Having never been to Carnival before, I didn’t really know what to expect. Having been, I now understand why it is such a popular, important and possibly the loudest event in London’s very busy calendar. Established in 1966 as a way to promote afro-caribbean culture, the festival took in 1 million visitors this year. With jerk chicken stalls aplenty, apparently no other beer but Red Stripe, and music ranging from steel drums, soca, and calypso, to the more modern flavours of dub, grime and house, this was clearly an event that hadn’t deviated too far from its tropical roots.
Sunday, family day, clearly meant family day. There were kids everywhere. On top of shoulders, strapped to mothers, and running around left right and centre, all clearly enjoying the chaos around them. A lot were either dancing, or blaring loudly on the various horns and whistles that no carribean festival would be complete without. But the key thing was that, despite the chaos, everyone was smiling. Except for the few who’d clearly had one too many and passed out on the not so comfortable looking pavement.
For me, Monday was no different, except that the younger horn and whistleblowers had been replaced by adult ones, with the general ebb of people carrying on. Rather than try and find a particular stage, I decided to just go with the flow and see where my feet took me. This led me past some great music, including some reggae being blared painfully loudly on some bad speakers, a bit of drum & bass round the corner, and somewhere hidden round the back, some old school house music.
However, it was by a stage based around the more latin music that my best story comes from. With my little posse of friends trying and failing miserably to look like they could salsa, a man from the group next to us (complete with gold teeth), came over and grabbed the female member from our group and gave her a quick 5 minute lesson in how to do it properly- hip thrusts and all. Leaving her a little breathless, he rejoined his mates whilst shouting out ‘soy de Cuba’- a nice reminder, that the Carribean, much like London, is a melting pot of different cultures, languages, and styles.
The internationally reknown Notting Hill Carnival is held on bank holiday weekend in August every year. Check out: http://www.thenottinghillcarnival.com/
And in case you hadn’t seen it, here are the world famous dancing bobbies (police officers for those from abroad): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-E_tikSXfc
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