Reviews: Notting Hill Carnival 2018

Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event that has taken place in London since 1966 on the streets of Notting Hill, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster, each August over two days. This carnival averages 2 million attendees, which of course causes logistical issues, crowd control challenges, violence and STORMERS!

There has been much debate about the authenticity and even hype around Notting Hill Carnival, as usual.. we’ve got some feedback from masqueraders. Notting Hill takes place over a two day period. Carnival Sunday and Monday. Carnival Sunday being the day for “dutty mas”

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Regarding NHC History

Opinion #1 

I don’t go to Carnival for dub or the sound systems, I don’t particularly care for dancehall on the Road and Jouvert (early morning Jouvert) took me a while to appreciate, but….. …what the purists need to remember is that, this is London (and by extension Manchester, Leeds, Leicester etc.).

Carnival in the UK has a very distinct history, this is not Trinidad, Barbados, St. Lucia or Jamaica. It’s the meeting & melding of all of those islands & more, into a uniquely British-Caribbean story. Deal with it

As for stormers,  again I’m with the purists, but I’ve seen stormers in every island I’ve been to. There are also systemic issues such as the police loving to stop and search young black men but being lax when it comes to crowd control, additionally you have very narrow streets at some points. Let’s not forget this is the biggest carnival in the world

What I love about Notting Hill is the blending of our cultures. Grenadians run Jouvert, Trinis have the road & the Jamaicans make sure everyone gets fed. Very simplistic I know,  as you have bajan & vincy bands but understand is its own thing & built on a collective identity.

Opinion #2 

I can’t lie, NHC will never compare to carnival in the Caribbean because there’s a lack of respect for it.People have flown from the West Indies to play mas here and were pissed at how the whole thing is treated and I can’t say I blame them.

When you see us complain about things its not for no reason. This isn’t how carnival is supposed to be. The level of safety is not there. The respect for soca, masqueraders and the culture isn’t there. It’s sad but we make the best of what we’re given. You think so many man could grab up women in Spice mas and not get beaten within an inch of their lives? Spectators are so fucking trash here. The more I think back the more it actually pisses me off.

People really lack broughtupsy, respect and manners. People pay big money for this and you treat it like a street party where you can grab up gyal and run up in the band with your DEAD waistlines. This is why many people differentiate us (London based West Indians) from those back home because many of you know absolutely nothing. You don’t even make the effort to learn either. This is why we get called ‘one dance twitter’ or ‘caribbeanssss’ because you lot have no knowledge of your culture. It’s embarrassing.

Fix up please before we lose NHC  all together because it could be heading that way. You lot really make it hard for the rest of who are actually trying to preserve the culture as a whole. Anyway! I hope we end up with fences cutting spectators off from masqueraders. That’s the only way you people will learn. This is why you can’t have nice things.

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Sunday Mas – Dutty Mas

Band: Unknown

I’ve been to many many carnivals. Many times and in different places. I have never ever ever EVER felt so violated in my lifee!These UK men are foul–A VERY LARGE MAJORITY… I even wanna say all. I’m so disgusted. I hate people.

These men will pass by and try to cop a feel. Some bolddlly grabbed/slapped my ass. One even push his hands in my damn butt crack. I got so tired of punching niggas in their faces. I was holding back tears cuz the shit was nonstop! I CRIED when I got in. I just……

I’m really trying to remain positive, but I’m honestly just so drained. Niggas just prouuddllyy and casually sexually assaulting women in broad daylight like it ain’t nobody’s business. Fucking garbage.

I barely danced cuz I was worried what these sweffff mother fuckers would do next. Don’t dance & they STILL fucking harassing you. Coming to hump me..grabbing me aggressively..Blocking my path so I can’t pass. I hate all these niggas. I wish them a slow and painful death.

Band: Pure Lime

I have been going NHC for 10+ years… if you stick with your team/ band..the people that actually matter and pay to be there, you are less likely to encounter nonsense.. …come out of that and you’re left to your own peril.

The DJ …In my opinion was good. I feel he represented a good amount of the islands playing some really good tunes.. not just the mainstream ones. Security definitely could have been better but I definitely recall stormers being thrown out regularly.

