It’s hard to believe but this year we will finally be able to enjoy carnival again. Notting Hill Carnival in London is coming up and I am more than excited to participate. I guess after such a long time it will somehow feel like my first carnival back in 2014. My first carnival experience was Berlin Carnival and it was simply amazing, causing a never-ending craving for Soca music and carnival. It’s a love-at-first-sight story.
In 2014, I was invited to come along to Berlin carnival by my dear friend Teresa who has been a fond Carnival lover for many years now. Although I have been listening to Reggae and Dancehall since I am a teenager, I didn’t know much about Soca or carnivals at that point of time.
After a long 8 hour bus drive we attended the first party on Thursday. I remember loving the whole scene from the first moment, as I realized how many people from all over were coming to Berlin to celebrate together. Another thing I noticed pretty soon is the high levels of energy present at Soca parties. Until today I get goose bumps from these intense vibes of joy, unity and zest for life. From the first minute of my first Soca party I loved to watch how people were freely expressing their happiness through dancing, singing and enjoying themselves to the max. That was something I had never seen before to that extent and in that way until then.
In the course of the following days one party followed the next and while I love to attend so many fetes I got more and more exhausted. Surprisingly on the contrary, other people seemed to get more and more energized. They were jumping and dancing around without a break while sleeping little and drinking a lot. Until today I have absolutely no clue how some people are able to do that without dropping dead.
Destination Happy Soca Planet
Soon I understood that to a big extent it’s Soca (and definitely also the alcohol) causing the high levels of energy. These strong, catchy and fast riddims combined with the motivating lyrics inject immense doses of energy and get you moving, regardless if you want or not (also regardless of how much sleep you actually lack). Sometimes the music even seems to have a mesmerising effect, altering people’s states of mind and transferring them to some kind of happy Soca planet, where they experience states of ecstasy through movement and the powerful bass penetrating their whole body. Just one of the reasons why people love their Soca parties (and why I love Soca parties).
While I love Soca and wining to its riddims, I have to admit that it does get too fast and too wild for me sometimes. When it gets too crazy, I pull back and watch from the edges. And yes, it does get pretty crazy at Soca parties. Although I had already experienced some craziness at Jamaican parties Soca people just showed me another level of craziness (no offense though, I always enjoy watching how people let go and just do whatever they feel like without caring about what others think). So when I attended my first Soca on the Beach in 2014, I was amused by people doing all kinds of things in the sand: forward rolls all over the place, climbing on top of each other building human towers, wining down to the ground while jumping on each other, etc. Again, I can’t deny that alcohol probably does play some role in that. But also Soca with its instructions (“pick up something, anything”) could partly be blamed as those are taken very seriously by many.
That was part one of my first carnival experience. In part two I am talking about Rolly Pollies owning the stage, the feeling of freedom carnival gives me and the beginner’s mistakes I made at my first carnival.