Notting Hill Carnival sound systems

How to do The Notting Hill Carnival // without the carnage

How to do The Notting Hill Carnival. By someone what knows (too much, probably)…

Notting Hill Carnival, sound stage

Start early

Many a year I have made the mistake of waiting in different places, pre gaming in houses, pubs and generally spending too much time gluing sequins to my face. Due to this we often get there just in time for the police to stop letting people into Sound Systems.

The floats and bands begin parading at around 9am and this year will finish early evening this year (stoopid rioters). Sunday is traditionally kid’s day so is ever so slightly tamer. If you really can’t do crowds then this probably isn’t your bag. You might see some Italian tourists rocking in the foetal position because they just wanted to peruse the antiques on Portobello Road with the ‘Portobello Road’ song from Bed knobs and Broomsticks in their heads but have failed to note that it is Carnival weekend.

If you are in a group take everyone’s numbers, plan meeting points, take it slow and go with the flow. One year my sister was on crutches, that was fun. We held hands and formed a ‘circle of love’ around her. It worked so well I’m contemplating breaking her leg this year. We carnival blinged those crutches up with glitter, gems and sequins so if anyone ever needs them give me a shout.

Look at it like a festival

There are portaloos dotted around, and some Carnival friendly residents rent out their bathrooms for a fee. One year someone tried to charge me £5. Five pounds! I would have taken a bath, used their best towels and taken a disco nap in their spare room for that.

Bring toilet paper, OCD hand wash and a British queuing mentality. Be nice and let the dancers, musicians and anyone working on the stalls and floats jump in front of you. They’ll be quick, they know how it works. One year a friend of mine sold vodka jelly shots with the tag line “get boozed without needing the loos”. She made £3,000.

what to wear at Notting Hill Carnival

What to wear

Feathers, sequins – if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Sensible footwear. You will be dancing and walking around ALL day so get comfy. Flip flops or anything open toed will not make you popular as you start fights with people for accidentally stepping on your toes for the eleventy millionth time.

I love a bum bag me, not a colourful ‘I heart London’ tourist fanny pack (although now I write it it’s sounding ‘so bad it’s good’ kitsch and I’d like one please). A leather festival bum bag or anything small and well sealed so stuff won’t fall out or get yoinked. You want to be hands free so you can hold drinks/ food/ hands so put as much in your pockets/ boots/ bra.

Layer up

It’s warm when you are throwing shapes and surrounded by revellers but it’s still London and I’m one of those people who if I feel even slightly cold I start whining and want to go home immediately.

Eat and drink

It’s a long day/ days so make the most of the amazing Caribbean food being freshly cooked on the stands. Jerk Chicken, rice and peas, fried plantain, dumplings are musts. Drink can be purchased easily all around but they bumph up the prices so it’s best to BYOB of rum. We always make carnival juice which is rum with pineapple and coconut juice. And here is where we make the same mistake every year: What we do is get out our small water bottles, decant the carnival juice into them and pour out the hydrating life saving water on the pavement instead of into us.

Notting Hill Carnival sound systems

Sound Systems

NHC has over 30 sound systems which are basically big, free, street parties. They play anything from traditional Carnival sets of Calypso, Samba and Soca to hip hop, reggae and dub step. Anything can pop up, and these static sound systems of Carnival are famous platforms for new and emerging music. Unfortunately the GOOD TIMES Sound System will not be present this year after over 20 years with Norman Jay at the Helm due to ‘extenuating circumstances’ but they promise it will be a years sabbatical and they’ll be back in 2012. Excluding GOOD TIMES here are a few of my favourites:

Sancho Panza: Between Middle Row and Conland St for a history of House music.
Aba Shanti: On the corner of East and Southern Row for some roots, reggae and dub.
Mangrove Sound: Outside 3 All Saints Road for some traditional carnival Soca and reggae.
Rampage: Colville Square if you are into Hip Hop, dance hall and bashment.

Saturday 27th August
WTF @ Cherry Jam, 58 Porchester Road, W2 6ET. 9pm till 3am. £10 on the guest list
These guys will get you in the Carnival mood with some Hip Hop, House and RnB club classics. A perfect start, ask around and find out what’s going on around the Sound Systems and after parties.BBM:26032164 Text 07766 232 234 e-mail / Twitter: @DjMaintain

Sunday 28th August
Lostbahnhof Carnival After Party @ Raving Buddha, 77 Goldhawk Road W12 8EG. 7pm till 12am £5-8
I went to this last year and these guys know how to do a Carnival after party, it was off the hook. They’ll be playing some Old School Garage, Jungle, Dub step and acid house. Wookie will no doubt deliver one of his old school sets alongside Mr Beatnick, Semtek and more.

Bring The Lights Down, History of Carnival Special @ Blag Club, 68 Notting Hill Gate W11 3HT
Playing old school house and garage, funky, electro, deep and tech to jungle plus a few Carnival classics thrown into the mix. They are being backed by Red Stripe which can only be a good thing. To get you name on the guest list txt your name and leblow to 07949478573 or BB PIN 21B74085

The Notting Hill Carnival, Sunday 28th & Monday 29th August 2011

Amazing pics taken (definitely not stolen *ahem*) from Random Image

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