I was not impressed that they did not supply everyone with rain ponchos… only a select few..or you brought your own. The goodie bag left a lot to be desired. I paid £60 Drinks and food inclusive but I expected more than just a shirt n bottle in the bag. At least a towel or hanky

Queuing for drinks was not so painful. Staff were polite and responsive. I lost my bottle and this was spotted by a staff who approached me with a full new bottle and a rope to secure it around my neck.

Drinks: it was Meh. The pre made rum punch was horrid…mainly because I personally dislike the brand of tropical juice they used….luckily the bar staff were heavy handed with the white rum. I wouldn’t say that there was a satisfactory array of drinks but at least they had Wray and Nephew.

It was again cold but decent tasting rice and peas with chicken…the plantain was stale and unsweet. But definitely better than what I had tasted in TnT and Bermuda. They stopped serving drinks to allow an organized distribution of food.

There was a masquerader that needed dairy free, gluten free..they sent a staff member to the closest food store to buy her something to eat. I thought quite highly of that gesture. There was an array of sauces to use which was cute. Lunch was Ok. For me..the best this year.

I played with Pure Lime on Sunday due to good previous reviews. I found the band to be very organised and attentive to their masqueraders. Food: breakfast was cold coco bread and fried saltfish. There were a baked option, gluten free and vegan options

Band: Abir

SHELL!!!! It rained ALL DAY but that never stopped the vibes
I did not hear any Dancehall all day and was very happy about this. Heard music from all the islands I think.

Of course, the trucks left late but that was Nottinghill Carnival’s fault and not Abir. When we did get on the road we were greeted with a performance by Iwer George!

Drinks – Opening for serving for the drinks truck was waaay too high and I had to bruk my neck every time I wanted a drink. The bar also had a rule to only serve 35ml shots at the beginning (so I was told) so when I gave them my cup I got it back with less than half the cup with drink…SMH

Food – There was brunch but I missed that. Lunch was served from the drinks truck, so you had to bruk your neck for food from a moving truck as well and they distributed snacks on the road when the trucks had stopped at the end.

Security – Lord Jesus the stormers…. DJ’s kept on prompting the revellers to secure the band “If you see somebody without an arm band in the band run them” type a thing but in pouring rain and people having on jackets and coats and all sort of thing…how? I just stopped dancing with anybody who didn’t look like they were in the band. I wasn’t groped or touched inappropriately but from the number of teenage boys running in and basically rubbing themselves on people, I’m not surprised

Restroom – When you find one, stop and join the line or Pay £3 or find bush. Not a wee wee truck in sight  Never been seen yet..

Band: Island Mas

On Sunday I played jab with Island mas, it was pretty good vibes and the music was lively, there were a couple of guys that were too pushy and the stormers were out in force. There was no breakfast to offer (though apparently there was the year before)and even though they asked for our meal preferences before.  Lunch was COLD RICE with no chicken or anything else, and if we didn’t accept it there would be no other food. I’d play with them again purely for the vibes but the band seemed quite disorganized.

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Monday Mas – Pretty Mas

Band: Chocolate Nation Mas

On Monday I played with a section under Chocolate Nation Mas, and again there was a stormer issue, in NHC security is always quite lax so people can easily push in, in comparison to the Caribbean,  there is security walking through the bands. Chocolate Nation had pre made drinks, so you could choose from rum and coke, rum and lemonade, brandy and coke or vodka and cranberry juice… and that was it. I managed to get lunch which was much better than the cold rice from Island Mas! But a few of my friends weren’t able to, lunch was a free for all, they should have done lunch by sections so people didnt have to queue for ages.

Band: MWD Carnival

I had the most amazing experience w/ registration and distribution. Flora, the designer, takes so much pride in her work & it really shows. She had me fanning my eyes when I saw my costume and that goody bag! Omg! She started crying 🤣 that’s how passionate she is!

