Raves and Waves

Human beings are weird. I know I’m supposed to say that we’re ‘complex’ and ‘beautiful’ etc etc and we are, we really are, but I just spent my 7th annual weekend at Lovebox festival and on reflection, that was a lot of human beings in one place being pretty weird. Myself included.

Homo Sapiens evolved from apes, or at least we shared an ancestor 6 million years back, or some genetic similarities to a chimp, or something (while reading this please bare in mind I was at Lovebox. And today is Wednesday. WEDNESDAY) and although we can be solitary creatures there is definitely a pack mentality within the human species akin to that of the animal kingdom.

This thought crosses my mind from time to time but usually when I’m out raving and especially when I’m raving at a festival.

On the Friday afternoon, I stopped for a minute and watched as hundreds of people threw their bodies about to beats and rhythms all in their own individual way, but as part of a heaving dirty mass, some as part of a pack, and I thought to myself – this is proper weird.

Then Skepta came on and my focus went entirely from my head in to my body. I had a skanking tantrum. For 2 minutes and 33 seconds, it was an absolute SHUTDOWN.

I love to dance.

Not with the same obsessive commitment of a ballerina or member of Diversity, I mean, who’s got the time? But as the most freeing expression of my body. I fucking love having a skank. Especially with my mates.

Here’s some animals that also love a skank.

And here’s some that like to get on it too.

I digress.

Having re-grouped after a toilet/bar break, my pack moved with instinctual purpose through the herd of shufflers emptying canisters of Nitrous oxide in to their lungs and joined other packs similarly migrating from the Big Top tent to the main stage to watch the headline act. Here the dusty planes of Vicky Park became a landscape of ravers, euphoric in unison, as Rudimental rampaged on stage and taught us that Love ain’t just a word and that as a generation we truly had ‘had enough’.

Those words carried a heavier weight the following day.

Saturday was a struggle. The dust was thicker. The air aggressive. The queues were a fucking joke and Snoop played his ‘house’ tunes (he also played I Love Rock n Roll. Why the fuck did Snoop play I Love Rock n Roll? Unless… did he play it?).

The whole day felt like chasing for something you’re never quite sure you caught in the end.

As well as chasing the friends all day who’s messages you get on the following Monday – “Right of the sound stage in the spot for Annie where are you?!!!”

I was right there too ffs. Balloon deflation.

We arrive back home with the realisation that the night is going to be so much longer than wanted sinking in. My tired body slumped on the sofa. My voice dry and raspy. My mind going a hundred miles per hour. It’s 11.30pm. I blow my nose. The tissue is black with dust. If I’d had any moisture left in my body. I would have cried.

We talk about everything and nothing while flicking through the music channels. My best mate decides she has to play cards. There are no cards in the house. She spends the best part of the following hour making a complete set out of primary coloured card. It was both torturous and mesmerising to watch. Almost as torturous as the repeatative ‘we should do the washing up’ conversation post Born n Bred festival. Which also took place during a game of cards.

(After extensive discussion. We did the washing up).

I force myself to eat a ham and pineapple pizza, that despite taking what I was certain at the time was over an hour in the oven is somehow well underdone. I hope in vain that ingesting carbohydrate will somehow reverse the inevitability of the ever looming Sunday ahead.

At approx 2am, after an extended game of black jack I retire to the bedroom by myself and listen to Justin Bieber on my phone. At this moment in my life, I honestly feel that Justin Bieber is the appropriate choice of music. I listen to four of his songs on repeat. It’s a jarring loop but I don’t feel I have the power to do anything about the situation once I’m in it. At about 3am my friend’s sister comes in.

“Anna, it’s time to stop listening to Justin Bieber”.

Yes, yes it is. I rejoin the living room.

My best mate is lying on the floor with her arms outstretched.

“I promise you, the length from the end of one arm to the other is the exact measurement of your body from head to toe”

It actually is.

At what time my dusty head hit the pillow for sleep I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that it was light outside, and that we had watched a documentary on Banksy in New York. The only thing I can tell you about it is that one of the Americans kept pronouncing it ‘Banksky’. More jarring than Bieber.


