Finally fulfilling my promise to some veteran carnival-heads to 'jump' with them, I signed up with an official Notting Hill Carnival mas band, to truly be where the real fun and frolics take place and I'm so glad I did it. But for all the fun I did have, I have to stress that the constant rain amongst other elements taught me - a first timer, some much needed lessons for any future street party adventures. Admittedly, the session did get to a point where the enjoyment couldn't be sustained because I wasn't prepared. So for anyone wanting to jump in the future, here are my recommendations in how to survive.
"If it rains there are only two things that will protect you - an umbrella or a proper, military style poncho and I'm not talking about one of those cellophane, plastic jobbies that are better for wrapping sandwiches in, they are rubbish."
Section A: Clothing
1. Footwear; you are going to be walking for over 6 hours on concrete...I say walking, but dancing is the word and if you've seen how people get down...or up..or sideways, or even horizontal (not me mum) comfortable and protective footwear is a must. You'll be walking up-hill sometimes, through rubbish, food even broken glass. You'll walk amongst unstable, drunk, over-excited, step-on-your-toes people, so wearing open-toe footwear is a risk you should avoid. Heels, pumps, sandals and flip flops are all out unless you fancy a trip to the Chiropodist, but in saying that I saw plenty of people who wore all of the above!
2. If it rains there are only two things that will protect you - an umbrella or a proper, military style poncho and I'm not talking about one of those cellophane, plastic jobbies that are better for wrapping sandwiches in, they are rubbish. Though your costume won't be seen with the poncho on, it is a far better option than having to go and see a doctor because you've suffered hypothermia. I got completely soaked and believe me when I say it sucked the enjoyment right out of the experience because the sun wasn't there to keep the body warm - wet, clingy clothes, cold air - no mate, this is not the way!
Batman maybe lethal with his bare hands, but he still rocks a very handy utility belt.
You too need to rock a bag, pouch, utility belt of your own, but what it needs to contain is ever so more important.
You will need...
- Your own drink
- A change of top or something dry and warm you can put on at the end.
- Hand sanitiser
- A water-proof, air tight phone pouch - my HTC phone and Flip Ultra camera are dead - RIP beloved.
- Food/snacks to eat or money to buy some.
- Miniature first aid kit.
Surprisingly toilet opportunities are accommodated for in abundance...but you will be paying for the privilege - so carry £1 coins.
If you don't like crowds and hectic going-ons, this is not the place for you.
Being part of a mas band is isolating, you'll see carnival from the point of view of having a personal party, but oddly enough you won't see carnival in its entirety and believe me, you won't care!
See you in 2015!