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Dos and Don’ts of Notting Hill Carnival

The time of the year has come again when we forget our morals, dress up as tropical birds and dance to soca songs we don’t know the meaning of. That’s right Notting Hill Carnival is in two days and I still don’t have anything to wear!

Over a million people attend the carnival each year and even though it’s one of those things everyone should do before they die, a lot of you still haven’t been yet. So Pappzd is here to help you by telling you some Dos and Don’ts of Notting Hill Carnival. Take notes!


Wear Napies

There are 270 toilets dotted around the place during Notting Hill Carnival and hundreds of thousands of attendees. Mixed with alcohol, that makes for a hell of a queue outside the portable toilets. As you can imagine they are absolutely grim and the thought of using one makes me want to have my bladder removed.

Solution: wear diapers. Not only will they make your bum look bigger, but you wont have to stand in the queue to use a filthy toilet or pay the extortionate prices some residents charge to use their ‘luxury loos’. Plus there will be plenty of drunk people urinating all over themselves, so you won’t be the only one walking around with a wet arse.

Take Some Condoms


You see that picture above? That man is the CEO of a children’s charity and that women is a nursery school teacher. But during Carnival they lose all sense of self, throw themselves to the ground and proceed in an activity called daggering (basically dry humping to bashment). Carnivals are known for being sexual places no matter what country they are in and there’s a 60% chance you will meet someone you find sexually attractive, follow him down a side road and give birth to a child nine months later.

Last year HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, distributed free condoms, to carnival revelers. And just in case they aren’t doing the same this year, we suggest you fill your pockets up with some rubbers.

Go on Sunday


If you’re a beginner, you may want to ease yourself into carnival slowly by going on what many refer to as ‘Children’s day’. Children’s day occurs on the Sunday, while Adult’s day (on Monday) is for those who prefer a more scandalous affair. But before you get ideas in your head of children running up and down the street with their faces painted as lions, bouncy castles everywhere and clowns, it’s not just that. There are still half naked people, youths in hoodies and people getting drunk. However Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday is recommended for families as the smaller crowds and kid-friendly floats create a more relaxed vibe.

Though if you don’t like Sunday you’ll know that Monday is definitely not for you.

Take a Picture With a Dancing Policeman


Did you know that Notting Hill Carnival is the only time of the year when policemen are able to grab a woman by the waist and dance with her? It’s a classic carnival cliche but the police wouldn’t be doing their job properly if they didn’t allow someone to take photos of them grinding with a woman in costume.

So make sure you grab the opportunity (and the policeman) with both hands. It looks good in the papers, shows community integration and your kids will be well proud of you.


Wear Heels


It’s not a club ladies. The Carnival route is 3 miles long. That’s like Peckham to Brixton and you’ll probably be stopping every five minutes to flirt with all the handsome topless guys with dreadlocks. So leave the Louboutins at home because trust me, no one will be looking at your shoes. Also you’ll probably need to do some running at the carnival. Whether it’s from the police, or some guys who will stop at nothing to get your number.

Step on Anyone’s Trainers

Keep your feet to yourself, tiptoe if you have to. Just don’t step on anyone’s new trainers. Especially if you didn’t follow my earlier advice and you’re wearing heels. A fight is likely to break out, you’ll lose your phone in all the commotion, the police will be called, you’ll get arrested and your whole Carnival experience will be ruined.

Go on Rampage

Rampage is probably the most famous sound system at Notting Hill Carnival and one you may want to avoid if you’re not a fan of crowds filled with young men prone to violence and daggering. In 2011 Ramapge pulled out of the Carnival citing the reason as a busy summer schedule. But we all know that the threat of a follow up to the riots, that scarred the city earlier on in the year, had something to do with it.

Though if you really want to experience Carnival’s front line, make sure you stay close to one of the hundreds of policemen who will be dotted in and around the crowd. The tradition of someone starting trouble at Rampage has led to heavy police presence. Because it wouldn’t be Rampage if someone didn’t get punched in the face for dancing with the wrong guy’s girlfriend.

You can walk past, take pictures and pretend you were there, but if you don’t want to risk your life, I suggest you leave Rampage for the pros.

Spend Too Much Time Watching the Parade

Unless you’re working for a newspaper, pregnant or just boring, we suggest you spend the least amount of time you can watching the parade. You don’t really need to spend more than 30 minutes starring at overweight women in g-strings. And steel drums are so 2001.

Head to the side streets, that’s where the REAL Carnival is. The parade is for families, tourists and those people who like to show off their expensive cameras then sob in a corner when it disappears from the huge rucksack they brought with them.

Try and Stay Out All Night
Carnival does end. It’s not a 24 hour party. In fact it ends so early I’ve missed it on three occasions. According to the official Notting Hill Carnival website, events end at 9pm on both days and sound systems at 7pm. But we aren’t going to let a silly website tell us when to end the night right?

Wrong. Because the police are pretty intent on going back to their quiet suburbs and have previously ordered early curfews, forcefully clearing the streets of anyone still enjoying Carnival by 7pm. Luckily some of the more friendly West London residents open up their doors. And if you know them or you’re attractive enough, they may let you in to enjoy one of the many house parties that take place after the Carnival on back streets, away from the main parade route. Local pubs also hold events to take in the Carnival revelers that refuse to go home, but make sure you get a ticket first.

And there you have it. I hope my tips are useful, I’ve been using them for the past ten years and have never been arrested. Let us know how it goes for you and enjoy London’s biggest carnival.

Source: Belle for Pappzd

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