World in Motion: Carnival Time

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“We felt that although West Indians, Africans, Irish and many other nationalities all live in a very congested area, there is very little communication between us. If we can infect them with a desire to participate then this can only have good results.” – Rhaune Laslett

It seems that ‘The Riots’ are still delivering aftershocks. It transpires that the powers that be have decided to turn off a couple of soundsystems at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival. Firstly, and most unsurprisingly, is the cancellation of Rampage, which is by far the biggest and busiest soundsystem at the event, housing upwards of 10,000 ravers at any given point. I say it’s unsurprising because Rampage is synonymous with trouble requiring a constant and extensive police presence in response to the level of violence that has gone on in the past. Rampage is great but it really suffers from the antagonistic atmosphere, worsened when the riot police descend on the soundsystem tooled up and ready for action at the stroke of 7pm to make everyone calmly fuck off. However, the biggest shock of the weekend is the cancellation of the KCC stage. This is completely inexplicable, KCC pump out a euphoric blend of bassline, UK funky and techno to the pilled up masses, no more trouble than anywhere else in carnival and one of the only out and out house soundsystems. OK, I might have told a small lie about there never being trouble. Last year saw a bit of bottle chucking at the very end of the second day after an entirely peaceful weekend for KCC. The problem was that the bottle chucking looked suspiciously like a riot and everyone is having the shits about anything that looks or sounds even remotely like that. But in all honesty, it could have happened anywhere and the odd scene like that did pop up elsewhere, but most importantly it in no way reflected the overall tone of the system.

I personally think it all smells a bit like bullshit when you have more than doubled the Carnival police force. Why not just police KCC in the way that Rampage has been policed for the last five years? This is the classic brute force, knee jerk response that does nothing more than piss people off and shit-whisk an already tense situation. Tense because carnival is tense, tense because London is tense and tense because everyone, especially the police, are expecting  some haggard shit to go down. Everyone needs to stand down and get their party hat back on because Carnival is a celebration of London, its history and its diversity, it is the biggest party in Europe and you are talking about a tiny percentage of people who cause trouble. And it is this tiny minority who are being used as the excuse to police and control Carnival to within an inch of its life. There is nothing inherently violent about the event or the people who go, because it’s a huge variety of people from all social backgrounds. And do you know what else? Listening to a certain type of music is not an indicator of anything other than your own narrow-minded prejudice.

In other Carnival related news it seems that Rhaune Laslett’s role as the original organiser of the Carnival has finally been recognised. She started the Notting Hill Festival way back in 1965 as a celebration of the diversity of the the area, which at that time was seen more as a slum than a millionaires paradise. Laslett’s festival directly evolved into the Carnival we know and love today and it is only right that her place in history be noted by one of those sexy blue plaques.

Here is a video of a cat…

Words:

Marcus Harris

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