To clarify, this was a section within a larger band— sort of like how One Island Band in Miami operates. I really wish they had their own band because they really do know understand Carnival is all about. They lifted my spirits! PHENOMENAL energy from them. TRUE MASQUERADERS

Let us BOWWW our heads for this goody bag and costume please?! Because FLORA mf DID THAT! Okayyy !!!! I ent have enough characters to list everything that came in my goody bag ! I was blown away

Body wear for my individual costume is an absolute FAV. I felt like royalty!

Notting Hill Carnival 2018
Drew Fuss Photography

Band: Euphoria Carnival

These ppl have a serious communication issues, they never ever replied to questions posted on any social media platform. KMT. My brother said they replied to emails but I ain’t sending no emails, so I basically had to wait for them to advertise. Initially they had advertised that their website would be up on a certain date, that didn’t happen until more than a week later and they didn’t advertise distribution until less than a week before Carnival Monday and as a girl in their Party Woman 2.0 section (T-shirt) I needed time to pretty it up.

THE ROAD DID NOICE! NON-STOP VIBES! When I say non-stop I mean non-stop they started strong and did not slow down one time.

Late to move off again and had tons of stoppages on the road and I swear to God we were at one spot for at least 6 hours (I’m exaggerating but still…). Moved off at 1pm and ended around 8/9 I think, place was dark so must have been closer to 9

Drinks – same trucks and bar manager from the day before so same problems getting drinks but I made friends, so she just filled me up when I went back. They had Duppyshare rum which I’ve never had before, it did the job of getting me nice.

Food – same as Abir. I had a Chicken roti both days that was the only option and when u haffi walk, whine and eat it kinda make sense

Security – no stormers in sight. Security was tight and they had identifying numbers which was missing from the day before. One girl who was security had on more paint than me and was extremely drunk.

Restroom – WeeWee Truck!  Portaloos didn’t have wash basins but had soap…. but they had hand sanitizer, body spray and gum on a table. No long wait either, every time I went it was a breeze even though it was only 4 for the ladies and 3 I think for men. But the band has about 400 ppl so it’s not bad.

Weather was a bit cloudy and windy in the beginning, so I was cold waiting on the parade, but sun came out when we got on the road and there was no rain all day.

All in all, I’d do these same 3 events with the same groups and be completely happy I heard other events weren’t as good and I’m very happy I didn’t waste my money going cause right now me mash up n want to soak in Epsom salts.

Fete Feedback

So, the carnival season started with (from my observations/POV) Soca Addict on August 18th with nothing again until August 22nd/23rd. With Carnival Sunday and Monday being the 26th & 27th, that was strange for me. At the same time I may not have seen half of the carnival’s offering cause you had to be a PI to find fete info even from the party’s social media and me nah run down party so I just asked my brother and he told me the fetes that were usually good (He does Nottinghill every year for the past umpteen years).

Even though I’d have love to attend all the fetes over Bank Holiday (carnival Monday is on Bank Holiday) weekend I only attended Suits on Saturday. I had work and these parties are expensive. Drink inclusive parties are £50 up (Soca Addict has £44-£55 for tickets on their page but when I was looking to buy it was £52 plus booking fee, but I had work, so I was saved that cost. Suits was £25.

Suits
London’s weather is bipolar AF! Just wanted to get that out.

Party name suits you wah wear a swimsuit right? I saw loads of girl walking with change of clothes because they couldn’t wear their outfit on the road. I never really care and doh like walk with things in my hand, so I braved the cold and went as is (Did this the whole weekend) WHAT A NICE PARTY !!

Could have been because it was my first soca party since Xaymaca Beach in Jamaica but party nice. There was even a point where Whitney Houston and Electric Slide was playing and the vibe was as great as when Soca Kingdom was playing. Looking back, it nuh make nuh sense but it worked lol

Rating: 8/10

They lose marks because we left the dock “late”. They advertised boarding at 11:30am and departure at 12pm. Saw one of the promoters and they said the boat leaving at 1pm on purpose they just advertised 12 to get people there. If I wasn’t standing on a dock in the cold being stared at by tourists and not hearing any music, it would be okay, but I wasn’t so….

Bars were too small to accommodate the crowd and the upper deck needed more sound support. There wasn’t any decor or anything just the boat itself but it had two nice green spaces that were waaaaay cooler than inside, so it was amazing even when rain started, I stayed out there cause the heat inside was way too real.

