Nottinghill Carnival: The UCOM Experience

Carnival is a large part of Caribbean culture. It’s an important reminder of the struggles of ancestors and a celebration and reclamation of the body and personal freedom. The importance of Carnival is not lost on those of Caribbean descent who live outside of the region. Case in point, Europe’s largest Carnival is Nottinghill in London and the people traffic is more than Antigua’s Carnival will ever see.

I had the privilege of being on the road with the UK’s premium Mas band. United Colours of Mas UCOM is an amalgamation of talented designers, sensational sound systems, and like minded Mas Troupes to pull off an experience like none other for their patrons. UCOM, Socaholic and Hypemas the trio who put together the most amazing Nottinghill experience try as much as possible not to get lost in the madness.

Every year, Nottinghill Carnival gets bigger and changes seep in. What started off as an activist move has turned into a gigantic party. Lots of side motives are happening away from the main parade and it’s easy to get lost. That’s why I appreciated UCOM. It felt like home. The atmosphere in the band was just like any other Caribbean troupe. Instead of giving in to the pressure to play chart hits, UCOM stayed true to the culture and blasted Soca music from every speaker. During Jouvert they incorporated bits from every island. They had paint, they had Jab, truly a representation of Caribbean culture in an environment that represented everything but. Instead of becoming a spectacle, UCOM was a performance of cultural proportions.

Every single costume both frontline and backline had intricate detailing and gem work. No section felt inferior to the other. Even the Extravagant VIP and Individual costumes blended in with their sections while still standing out with individuality. UCOM had the best costumes on the road and overall an amazing experience (Portable Bathrooms and VIP Food service).

I’d gladly go back in time to relive Nottinghill Carnival with UCOM it truly was an amazing experience. I can actually go on typing, but i’ll gladly let the photos speak for themselves.

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The Full Gallery of Images Can Be Found Here. A special thank you to United Colours of Mas, Hypemas and my contact Nadia Valeri of Socaholic for having me on the road to document the experience. Snaps and videos from the day can be found on my Instagram profile in Highlights.