Reggae, roots, jute and a creative family affair at V&A Dundee

Jeffrey and Maureen Daley who set up in The Reggae Klub in Edinburgh in the late 1970s. PIC: Nicholas Daley.
Jeffrey and Maureen Daley who set up in The Reggae Klub in Edinburgh in the late 1970s. PIC: Nicholas Daley.
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It is a family story that weaves reggae, roots and Dundee jute with Scottish and Jamaican identity.

Now, fashion designer Nicholas Daley will takeover V&A Dundee for one night only and recreate Scotland’s first reggae club that was set up by his parents in the late 1970s.

Maureen and Jeffrey during the Reggae Klub's heyday. PIC: Nicholas Daley.

Maureen and Jeffrey during the Reggae Klub's heyday. PIC: Nicholas Daley.

Daley, who has built his own fashion brand and collaborated with Fred Perry and Adidas, is already exhibiting at the design museum with his show, Studio Nicholas Daley, highlighting his work with Scottish textile brands and the ongoing inspiration of his mixed Jamaican and Scottish heritage.

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His mother, Maureen, from Lochee in Dundee, met her future husband Jeffrey, from St Ann’s in Jamaica, at the Barracuda nightclub in the city.

She was home from Edinburgh University for the summer holidays at the time while Jeffrey was a Royal Marine posted to RM Condor at Arbroath.

The pair moved to Edinburgh where they set up The Reggae Klub at The Place in Victoria Street before moving to an old cinema off the Canongate. The night broke new ground in the Scottish music scene and became a meeting place for Scotland’s black community.

Fashion designer Nicholas Daley at his V&A Dundee exhibition with his parents. PIC: Nicholas Daley.

Fashion designer Nicholas Daley at his V&A Dundee exhibition with his parents. PIC: Nicholas Daley.

Nicholas said: “My parents started a reggae club because they felt at that time in Scotland there wasn’t a space for that type of music.

READ MORE: Club culture explored in new exhibition at Dundee V&A
“An ongoing source of inspiration for my work is music and family and I’m excited to be in Dundee to build on and recognise what they started 30 years ago.”

The fashion designer’s father, who also goes by the name I-man Slygo, will be at the heart of the soundsytem at the V&A Dundee club night and will play a collection of his old Reggae Klub classics.

Joining him will be British reggae veterans Dennis Bovell Aka Blackbeard and founding member of Aswad, Brinsley Forde MBE. Radio 1, Ninja Tune and NTS radio host Nabihah Iqbal and Edinburgh-based Messenger Sound System will complete the line-up.

Musical Youth play the Reggae Klub, with the club to be recreated at V&A Dundee for one night only next month. PIC: Nicholas Daley.

Musical Youth play the Reggae Klub, with the club to be recreated at V&A Dundee for one night only next month. PIC: Nicholas Daley.

Maureen Daley, who helps produce some of the fabric used in her son’s designs, will run a knitting workshop at V&A Dundee before the reggae party.

Textiles have a long tradition in the Daley family, with her aunts, great aunts and grandmother working in the city’s jute mills.

Nicholas has honoured the family history in his own work by using waxed cotton made in Dundee as well as yarn spun by small Fofar-based company Nutscene.

A picture of his great, great aunt May standing infront of the jute mill where she worked is included in his exhibition.

Maureen said: “It would be lovely I could get my grandmother and aunts together to see Nicholas’ exhibition and tell them ‘you were behind all this’.”

She said there was a real ‘mix of emotions’ surrounding her family’s story being told at the design museum.

“We are obviously so proud of Nicholas and the whole thing has brought back so many memories of our own young lives. We were just living our lives and we would never have thought that, 30 years on, this would happen.”

She recalled the early days of the Reggae Klub, when Jeffrey cooked up large pots of vegetable curry in the couple’s tiny kitchen to give to guests, with the Sunday night club only getting a licence if food was available.

Maureen worked the door as her husband was “too nice, and would just let everyone in” while her sister Doreen ran the cloakroom.

She added: “I also drove the van, a bright lime green Mini Clubman, and ferried round all the speaker boxes. “Later, we started doing nights in Glasgow and one night driving home the car aquaplaned. It has been raining really hard. But the car didn’t roll as the weight of the speakers in the back. I think those speakers saved our lives.”

Tay Late: Reggae Klub Revisited, is at V&A Dundee on Friday, November 15, at 7pm.