Not so much a launch as a long-overdue reunion. That seemed to be the general verdict on the official launch of Notting Hill Carnival 2021, on Monday 26 July.
Naturally, the venue was The Tabernacle, Powis Square. In the unlikely event that anyone was unsure where to go, five faintly sinister moko jumbies were stalking about outside before contorting themselves to get under the archway into the Tab’s courtyard. Brazilian bateria Tribo and Mangrove Steelband provided the music, masqueraders gave the photographers something to focus on, calypso queen Helena B served up doubles and the girls from Duppy Share dispensed welcome liquid refreshment. More delicious snacks did the rounds, so guests had no cause to complain.
— ADVERTISEMENT —
For many of us this was a first chance to meet in three dimensions friends we’d seen only on screen (if at all) over the past two years, so there wasn’t an excess of social distancing – except for the moko jumbies, obviously. A last-day-of-term, let-out-of-school feeling was in the air, and it was a joy to be able to dream that some semblance of our former lives might be returning, albeit cautiously.
Our recent experiences can be summed up in that old fete favourite, “One step forward, two steps backward and tremble”!
— ADVERTISEMENT —
After an introductory splash of calypso from Alexander D Great, the formalities were brief, starting with a reminder, by Notting Hill Carnival Ltd CEO Matthew Phillip, of the debt we owe the pioneers. It’s a debt that isn’t much recognised outside the carnival community, though. Two million visitors come to Notting Hill on the August Bank Holiday weekend, generating £150 million for the local and national economy, yet carnival’s creators receive very little in return, he pointed out.
Matthew was greeted with a big cheer when he said: “We will be on the streets again in 2022.” However, funding is under pressure like never before, so NHCL has created a Carnival Recovery Fund. Amongst the money-raising efforts, Ishmahil Blagrove’s superb account of Notting Hill Carnival has been reprinted and licensed to NHCL, so that profits from sales of the book go straight into the Recovery Fund. He concluded by listing some of the events coming up, and details of these can be found elsewhere on socanews.com.