Living in the vicinity and being of Caribbean descent, Carnival has been an integral part of my life.
I’ve been attending since I was too small to know what it was, but would dance to the music even when people towered over me!
From my Dad and his sound system mates in the 70’s and 80s, to my brother who continues to be a part of that in this current day and to all my friends currently who play mas on both days for a number of bands and friends who play pan, I couldn’t imagine life without it.
For a few years after attending far too many sound systems, I stopped actually going in, and instead soaked up the atmosphere outside my front door, waiting for friends from all over London, UK & Worldwide to pop in to say Hi and use the toilet, for free! Lol But this state of madness quickly came to an end and I resumed my stance with my cousin at Trellik Tower.
Each year that would be our spot, bumping into every one we knew, but as my other cousins would bound off the truck in Pretty Mas costumes each year to say Hi, I’d try on their wings, but knew I’d probably never do it. LOL… I mean dare I say it, I was never a real fan of Soca, more a reggae head.
But in 2019 my cousin neglected to tell me she’d no longer be standing next to me, and would instead be taking part! I was aghast to say the least, but they gave me an option to get involved, and well… I finally said Yes! So in 2019, I finally jumped with FunatikMas.
I didn’t really know what I was signing up to, despite watching the parade pass for many years, here I was absolutely shitting myself! LOL.
So I thought I’d share what happens, when you take the plunge, because I’m determined to make YOU, yes you reading this, take part too!
Most bands launch around March, where you get to see a glimpse of the theme the costumes will be following, and you can pay your deposit right there and then at the launch of your chosen band.
Around July, those amazing angels, who find the time, go to mas camp each night and get to work making your costumes by hand, late into the night and all the way up to Costume pick up in late August.
I should probably add, these costumes are made for you to celebrate your body in anyway you want to . Let me insert an article here, that my friend Anthea did for Dazed here
so don’t feel put off, they’ll make something you are comfortable in, and if possible, the team will make it happen for you.
On the day of Carnival, Put your costume on, Apply your make up and jewels & most importantly comfortable shoes and walk down to meet your truck before 9am. Other than your phone, lip gloss & a bit of money if you think you’ll need to go to the toilet enroute. You need nothing else.
FunatikMas gives you breakfast before you set off, so you start the day correctly. We then set off at 10/10:30 straight onto the route to the sounds of soca from the resident DJs. Cue smiles, dancing, chipping and vibes! It was at this point, I looked back and everyone just looked so gorgeous! People were lining up on Ladbroke Grove and the rest of the route to take pics and I ran into some friends 10 minutes in…
The bar soon opens, and is open for all those taking part with the band. There’s as much water as there is rum, so pace yourselves! We had an exceptionally hot year, so water was definitely also my friend this year.
You’ll have to be patient, as at times the truck will stop, a million times… but thats your chance to have a dance, pop off the route to find a toilet or find a friend and say a quick Hello.
You’ll also be given a hearty tasty lunch, ours was courtesy of Supertrini Catering and was lush and exactly what you want to keep you going. ( Plantain is life.. just putting that out there.)
Be prepared for everyone from tourists, journalists and locals wanting to take a photo of you and the band… Don’t worry it’s a good sign that they love your costume.
You’ll eventually get to Westbourne Park Road, where all trucks pass the very important judging point. Here is where you channel your inner peacock! You dance, smile and show off your costume so the judges get a real feel of what your band is about.
After that you’ll continue on the rest of the route, Getting some more snack goodies from Funatiks, finishing at about 6pm. Now time for us to navigate the crowds strategically and find the quickest route home for us. 32,000 steps down, I was finally home with feet that no longer worked!
I want to thank the Funatik Mas family because they really did make me feel comfortable but also ready to experience something I never really knew I needed in my life…I wouldn’t have wanted my first experience to be with any other band…
Will I be back in August 2020? Well yes! Wanna join me? Let me know.
For more info about Notting Hill Carnival, Visit here where you’ll find next year’s dates.
Any questions about the experience? please do get in touch and If you normally attend Notting Hill carnival, who do you jump with?