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New exhibition celebrates London’s Black music history and spaces

Dance Can't Nice is running at London's Horniman Museum

A free exhibition exploring South London's Black music scene has opened at the Horniman Museum.

Curated by Adem Holness, 'Dance Can't Nice: Exploring London's Black Music Spaces' runs until 24th October, and celebrates figures from across grime, garage, bashment, jazz and other scenes, going back decades. The exhibition takes its name from a 1988 track by Frankie Paul and Sugar Minott.

One part of the exhibition focuses on Form 696, the licensing policy that was notoriously used to shut down events at which grime music would be played. In this section of the exhibition, artists Naeem Dxvis and SignKid explore how genres influenced by Form 696, which was founded in 2005 and dropped in 2017, spread in private spaces across South London.

"As the ownership of Black music venues fades and we emerge from the global pandemic, our community and its origins have never been more important," says Dxvis. "Our culture thrives in the underground. Our music is a blessing and privilege to those outside our community who have been granted access."

Speaking about the exhibition, Holness says: "I'm hoping it prompts conversation and discussion about where Black British music belongs in some ways it's about acknowledging the way in which Black music has been pushed out of public space, but it's also about honouring where it has managed to thrive. By working with Naeem to reimagine sacred Black music and cultural spaces, I want to pull back the curtain on music genres we all love."

If you plan on visiting the exhibition, booking is required, and can be done here.