Carnival!

There are two photo galleries here: Bank Holiday Sunday is shot mostly in digital while Bank Holiday Monday is shot entirely on film. I had to  acknowledge that my body wasn't strong enough to endure 26 degree heat with both cameras on me both days.

 

Allow me to say a little something about Notting Hill Carnival. If you are reading this and you don't know, Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of British Caribbean people and culture which has annually been held in West London since 1964. I don't know what it was like in the 60s but in 2017, people of every race and nationality are in attendance. And the best thing about this is that even as the audience becomes more diverse, everything about carnival is still quintessentially black and Caribbean. Going to carnival is a chance to learn about the Caribbean and how intricately some parts of it are connected with Britain (I don't need to elaborate on the details of that connection). If you are British and don't understand the concept of being black and British, this is a good place to start. Likewise, if you are black and used to African parties, go to carnival and see how the other black British people like to do it.

 

Now, I'm not going to claim that carnival is a magical fantasy land free from politics (see the 'Bollocks to Brexit' stickers strewn all over the floor or the burnt-out Grenfell Tower looming in the distance) but the one thing you sense ubiquitously walking along the streets is that everyone is there to enjoy themselves. As my boyfriend said sixty times that day, "it's just vibesy". And it really is. The constant police presence is vaguely annoying but the sound systems are loud enough to redirect your attention. A horde of people running in your direction (is it a fight? did someone throw acid?) while you simultaneously try to finish your chicken, rice and peas and run at the same time brings down the mood significantly but then you get caught up in the parade when you hear a float blasting Bodak Yellow. Some party pooper evangelical Christians shout at you through a megaphone that if you don't repent you will die and burn in Hell, but then a group of topless beautiful men walk by and you don't care about your imminent suffering. Carnival is just vibes. And the people are just gorgeous. Everyone is doing the most and you appreciate it all. Of course, it took you thirty minutes to leave the tube station because it was so packed, and you certainly lost weight purely through sweating, and the port-a-loos smell so bad you don't dare relax your bladder, but all of this is bearable when you consider that of the possible millions of people here, hardly anyone is trying to ruin anyone else's fun. A brief halt to the usual misery of Londoners. Britain is already pretty dry and crusty: could you imagine August without Notting Hill Carnival? What could ever replace it? Carnival is a treasure and I hope you see something special in these photographs.

(When you hover over the photos, click the little expand sign to view the photos on a black background).

 

Sunday

Monday

Shot on a Canon EOS 550D and Samsung EXC1.