Has Notting Hill Carnival Lost It?

It is with great pleasure that I welcome my second guest poster, another good friend of mine Nadia Auckburally. Carnival time is almost upon us again in Notting Hill, London but Nadia questions whether it is still relevent and authentic to its roots? NiteGlow..

As Notting Hill Carnival quickly approaches us, I wonder to myself if this will be another year of disappointment for me? I say this as I feel the carnival is no longer authentic to its roots.

Carnival began in January 1959 in St Pancras Town Hall as a response to the depressing state of race relations at the time; the UK's first widespread racial attacks (the Notting Hill race riots) had occurred the previous year. The carnival was a huge success, despite being held indoors. It first moved outside and was rescheduled to August in 1965. By 1976, the event had become definitely Caribbean in flavour. (Wikipedia)

The carnivals I have experienced in Trinidad & Tobago, Caribana in Toronto, Brooklyn and Miami have a mainly Soca presence to them. In fact Soca music has always been the cornerstone to all Caribbean carnivals. However, Notting Hill Carnival seems to have forgotten this. Since when do carnivals play homage to garage, hip hop, house, etc?

Other carnivals around the world have hundreds of organised floats blaring out music with masqueraders wearing costumes that have an impressive display of colours and creativity. You can watch the video below for a carnival in Trinidad.

All too often you only see the drips and drabs of parades and floats wondering along the streets of Notting Hill. I always feel like there is a lack of effort. Anyone who has experienced a real carnival will know what I am getting at here. This year London prepares once again to take on an estimated 1.5 million people during the bank holiday weekend August the 30th and 31st. I cannot help thinking what it would be like to have a full carnival parade like the ones in Trinidad or other parts of the world.

One of the other factors that disappoints me about the carnival is the substantial amount of crime and disorder which is always covered by the press. Some would feel is an unfair, negative and one sided view of carnival. Having said that there have been some serious violent incidents in the past and it is such a shame that a minority wants to start trouble. Carnival spirit is supposed about people coming together and having a good time.

This year the organisers have decided the procession will start earlier at 9.00am so that the judging of floats can be completed by 18.30pm and there will be more rigorous noise monitoring. All this is so that the police are able to control the crime throughout the day and riots at the end of the night! With so many measures in place I wonder if people will truly be able to relax and enjoy themselves.

I hope that somehow that Notting Hill Carnival can turn itself around for the sake of generations of people with Caribbean roots and all other cultures who come to enjoy the carnival.