Good Times at Notting Hill.

I must admit, this was my first ever carnival experience. Year on year friends have told me how amazing the day was, the atmosphere, the food, the people, and of course the music. I’ve always been jealous on hearing about the rocking sound systems they’ve stumbled across and the sets they’ve seen. It’s never been that I’ve been too busy or had other events to go to on the bank holiday Monday. No, my carnival avoidance has come from the fact that I have an inane fear of crowds. Which is really helpful when you’re a DJ and work in the event industry.

It meant I once spent an entire prodigy gig right at the back, nowhere near that audio sweet spot that as a DJ you’re always hoping to find. It meant that I once hyperventilated and freaked in Ministry when they rammed the bar to well over capacity whilst refusing to open the main room, about an hour before my set, which didn’t bode well for getting in the ‘zone’.  It’s meant that I’ve never even bothered registering for Glastonbury, for fear of being trampled by a stampede of aging hippies and cider- fuelled teenagers. There was only one thing to do and that was finally face my fear full on, no bottling out at the gate, no ‘that’s it I’m going home!’, and I did it all in the name of Sir Norman Jay MBE.

We planned our carnival route carefully so as to approach on the right side of Good Times, and neighbouring Sancho Panza, meaning I could avoid having to spend 30 minutes pushing through the busy streets, and aside from shuffling single file through the thick police lines (understand their presence is essential, but what are the chances maybe any of them could maybe smile a bit?) I felt pretty safe and un-sqaushed. Once we made it to West Row we found a spot on the pavement, with a wall behind us meaning I was pretty safe from accidental squishing from the heaving throng of revellers all gathered in front of the good times red bus. And you know what, not only did I face my fear, I danced solidly for about 5 hours, and can confidently say it was one of the best day’s I’ve had in years.

From funk and house to dub and reggae, to some seriously old school drum and bass, Good Times is music to make you grin. The sun was shining; the sound system had that perfect balance between not making your ears bleed, but still rattling your stomach when a good bit of sub was present, and the people were all really friendly. I danced, I ate chicken, I danced some more, I paid a fiver to wee (really!) I drank too much red stripe, I danced even more and I loved every second. I know there is probably a lot more to see at Carnival than just Good Times, but after seeing Normal Jay at The big Chill so many times, which is always a festival highlight, I knew that this was the event to make me want face my fears and get involved. So I take my hat off to Sir Norman, a perfect day, and brave old me. Good Times indeed.