket to the museum

The Museum of London is pleased to announce that its display Dub London: Bassline of a City, delayed due to COVID-19, is opening 2 October 2020. The exclusive free display will celebrate dub reggae music and culture in the capital, from its roots in Jamaican reggae to how it has shaped communities and culture over the last 50 years.

Dub, a way of creating music by using the recording studio itself as an instrument, has had a far-reaching impact across the music industry and the history of the capital. It has influenced multiple genres intrinsically linked to London like punk, post-punk, drum and bass, garage, dub-step and grime and even extends into many areas of mainstream pop.

London has been a hub for artists and production since the mid-1970s, with recording studios, record labels, record shops, radio stations and clubs peppered across the city. The display, Dub London: Bassline of a City, will not only explore the music’s influence but its wider cultural and social impact including the origins of the record shop as a community space, the continuing role of sound systems at events like Notting Hill Carnival both historically and up to present day and the religious, political and spiritual themes that form the pulse of dub culture and music.

Key objects and aspects of the display will include:

    • The iconic speaker stack belonging to Channel One Sound System that has appeared every year at Notting Hill Carnival since 1983
    • A bespoke record shop created in collaboration with Papa Face of Dub Vendor Reggae Specialist with a selection of 150 vinyl records available to listen to* chosen by fifteen London based independent record shops
    • Collaborations with notable names and organisations including Mad Professor, Rastafari Movement UK, Sisters in Sound, Channel One Sound System and representatives of various independent record shops across London
    • Historic and contemporary photography, including 21 newly acquired photographs by Dennis Morris, Charlie Phillips, Eddie Otchere, Adrian Boot, Jean Bernard Sohiez and Richard Saunders as part of Curating London’s contemporary collecting
    • Oral histories and/or text from Nzinga Soundz, Gaz Mayall, Dennis Bovell and more
Through collecting objects, memories and personal stories from some of dub’s most influential people and places from across the capital, Dub London: Bassline of a City will plunge visitors into the heart of dub reggae and invite them to discover its rich and varied history.

Theresa Dhaliwal Davies, Museum of London’s Dub London: Bassline of a City Curator, said: “London has always been a cultural melting pot – a place where you can call yourself a Londoner and bring your own cultural heritage to the mix. The Windrush generation faced racism, a lack of accommodation and no access to meaningful work. The importance of community meant retaining a feeling of ‘home’ through Caribbean music and culture. This led to introducing reggae and dub to London as sound systems which were set up at blues parties or ‘shabeens’ held in people’s homes in dense working-class areas of London, creating a protected space for people to express themselves. These parties paved the way for bigger sound systems, spilling into community centres, churches and outdoor spaces. All of this contributed to how dub reggae music and culture would influence London and we’re really excited to share these stories, many for the first time on such a scale, with Museum of London visitors.”

Papa Face of Dub Vendor Reggae Specialist and collaborator on Dub London: Bassline of a City said: “Reggae record shops are very significant because when people came to London through Windrush, the primary way of finding out what was happening back home was through music. The only other real option was a long-distance phone call, which cost a lot of money, so instead people relied on these records that were coming out to find out what was happening. They were a meeting point, a place for social gatherings and a main part of the community back then. I think the Museum of London doing this project is hugely important as its archiving memories and objects which might otherwise have been thrown away. It’s important for the next generation to have this archive and realise how important they were.”

Sister Stella of Rastafari Movement UK and collaborator on Dub London: Bassline of a City said: “Dub for me, highlights and defines key moments of my youthful self during a complex era of changing “socio-political” times in the 1980s. Racism was literally in your face and at the time it was intense … the A-side of a record would awaken me to social commentary which spoke of politics, race, class, humanity, justice and injustice, of love and of sorrow! But it was the B-side of Dub that gave me a profoundly deeper inner, almost electric surge of strength. It the bassline you know, as it hits you, it pushes out all negativity… and allows space for magnificent ideas, of hope for my people.”

Dub London: Bassline of a City is part of Curating London, a four-year contemporary collecting programme with funding from Arts Council England, and will be free to visit from Friday 2 October – 31 January 2021.

Find out more about Dub London: Bassline of a City and book your free tickets here.

*There will be an opportunity in the display to listen to records from the selection. If visitors would like to listen to one of the records, they will need to bring their own wired headphones/earphones with you (with standard 3.5mm or 6.35mm jacks). Bluetooth headphones will not work in the space. We are currently unable to provide headphones/earphones owing to our COVID-19 measures, which are in place to ensure all visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience.


Notes for editors
For more press information please contact Emily Brazee at the Museum of London on 077 1356 5805 or [email protected].

About the Museum of London
The Museum of London tells the ever-changing story of this great world city and its people, from 450,000 BC to the present day. Our galleries, exhibitions, displays and activities seek to inspire a passion for London and provide a sense of the vibrancy that makes the city such a unique place.
The museum is open Monday – Friday 11.30am - 3.30pm and Saturday & Sunday 10am - 6pm and is FREE to all. Please book a free general admission ticket in advance of visiting the museum. You can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added.

About Curating London
Curating London is a four-year contemporary collecting programme, curating the city today with funding from Arts Council England. It aims to change how the museum collects 21st century London. It also seeks to recruit staff from a broader range of backgrounds and professional experience and puts Londoners at the heart of our collecting practice by working in partnership with local communities. From physical objects to interviewing Londoners about their own histories and memories, Curating London will capture, collect and record contemporary London. The project started in April 2018 and runs until March 2022. Each year the museum will begin four projects: three area studies of particular areas and one themed study that spans the whole of London.