On a hot, sunny day in August, I had the privilege of marveling the explosive colourful festival full of heavy dub-step music, crashing drums, piercing whistles, enthusiastic calls from the food stalls, people in costumes revealing as much flesh that would make Pamela Anderson, of Baywatch fame, blush deeply.
This, my friends, is the Notting Hill Carnival.
Invading the district of Notting Hill in London every year on August Bank Holiday, the area is transformed into a true Caribbean party. Festivities for everyone, the weekend is separated into a child-friendly day full of naff competitions and into an adult-themed day when children may have discovered women and men are each different much earlier than their parents would have liked. Well, you can guess which one I went to… No, it wasn’t the child themed day! How dare you think that but I suppose I have an angelic and innocent face enough to make the Virgin Mary cry for me.
It’s recommended you turn up as early as you can from 9am like I did and watch the exciting preparations unfold into a happy parade that’ll get your hips moving like Elvis. Mingling through the feathered and costumed throng of performers, you cannot help being swept up into the feeling of joy and happiness of partying in style yet at the same time agree with the undertones that equality has come for the Caribbean people, who as part of the British Empire, came in the 1960s and 1970s in search of a better life. What started off as a protest whether peaceful or violent is now celebrated in exuberance. This day was for them. Glinting white teeth came out in smiles, graceful movements ruffled feathers on their costumes and multi colourful decorative beads adjourned their bodies. They were ready to get the party started.
However, in recent years, the Notting Hill Carnival has been smeared with the tar of crime. Pick picketers victimize the tourists, dangerous quiet streets play host to gangs and scuffles are common within the crowd. Particularly if you are blocking their view as I discovered my tall stature were doing just that.
But the Metropolitan Police, credited with their diligent patrolling and lining the parade route, has ensured safety is the number one concern for the masses. In fact, they recommend you leave Notting Hill before evening draws in.
My first experience of Notting Hill Carnival was not at all I expected. I left with a huge plastered smile on my face, my stomach full of Caribbean Jerk Chicken (and Caribbean Red Stripe beer) and a profound sense that Multiculturalism and Equality can truly work and go hand in hand with each other.
This is not a community divided, but united.
Watch my Rexyedventures Video of my experiences there.
If you would like to know more about the Notting Hill Carnival for 2014, check out their website here.