Like pretty much all large scale events in London, Notting Hill Carnival can go one of two ways: you’ll either have a great time or a really crap time. Anything in between usually means you’ve spent half the day hungover in your friend’s bed before half-heartedly heading over to Portobello Road and sitting on a street corner with a craft beer. Don’t be that guy. As Britain’s biggest street party (which doesn’t mean much) and the second biggest Carnival in the world (which means quite a lot), Notting Hill Carnival is probably London’s most eclectic and exciting event of the year. With that label comes a fair few eccentric people – some good, some funny, some just asking for a smack in the face. Know how to spot them and nothing will surprise you.
1. Bump And Grinders
If you’re female and you’re looking even vaguely inviting, you will at some stage during the day come into contact with one of these men. And by “come into contact”, we’re talking the kind of close contact you don’t even grant your boyfriend (unless it’s his birthday). Coming at you from behind, they’ll grab your hips in a vice-like grip, pounding their crotch into your tail end with all the crazed impetus of a randy bulldog. The best way to avoid this happening is dressing up as a novelty oversized tampon. That, or just don’t come to Carnival.
2. The Parade People
You’ll stare at them enviously as a flurry of sequins and feathers and shapes your body could never make unless you dislocated your hip joint pass you by. They’re everything you tried to dress like until the rain rubbed the glitter from your face and your body image complexes made you opt for jeans instead. To you it is baffling how these people are still the life and soul of the party when they’ve been sambaing around the streets for 6 hours now and definitely haven’t been drinking since 11am. Are they really that happy? Or do they go home and cry about insignificant details of their anatomy too? We will never know.
3. The Person Having A Really Bad Time
Under the surface, this is probably about 60% of the Carnival but most of us do a good job of hiding it by drinking too much rum or blowing on a whistle every now and again. The person having a really bad time has just stopped pretending. Standing in a plastic poncho next to a giant sound system, not even bothering to knee bop anymore, they take long swigs of vodka from their plastic bottle and plan their escape route. If one of their friends sings ‘OUT IN THE STREETS THEY CALL IT MERTHER’ in a dodgy Jamaican accent one more time they might do something drastic.
4. Really Awful But Cool Posh People
Pretty easy to spot in a crowd owing to their ungodly good looks and summer glow, these kids just got back from a month in St. Barts or Ibiza. When they’re not on holiday, they’re freelancing as under-qualified photographers or assistant producers in Daddy’s studio. They’re everything that is wrong with the world but their lives are painfully alluring – and you hate yourself for wanting to be them. Rest assured they will always be having more fun than you, doing more drugs than you and inheriting more of Zone 1 than you. They also throw the best house parties so it might be worth letting go of your morals for just one night and…clinging on.
5. Really Awful And Un-Cool Posh People
Just as rich as the former but arguably more offensive, they spend Carnival watching the mob from their white stucco balconies, sipping on cocktails from coconut shells and trying not to worry about their Audi that they had to park in Bayswater for the weekend. They won’t leave their house all weekend but by 10pm they’ll have taken enough Class A drugs to let you in if you ask nicely enough. Just remember to take your shoes off at the door.
6. Shit Shirt Boys
These boys tend to rock up at every event targeted at 18-35 year olds in London. They’re national fun sponges. Total wankers. Obnoxious drunkards that will take any opportunity to dress up in their favourite “loud shirts”, piss on the street and shout unfunny rude things in girls’ faces. They’ll act like 16 year olds but they’re probably 24 and they’ll probably still carry on being these guys until they finally fall in love and get whipped into moving to Twickenham and buying a labrador.
7. People Making Money
The crafty entrepreneurs have got everything you’re going to need at Carnival. A toilet in their basement, a Red Stripe from their trolley, a jelly shot from their basket or some jerk chicken on their doorstep. They also sell soft drugs. All you’ve got to do is give them some money and not stare too much. Simples.
Featured Image Credit: Alison Slattery Photography