The following day we lay broken on sofas and under bedding watching Nev and Max uncover a Catfish of a three year relationship that turns out to be the girl’s best friend’s baby daddy. Rah.

Human beings.

Complex? Yes.

Beautiful? Not always.

Weird? For sure.

Notting Hill Carnival? Nah.

Raves and Waves, Tupac Shakur

Today is the first time in about 11 years that I haven’t donned a whistle and hauled my arse on the East London Line (Silverlink. If you know you know) to the streets of West London for Carnival. Now, I love to rinse at Rinse, then duty wine my way from Goodtimes, passed 4Play and down to NTS as much as the next twenty-something bound for that inevitable piss squat in Horniman Pleasance but, oh wait, I’m 30. Yeah. I’m not in it anymore.

I’m ashamed to admit that since my first time at Carnival, when I was about 14 and tagged along with my brother and his mates, it has become a lot less about the cultural unity and good vibes for me and more about getting absolutely off my face and searching out a sound system playing Garage for the whole day. I haven’t even seen the parade since 1999.

Like I said, shameful.

Last year I made the mistake of rockin up solo at about 4.30pm on the Sunday, stone sober and so hungry I could have happily feasted on the mounds of chicken scraps in the gutter. I probably would have, if I’d been half as wavey as I should have been to cope with the heaving mass of sweaty, aggie, twisted up party people I was now shoulder to shoulder with.

I bought myself a can of Red Stripe from a guy with only three visible teeth. £4. Fuming. Queued for a good 35 minutes at Soul Kitchen for Jerk Chicken and Rice. No fried dumpling left. Livid. Then perched on the edge of a curb to eat whilst desperately trying to contact my mate Amy, who, having moved to Kensal Rise that year had started the party off right at about 11am and was now in it, deep in it. We eventually did get hold of each other on the phone but by this time she was being penned in by the high-vise army and I was being penned out. Good times.

I left Amy assuming I would probably never find her again, ever, and wandered down towards NTS through the hoards in the hope that I would be able to locate my mate Jessi from her text instructions.


Miraculously, I found her. She was also deep in it. That one can balanced against the meal had put me no where near the level I needed to be on to catch up, but at least Jessi had rum punch to share. We made a B-line for Horniman, and, the inevitable piss squat. Then linked up with a couple other characters, birthday boy and florist Augustus Bloom and my good pal and actress Chiara Wilde. We sat on the grass, drank, smoked, and generally dicked about for an hour or so to the intermittent rhythm of balloon canisters being emptied. At about 7pm things were winding down to a messy holt so we headed back to Kensal Rise, stopping at St Johns cook out for more food. Gus got absolutely mugged for some tasteless Jollof. He blamed me.

Crammed on a carriage of horn blowers all heading back East I suddenly realised, I was now in it. The rest of the night is a hazy mash up of embarrassingly overtly-sexual grinding to Ginuwine Pony at Alibi (a total fucking anthem for me, reasons to be revealed in a later post) and a Tequila fuelled teary argument with a pointless ex that ended, as inevitably as the Horniman piss squat, wet and in public when it should’ve been behind closed doors. Or better yet. Not at all.

I woke up the next morning and put my head directly down the toilet until about 3pm.

I swore I had gone to my last Carnival.

At least this year I hadn’t lost my big toe nail as I did in 2009 and 2011.

Don’t get me wrong. I have had some wicked times there over the years, and even though my tolerance for, well, most things has got considerably lower since turning 30 I literally tore Glastonbury apart this year, so I do still like a party.

See. Here I am at Arcadia. Quite simply. Loving life.


(Photo by Amy. Yeah, we found each other again)

Anyway, I’m still in my pyjamas, having spent the entire day watching Tupac films and YouTube interviews around the conspiracy theories of his death. By the way, Pac, if you’re chillin in Cuba, holla atcha girl.

When I told someone a few days ago I was gonna give Carnival a miss this year they said “Really? Are you crazy?”

Well you know what

There’s still tomorrow tho…