Wow & wow!
UK Soca Scene had the pleasure of joining South London’s very own Flagz on the travels to Rotterdam for the 2012 Zomercarnaval (PoisonUK also provided a package). I’ve got to be honest and admit that it was difficult get excited about this. We had heard mixed responses whenever we asked what Rotterdam was like, so we decided to go into this not expecting too much.. boy were we in for a surprise!
We all met outside of Excelsior, boarded the coach and began our journey out of the country. The togetherness could be felt from way before we had left London. The Flagz team made it very clear that they would look after all of their people and (even though we were all adults) we were their responsibility. This was proven at carnival when one of the crew had to be taken to hospital. Thank god they were okay.
So.. after a very, very lengthy journey, we arrived at the hotel. Due to delays we didn’t arrive until 5am. That didn’t seem to make much difference to the coach load of Londoners who were still in high spirits. The hotel was clean and well presented with helpful staff who didn’t get fed up with our constant demands (mainly for ice) or often loud debates held in overcrowded rooms.
Now for the main topic.. Rotterdam Zomercarnaval 2012.
Like I said before, I wasn’t sure what to expect so went into this with an open mind. The setting was perfect though; the sun was shining, we had plenty drink and the journey to the carnival route from our hotel was straight forward.
On meeting the fenced off roads it became apparent that this city was as culturally diverse as London. People from many different backgrounds lined the streets in anticipation of the days events. Passing through crowds of onlookers and revellers, you could easily be forgiven for mistaking these for the streets for London.
The atmosphere was alive. On approaching TriniConnection who had teamed up with PoisonUK, you could hear the soca music from far. You had the usual pre-chippin scenarios; last of the t-shirt collections, jammin by the truck and the reuniting of friends who have not have seen each other since the last fete or maybe last carnival.
Over the next couple of hours, the band grew and so did the lime. The excitement was building. Due to the length of the route and TriniConnection being one of the last bands, there was a delay in them getting started. However this was in no way a negative. Simply meant there was more time to warm up for what lay ahead.
We thought we should use this time to go and see what was happening with the Small Island Unity Mas Band who had teamed up with Flagz. After what must have been a good half hour walk from where we were, we finally saw the familiar costumes and orange t-shirts parading the streets leaving a trail of smiling (and some shocked) onlookers behind. The crowds wanted more and more all the time and the band members continued to put on a show. On the Flagz website they said they were going to “wuk up stink”. They certainly did. Hours went by in what felt like a short space of time as hit after hit of soca tracks ignited the streets of Rotterdam.
At the exact same time, TriniConnection/PoisonUK were back down the road causing more bacchanal. The purple posse carried the same infectious vibe that we had seen back with the other band up the road. They were winnin on ANYTING (like Buffy). No seriously.. a Policemen who tried to uphold the law got introduced to several bumpas, the front of the drinks van got a serious wine, there were even girls up on top of the van.. nothing was safe. Band members were feeding off the energy coming from within the band and also the encouragement they got from the public.
One thing that will always stick with me is how the crowd interacted. Wherever the bands went they were met with cheering from the crowds and requests for pictures with the revellers. I saw on a number of occasions members of the public jump the barriers to get involved in the mayhem. By the end of the day, the bands had grown due to the public joining in. Onlookers of all ages couldn’t help but to want to be a part of what was going on.
Even up until now, it has been a struggle to find the words to sum up the weekend.
All in all.. Rotterdam was CRAZY! Next year can’t come soon enough!
A special thank you to the Flagz team for an amazing weekend, TriniConnection Mas Band in particular Joyce & Kwame and not forgetting PoisonUK also to Soca Gyal Saira who looked out for us from early.
Bring on 2013