Notting Hill Carnival London

Carnival is not all drinking Special Brew and being cheeky to policemen. Some people have to work, and hard. Surrounding carnival, a network of concerts, jams, and miscellaneous jollification brings a couple of dozen of the Caribbean's top soca entertainers to London in August, on a circuit which includes the major Caribbean cities of Canada and continues back via New York for Labor Day celebrations.

Around 3am on carnival Monday, Austin Lyons, aka Superblue, a Trinidadian former fisherman recycled via his massive 1991 hit "Get Something and Wave" into the island's biggest dance star, was to be found waiting backstage at the UN Club in Tottenham, three hours late to perform. On stage, the Barbadian soca-rock fusion group Kross Fyah thumped out numbers such as "Oba Dele", the ode to a Barbadian runner which won Road March of '95 in the island's carnival equivalent and launched Kross Fyah as stars throughout the region. A heaving mass of teenage sirens in white-laced tights pumped their groins concentratedly and blew foghorns. Superblue and his group, the Love Band, readied themselves for their '96 Trinidad carnival hit "Bounce", in praise of a selection of resilient celebrities from Muhammad Ali to the Muppets. We all linked hands, said a prayer ending with the phrase "The word is soca, amen!" And then waited some more. I left at 4am, pleading a luncheon engagement with a carnival float. Blue apparently performed at 5am, but still wowed them.

Notting Hill is not the place to see the scurrilous, social commentary function still a part of calypso and soca - "jump up and wave something in the air" lyrics predominate, which can get boring. On the other hand, a greater range of individual islands' sounds is getting to be represented, challenging the Trinidadian domination.

The 10-piece St Lucia orchestra Reasons was around town, demonstrating their mix of French Antillean zouk and soca. I caught them in a colourful but staid show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, struggling doggedly with a small audience of besuited coffee-drinking anti-revellers, before they headed off to the Elite Night Club, formerly Dougies, in Hackney, for a rather more animated gig. Another Franco-English island, Dominica, was represented by the quartet WCK, who purveyed their own zouk mix around clubs in Southall and Hackney.

The emerging soca nation par excellence, though, is Barbados, which sent not only Kross Fyah but top calypsonians Gabby, Red Plastic Bag and Mac Fingall, author of one of the chief hits of this carnival, Big Belly Man ("I ain't dancing with no big belly man... I want a bony man..."). RPB, as he's known, and Fingall put on a great double act for a Dragon stout-swigging Barbadian audience in a Wembley school hall on Saturday, achieving a level of audience participation that would have had the majority of the world's entertainers green with envy.

Superblue, by the way, left for Trinidad "pissed off" with being kept hanging about, but professional to the end.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Arts and Entertainment

Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say


Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Security Advisor – Permanent – Surrey - £60k-£70k

    £60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    MI Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – £25k-£35k

    £25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    English Teacher

    £110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job ? This is a new post...

    Primary General Cover Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Southampton: We are looking for Primary School ...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album