Playing Mas At Notting Hill Carnival

As I mentioned in my previous Notting Hill Carnival post, this year instead of just going with friends to the static sound-systems for both days, I “played mas” (went with one of the floats in the procession) on the 2nd day.

I’d been hoping to collect my costume about a week before carnival so that my mum could help me alter it if any parts didn’t fit, but the collection kept on getting postponed so I couldn’t actually try it on until the Sunday evening after I’d been to the first day of carnival. Thankfully it mostly fitted. The bikini bottoms were tiny so I decided to wear underwear underneath them.

We’d been told to meet at a specific side-road near the outside of the carnival around 8am because the truck was supposed to pull out at 9. We knew this wouldn’t actually happen because it was 9am “black timing” (in other words you have to add 1 or 2 hours to find out what time it will actually happen). Just to be safe we arrived there at 9.30am. This is me (tactfully covering my bum with my flag) on the tube on Monday morning:

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On our road there were about 5 other mas bands getting ready. Everyone was spraying themselves with glitter, taking photos and making final adjustments to their costumes. Me and Monique (the friend I played mas with) made friends with three girls from Trinidad who were in our band, and the cutest married couple (a white British guy and a mixed race girl with one Trini parent). This is us with two of the Trini girls while we were waiting to get on the road:

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We were given breakfast and managed to find a toilet to use in a recording studio on the road (we needed to empty our bladders to avoid having to queue with members of the public for disgusting porta-loos along the route). Eventually at about 12 we all got behind the truck, the music started and we headed for the carnival route.

People who lived along the small roads heading towards carnival were standing outside their houses smiling and taking pictures, but it was nothing compared to the attention we got in the actual carnival. I must have stopped to be in photos with about 300 different people throughout the day, including my mum who managed to find me after looking for 3 hours:

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We danced/walked along the road for 8 and a half hours and I was happy that I never had to use the toilet! We had unlimited drinks from the truck so I was planning to get drunk but actually after 1 rum punch I decided I was too hot and sweaty so I just wanted water. I don’t know if I can upload videos onto here so I put it on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPMukLG0xoQ&feature=youtu.be

This is the married couple I mentioned earlier:

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The parade route goes round the edge of carnival so I didn’t see what was going on at the sound systems etc where I normally am, but I saw a different side of carnival. It was so nice to see people of all ages, races etc just loving life! Some of them were standing by the road just enjoying the colourful costumes and taking photos, and some people who knew nothing about Caribbean music came behind our float and danced with us.

I don’t see many occasions like this in England, where so many different types of people come together, talk to strangers and are happy, but I love it so much! I’ve made a promise to myself that however old I am, whatever job I have etc, I’ll always make sure I’m in England for the end of August so I can go to Carnival.

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