SUPPORTED BY HENNESSY

The Great Notting Hill Carnival Returned In Style 💫

Photography: Elliot Huntley

Last weekend, Notting Hill Carnival made its long-awaited return to the streets of West London after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. It was desperately needed. The many epic soundsystems, the traditional Mas Bands and colourful outfits—it was an unforgettable weekend in the sunny capital, one which shone a light on the beauty and influence of Caribbean culture on this country.

TRENCH headed down on Sunday to witness the Mas Bands electrify West LDN with traditional soca anthems—new ones, too—with bright and elegant costumes on full display. Salutes to some of the early NHC carnivals were seen via the likes of Nostalgia Steelband, with their calypso anthems breaking through the sounds of other bands to dancing onlookers. Deep bass echoed through the convoy as a large crowd grew around the legendary Aba-Shanti-I’s sound; London streetwear brand Benjart connected with S.V Sound, which celebrated some of the best dancehall- and influenced sounds from the West Indies; and one of the many highlights was DJ YeahItsRenee’s set at GT Flex’s soundsystem, where she spotlighted the Caribbean’s influence on popular music today, with cuts like JD Reid’s dancehall edit of Burna Boy’s “Last Last”—“Last 85”—shutting it down.

Carnival-lovers also got to enjoy the first ever Amapiano stage, which drew crowds in large numbers. Celebrating 32 years at Carnival this year, the iconic Rough But Sweet soundsystem joined creative forces with Hennessy—everyone’s favourite cognac brand that has championed new music for decades—to present a space curated by the internationally renowned Piano People. The stage brought together a line-up of Amapiano pioneers from South Africa, including guest performers Costa Titch and DJs Vigro Deep and DBN Gogo, as well as showcasing emerging talent from the UK in the likes of Kilimanjaro. DJs, producers and viral dance trends have propelled the new dance music movement from the townships of South Africa to clubs across the globe, and its debut at NHC via Hennessy x Rough But Sweet x Piano People was an unforgettable moment.

With the growing forces against Carnival, it’s as important as ever to pay respect to the importance of the two-day cultural event and also celebrate the history and contributions of Caribbean people and culture to the UK and beyond. Between our walks to different sounds on Sunday, we stopped a few Carnival-goers to ask them a few important questions about why they came to the event and what songs they listened to before making their trip, which you can check out below.

Name: Abbas

Location: Camberwell, South East London

Why do you love Notting Hill Carnival? It brings so many different people together and the energy is great. It’s rare in London that you get everyone in one spot, especially when the weather is good. It’s at the end of the summer, so this closes it off nicely. It’s not like London isn’t anything without NHC, but without it, it’s lacking a massive chunk of culture and heritage. Carnival merges Afro-Caribbean cultures together, celebrating so many different elements of that, and invites others who are open to participating. London is losing a lot of its character as it is, especially with the widespread gentrification, so please do not get rid of Carnival! It’s helping us hold on to parts of the city that we really need.

How did you decide on your outfit today? I went with the white Nike Air Force 1s; they’re already battered, so I thought ‘I don’t mind getting them a bit dirty today.’ It’s going to be impossible to keep any trainers clean today. Got some Corteiz, light blue trackies on. I’ve got a nice custom T-shirt in my bag, that my girlfriend made me—she’s an artist—but I’m trying to keep it clean. Keep it simple. I’d advise people for next year to use colour to stand out a bit. For me, it’s comfort over everything.

What track were you listening to before coming out today? Any of Vybz Kartel’s early catalogue is an anthem for me.

"London is losing a lot of its character as it is, especially with the widespread gentrification, so please do not get rid of Carnival!"

Name: Kione

Location: West London

Why do you love Notting Hill Carnival? I guess I feel like it’s almost the reason why I stay in London. It’s the epitome of what London means, how multicultural London is and its history. I’m Caribbean, so it represents—for me—the history of Caribbeans living in London and what they’ve been through. We can’t forget that part of it. This area is so important to what actually happened in that journey. I’ve heard the rumours that Carnival might not be here for much longer; I don’t know what’s really going on, but we can’t forget why Carnival exists in the first place. It represents multiculturalism, Caribbean people in this area, why Caribbean people are in this country and all the way up to now with the Windrush Scandal.

What’s the energy behind your outfit? I go to Jamaica a lot, so I picked up this fake Jamaican football kick in a market in Port Antonio. I originally bought it for my nephew, I tried it on, and it fitted me perfectly so I kept it. It’s like 10 years old now. As for my trainers—green and yellow, you can’t go wrong with the Jamaican colours. I wear them all the time; they’re kind of fucked up because I’ve had them for quite some time. But they’re great for comfort and I don’t care if they get a little dirty.

What track were you listening to before coming out today? “Junction” by Popcaan.

"We can't forget why Carnival exists in the first place. It represents multiculturalism, Caribbean people in this area, why Caribbean people are in this country and all the way up to now with the Windrush Scandal."

Name: Elijah

Location: Finsbury Park, West London

Why do you love Notting Hill Carnival? It’s Black culture, it’s Black London. I feel like it’s a great way for people to express themselves, their heritage and celebrate where they come from.

What does Notting Hill Carnival mean to you in 3 words? Food, fun and floats.

What’s the energy behind your outfit? I can’t lie: I’m coming again tomorrow (Monday) so this is a secondary outfit. Notting Hill Carnival is a lot of walking so I thought, ‘What is the most comfortable footwear?’ It has to be the Crocks. *Points to Jamaican flag* I’m Nigerian but, today, we’re Jamaican [laughs].

What anthem are you excited to hear out today on one of the soundsystems? Dexta Daps’ “Shabba Madda Pot”.

"I feel like it's a great way for people to express themselves, their heritage and celebrate where they come from."


Posted on August 31, 2022