Why Is Notting Hill Carnival Important?


Written by Don't Panic
24 Thursday 24th August 2017

Notting Hill Carnival - that one weekend of the year when Londoners from all backgrounds join forces in mutual appreciation of life's greatest pleasures: rum, chicken and bashment.

But why is it important, and who is it good for? We asked DJs from two of Carnival’s best-loved sound systems to explain what Notting Hill means to them and the community. 



Gabriel and Benjamin, The Heatwave

Dancehall soundsystem from London, responsible for the constantly-touring Hot Wuk bashment parties.

“Carnival is great in so many ways. It's a celebration of Caribbean culture that has brought so much life and energy and creativity to London over the last 50 years. The impact of Jamaican sound system culture on the UK music scene is impossible to overstate - though many people have tried to play it down over the years. So much British music owes a huge debt to the pioneers of Carnival, and you can see that in the huge range of genres and styles that people rave to at Notting Hill. It's an amazing party - a couple of days when huge numbers of people come together to have fun, which in itself is an important and political thing.

We've been going to Carnival for over a decade, and first played there about five or six years ago: afterparties, trucks and then a soundsystem for the last couple years. It’s our biggest influence and has had a huge impact on everything we do.

There have been so many special moments over the years. The first time we played on a float was amazing: turning the corner onto Ladbroke grove and seeing the sea of people and feeling the wave of excitement. In 2015 Jeremy Corbyn jumped on the mic at our sound system and gave a speech which was pretty memorable.  

Carnival is unique because it’s so open - a free party that everyone can enjoy. It brings together so many people in unity to party together and celebrate life. It’s important because it is a space organised and run by afro-Caribbean and black British people celebrating and preserving Caribbean traditions and culture.”

The Heatwave’s new single ‘Walk Out Gyal’ is out now. Catch them at O2 Forum Kentish Town on Saturday 26th Aug.



DJ D’Nyce, Rampage Sound

Legendary London sound system run by Mike Anthony, Treble T, Maurice and D'Nyce. One of the largest sounds at Notting Hill Carnival.

“So many anecdotes come to mind when I think about Carnival, but one at the forefront is the moment we had Shaggy appear on our stage. It was the first time that I ever saw police with disbelief on their faces! Mouthing along to 'It Wasn't Me'. A rare moment... 

Rampage first launched at Notting Hill Carnival in the mid 90's, which was a move instigated by our founder Mike Anthony who lived in the area at the time. Mike had the idea and the perfect location. Not knowing what to expect the first year, we were blown away when 10 – 15,000 revellers turned up on our road.

There are several reasons why Notting Hill Carnival is a special event in the British social calendar. First and foremost it is a celebration of Caribbean culture within the UK and the contribution it has on the British way of life. It has evolved over the years and is inclusive of all cultures but the Caribbean theme is still visible.

The UK and Notting Hill is extremely diverse and Carnival has the power to bring all together and break down cultural barriers. For two days of the year we enjoy life and forget everything else. That's also why visitors arrive on mass from Europe and other parts of the world to experience the Notting Hill Carnival

It is a time of people uniting for a common goal of letting go and celebrating together. The music is never ending. Your stamina will be tested!”

Watch 'Nice Up The Dance' - a new mini-doc about sound system culture created by Rampage and Farah.

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