Notting Hill Carnival has become an important fixture in London’s cultural calendar, with a million people joining each year for what is among the largest street festivals anywhere in the world. Having run since 1966 on the streets of Notting Hill, Kensington and Chelsea, it is no wonder that the British West Indian community-driven event has recently become the subject of a petition calling for UNESCO World Heritage status, but with some of its former soundsystem heroes this year heading elsewhere, is the time coming for alternatives to be considered on carnival weekend? Clapham’s House of Common festival offers one reason to suggest that it already has.
A brainchild of your dad’s favourite band The Madness, House of Common will run on bank holiday Monday 29th of August, with a Notting Hill looking lineup featuring Toots and the Maytals, David Rodigan, Congo Natty’s UK All Stars and a boatload more. Perhaps most significant, though, one of Notting Hill’s closest affiliates Norman Jay MBE will be performing, having taken his Good Times party to his old home for the final time back in 2013. A host at Notting Hill for more than 30 years, Norman’s undoubtedly saved a place in his heart for the UK’s biggest street party, but last week told Below The River that “It’s a new era now”, as he prepares to join the party just down the road in 2016. Clapham Common will also offer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Craig Charles, and UKG from Ms Dynamite, as well as Mike Skinner and Murkage present: Tonga.
Billed as being a festival “For the love of the common people”, House of Common will provide a warm and wonderful reception for anyone wanting an alternative to Notting Hill this August, with good music, West Indian street vendors and a party atmosphere ensuring that the carnival spirit is full-flow in Clapham on this big-hitting bank holiday.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Photo courtesy of Norman Jay MBE