In the words of Alston Becket Cyrus, “Carnival is mas and music! Carnival is calypso! Carnival is mas and steel-band! Carnival is peace!” As an innate music lover, my fondness for Soca and Carnival on a whole transcends the revelry or “good-time” that most may identify with. I have a penchant appreciation for the carnival art-form; the sweet soca vibes, diversity of costumes and particularly the inclusive harmony.
On the 8th August, 2019 I received a notification from Facebook that I’d been tagged in a post by my fellow compatriot in London – Ianna Parsons (whom I fondly call IP) stating that “Trinis in London” which is a media house in London, was looking for “volunteer” photographers. I had no DSLR camera and have only had amateur photography experience but with a determined and optimistic outlook I decided that I was going to give this a shot (no pun intended). I immediately sent off an email denoting my interest highlighting my field of work being a Freelance Writer and was instantly contacted about the prospect. Yes, this was NOT a paid engagement but the opportunity to give my service to such a reputable medium and have my effort noticed and featured was more than I could have hoped for. As I had recently started my blog and sourcing material, I reckoned that the best way to see the bands was to actually be in the bands and that was possible as I was provided with a Notting Hill Carnival “Access All Areas” pass accredited by The Outside Organisation which allowed me to go into the various bands to take photographs.
It was in this moment that I was reminded by the words articulated by one of my associates – Calvert Jones whom I hold in high regard, “Avoid going to “hunting” events to try to meet great people, you will most likely keep attracting the desperate and opportunistic types. Involve yourself in activities and events like volunteer groups or community projects where people with great hearts and the best spirits show up… Generally, the better we all become at giving is the more we are available to gain.”
With reference to volunteering ones’ time, one of my favourite motivational speakers/authors – Les Brown opined that “There is a presence within you where you can find joy, comfort and inner strength to give you the capacity to handle whatever you are facing. You have something special. You have GREATNESS within you!!”
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a socaholic at heart; soca music epitomizes the powerful yet sweet effects that soca music has on me.
Dancing to soca is my escape… my release – I am sure those of you who have seen me can attest to how the music embraces my energy and engages the full embodiment of my zealous gyrations but this actuality had to be curbed as I was dedicated to my devoir. Regardless of that, it’s the unity of love that fills the atmosphere which makes me come alive, creating a certain type of vibe that makes me love Carnival!
Notting Hill Carnival 2019 showcased a spectacular production of mas, connecting a community of unity, exploding with the vibrancy of soca music that excites you to jump and wave in harmonic rhythm, tantalises with the euphoric steel-band awakening the jamboree spirit of visitors and locals alike. And the cherry on top was the dazzling array of spectacular costumes on display as it truly depicted the kaleidoscope of colour and culture of carnival in the diaspora. Not only were the senses of sight and hearing excited but the exotic aromas of mouth-watering Caribbean delicacies definitely had a nostalgic and inviting endearment.
In a nutshell, Notting Hill Carnival 2019 was both a science formula and art as it was seasoned, mixed or cooked properly into the melting pot that it is today. It is with these variables that the artistry of Notting Hill Carnival could very well be the Biggest and Hottest Carnival in the world generating over £93million and a record 2.5million people in attendance! My experience was overall a wonderful one and a great opportunity to network and enjoy the festival. To Alex, Joe, Kristian & Ghino Parker, Fancy, Franz, Ben Pester, Shireen Fenner and Ianna Parsons thank you ALL for making my first Notting Hill Carnival experience one that I’ll always remember!
Written by Kenrife Matthias