If you would like to include your review, please post it in the comments below

Yours in Mas,

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Carnival from a masquerader perspective - Where to fete? Band reviews? What to wear? I got you!

2 thoughts on “Reviews: Notting Hill Carnival 2018

  1. I had another great year at Notting Hill Carnival with UCOM (United Colours of Mas) which I highly recommend. Costume pick-up was good, communication prior to costume-pick up was excellent and quick. On Sunday, I agree security was minimal but across all bands security is much less in comparison to Monday- that is what I noted. However, we did not get many stormers. I do not think you can go to a European carnival with Caribbean carnival expectations- the music will be different as will the crowd and as will the weather! As for being offered a poncho? They were selling these for £5 on the road and also I do not recall being offered any poncho when it rained on Foreday Morning. Sunday- the music was excellent with UCOM and yes, not having toilets was a bit of a pain, traditionally UCOM doesn’t offer lunch on Sunday which was fine with my friends and I food is readily available on the route (as are toilets). Monday was the better day, weather was better, security was tight and prompt. The lunch was good, however it was delayed but this was due to a delayed start. A lot of timings are actually out of the bands’ control. The drinks (on both days) were excellent, the servers were friendly, the music was SO good on both days and not predictable at all- a mixture was played but about 95% soca from ALL islands. I cannot wait to play with UCOM next year for NHC. You have to pick the right band as with all carnivals, I heard complaints about Island Mas so I avoided them.

  2. I played with the band UCOM for Nottinghill Carnival 2018.I have played last year with the theme Reflections over their last 10years and previously in 2011 in Erotica. my reason for returning was because from the registration to playing mas they are on point with communication and I haven’t had any issues with the band overall. The costumes are always beautiful and after wearing always intact. UCOM normally announces their themes as soon as the carnival is over normally few days later but they release discriptions and you basically are visualising what the costumes could be. Based on descriptive themes released you can pre register your option you choose but be quick because they tend to sell out in pre registration.Then in December they launch where you can see the costumes being launch.

    Ucom announces their costume distribution schedule from June so you have time to plan in advance how you are collecting your costumes. The customer service I haven’t had any issues because I have had to email them to let them know someone on my behalf is collecting and the responses have been good. No issues with collecting either.

    Carnival sunday is Dutty Mas the concept of Jouvert on the road. Paint and powder. Although it rained all day the atmosphere in the band was electric and the music selection was on point. They played all the current Soca and soca music from over the years and all the islands. I never heard any dancehall from both days, so I can’t complain. They don’t serve food on Sunday but you get unlimited drinks.

    Carnival Monday FunMas Day
    The band issues a letter with their starting point so you have an idea where to meet. The band generally leaves on time. Again the music was on point as I came to the band playing hot 2018 Soca music from all islands. The dj’s they had this year was really good and the songs was predictable in terms of knowing what was playing afterwards and over the food hours and afterwards they was playing older soca so you still dance but slow paced. This year the band had a toilet truck which I found was really beneficial and greatly ideal. The food was a bit of a delay and plus alot of masqaraders so was a long wait So I went back and forth to see when it was quieted. I got 2 pieces of Chicken with fried plantain, Rice and Veg and gravy. Which was warm and had me full. Again unlimited drinks which a variety of Rum and Brandy and variety of fruit juices. Also throughout the day they offered snacks eg crisps, sweets, nutrition bars, chocolate bars to keep us going before and after lunch so I was happy with that. I just think they need better security as usually we have a good amount of policing on the roads but this year seems very unlimited so the security for the band couldn’t manage the storming of men alone. But overall the experiece with UCOM have overall been a great one. Everyone in the band is friendly and the men playing appreciate when it’s one whine, whine and leave lol. I would defiently recommend UCOM to anyone thinking of joining. Also I got a goodie bag with ucom and I recieved a thermal cup and a sports drink bottle to use on separate days. If you play VIP or VIIP you get an all inclusive bag with many items inside. I look forward to play mas again with UCOM in the coming years.

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