You may have noticed, a bit, that I am a little in love with this town called London. To me it represents everything that is cosmopolitan (not the girlie mag neither), & more. It pisses on New York & LA & you don’t even have to bring the EU cities into it. No contest what so ever, yet.
One of my favorite things about London is the Notting Hill Carnival. You see I was living in Holland Park in the 70’s which is when it all started. I’ve been going regularly, but not religiously, ever since. Every year it gets better & better. Bigger & bigger. So we do what we do so well in this islands. When its big & successful slag it off & start bitching until you get rid of it or have a different thing all together. Then it fails & then we all get to watch some dumb TV show debate about it.
The London Carnival works. It epitomizes multiculturalism to the limit. People are flocking, just for the week end, from Italy, France & Germany, to experience. More importantly to learn how to chump on a piece of Jerk Chicken in front of a massive sound system play dub so loud that you can feel your liver vibrate. The smell of food, the music, the buzz & the energy is a new experience each time I go. You can not buy this for love nor money.
This year the media & the Police decided that they should put as many people off as possible. Here are some of the key words: The lull before the storm, total cost of £4m , it’s too big for the area, public order offence, last years stabbings, & as much negative headlines as an event can handle. I do not think any of this is accidental. The real trouble makers & crooks here are those sleazy Estate Agents in the Kensington Area that have their eyes on the unrealized potential of the real estate left in North Kensington. Get rid of the Carnival, buy out the houses occupied by the existing community bit by bit until you get a whole new neighborhood at a big price. If the cost of security is so high then charge it & stop bitching. There are enough people to pay for this. The actual Trust that runs the whole event employs a hand full of people. That’s commitment for you.
On the other hand I have been to the Rio Carnival too. Actually the whole of Brazil shuts down for the Carnival for a week. As a result it attracts tourism from the whole world as well as their own South American market. The vibe & attitude is pretty much the same. Smell of food, Brazillian variety, Music (Samba Style). But the feel & vibe is essentially the same. The big difference is the approach to the event itself. It is turned into a money making event. Hotels don’t discount & only book for the whole week. The whole of Rio seems to exist, at least in part, because of the Carnival. They do have a big edge on the London version. They spend a lot of time, energy & money to make it a successful event. I paid $700 for my ticket to see the actual full on procession. Guess what I was not alone. The whole damn lot was sold out ages before. The resulting floats & costumes are breath taking. There’s also commitment. But not just from a few but everyone. For sure the Rio people, some, leave the place for the country side, coz they have seen it & done it so long. But the vibe is great.
For my money, mainly because I love this town, I would rather do Notting Hill. For a start its cheaper, the street vibe is better. The Jerk chicken is tastier than the steak sticks you buy for 50 cents. And the range of music is far more advanced. In Rio you do have a choice. Its called Samba. In here, you have, Reggae, Dub, Calypso, Ska, House, Garage & anything else anyone wants to play. In fact I like this event so much I am thinking about hooking a pair of huge speakers to the front of my Harley & have a bunch of people dance in front.
Big Respect to all that went & smiled all day.