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Gangs, jumpers and Northern Soul

gang jumpers and northern soul

A sense of belonging

In Dundee, there have always been different ways to belong, as this panel reveals. In the 1970s, belonging to a gang meant wearing brightly-coloured gang jumpers – like the designs shown here. Later, those gangs put aside their differences and came together through the transformative power of Northern Soul music – some popular records are named here. Today, ethnic communities provide a sense of belonging by bringing the spirit of their cultures to the city, while the Dundee’s LGBTQIA+ community is stronger than ever.

gang jumpers

1. Gang jumpers

In the 1970s, territory was everything and lads from different parts of Dundee – particularly its social housing estates – wore distinctive V-necked jerseys in specific ‘gang’ colours. Most of the jerseys were made at the Knitting & Sewing Centre in Victoria Road, but some were also knitted at home by willing mums and grannies. Customisation included sleeve pockets, cardigan versions, initials on the pockets, and ‘reverse’ colour combos – similar to a football team’s strips for ‘home’ and ‘away’.


2. Northern Soul

The song titles stitched on this panel were Northern Soul favourites in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As Dundee’s local gangs put aside their differences to come together on the dancefloor, popular Northern Soul venues included Marryat Hall, Angus Hotel, Queen’s Hotel, Jumpin’ Jacks at the Tay Centre, and St Salvador’s Church Hall. The city still has a lively Northern Soul scene.


3. Rainbow knitting

The first Dundee Pride event took place in 2018, and the city has an active and welcoming LGBTQIA+ community which celebrates gender diversity, and promotes equality, awareness and inclusion within Dundee and the surrounding area.


The following textile-themed motifs represent people from a variety of nations who have made Dundee their home:

4. Ukraine

This design is inspired by the embroidery on vintage ‘rushnyk’ cloths. These are traditionally used for ceremonial events in Ukraine.

5. Africa

This motif is influenced by Adinkra symbols, such as the ‘kokuromotie’ symbol which represents harmony, co-operation, and teamwork.


6. China

This design is based on the Lucky Clouds pattern which appeared on Beijing’s Olympic torch in 2008. It is stitched in red because that is a lucky colour in Chinese culture.


7. Poland

This floral motif is based on Polish paper cut designs, a traditional form of folk art called ‘wycinanki’.


8. Italy

This simple zig-zag design is inspired by ‘bargello’ – a type of needlepoint embroidery named after a palace in Florence. It is stitched in green – one of the colours on Italy’s national flag.


9. Other communities

Dundee has also welcomed people from other cultures and countries across the globe, including Latvia, Syria and the Jewish community.


10. India / Pakistan

Originating from Kashmir (now a disputed territory), the paisley motif traditionally featured on woven, and sometimes embroidered, shawls.


11. Ireland

This motif is based on the trinity knot, a Celtic symbol of love. It has been stitched in white to echo the traditional colour scheme of Ireland’s Mountmellick Embroidery. 

This panel was stitched by

Mairi Fraser

Sheila G Gorrie

Nicola Montague

Judith Robertson

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