It's that time of the year when the biggest street festival in Europe kicks off again, yep Notting Hill Carnival . And how privileged do I feel that it all happens on Reggaegirlabouttown's doorstep.
It is Bank Holiday Weekend, all the pre carnival mashups have taken place and its time for the street party to begin. See you on the other side!!
I wake up first thing Sunday morning and ride my bike around the area to soak up pre carnival preparations. I have a pattie and rice & peas for breakfast, my staple food for the two day event (and of course rum punch) while watching all the sound systems set up and taking in that, for the next 48 hours, nothing is going to be the same.
I venture from one end of Ladbroke Grove to the other, floating in a sea of reggae pleasure. As the people flow in and the rubbish builds up, the sound systems start to play their best tracks. This year I spend most of my time at the Westbourne Park Road end. By the afternoon All Saints Road is rammed with the usual three sound systems. Somehow I manage to get through the Matrix drum ‘n’ bass crowd. The vibe was doing it at Jah Observer on Ledbury Road, always the best roots reggae soundbox at Carnival (only my opinion), and of course over the way on Talbot Road there's the ska and lovers rock at Gaz’s Rocking Blues. Always great to see that mad set up. Then a dose of King Tubby’s and Rampage to get things really serious with a bashment mix up.
This year I discover a fab new sound system! Different Strokes on St Luke's Road. They play the lot and as their motto goes ‘you never know what you’ll hear next’ - you name it, Vybz Kartel, Gyptian, Mavado, Beanie Man, Assassin, Jah Cure - I get to move to all the dancehall boys. They also mix in some roots reggae and keep the crowd guessing. And they're loving it. Just up from there is KillawattRenowned which keeps fuelling the street with the ragga vibes. So there it is, St Luke's Road is having it.
On Monday around 3pm, the Carnival crowd always look more tired but, somehow, get more energetic. Everyone knows that the end is only a few hours away and pulls together to have the last dances. ‘One more, one more’ is the universal phrase that we all have in our minds as we blow our horns to celebrate the last few tracks. Until this time next year! (I mean bring on the post Carnival mashups).