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Casa Bacardi at Notting Hill: where to go, what to expect

READY FOR THE ROAD: Flagz Mas Band at Notting Hill Carnival (Image: Bacardi)

CASA BACARDI will come to Notting Hill Carnival for the very first time this Bank Holiday weekend, as part of the rum brand’s Europe-wide music campaign ‘Do What Moves You’. Located at the legendary Powis Square Stage on Monday 27th August, Casa Bacardi will play host to line up of incredible acts, all specially selected to represent the “sound of rum”. Among them will be Flagz Mas Band. Here, band member and costume designer Sonya Dyer tells us what people can expect from the group’s appearance, the connection between Africa and some of this year’s designs and the drink that proves very popular on the road.

Q: How long have you been with Flagz Mas Band?
A: I’ve been a member for about six years and this year was the first time I’ve done costumes for them.

Q: What do you love about Notting Hill Carnival?
A: I’m a local to the area. I’m actually originally from south London but Notting Hill Carnival is something that I’ve grown up going to and it’s been a great thing to see how it’s evolved and changed.

Q: What is it about carnival that you’re looking forward to most?
A: I’ve made a few individual costumes this year so I’m really, really excited to see those. I’ve been working on them for quite a few weeks...they’re really big and quite flamboyant.

Q: Tell me about the inspiration behind the costumes you’ve designed?
A: Our theme this year is Afrolantis so I was looking at an exhibition that the British Museum did a few years ago of these statues that were found just outside of [West] Africa. They were found just outside, in the sea. They’re so beautiful, these absolutely stunning sculptures, but no one believed they were from Africa because they were so sophisticated.

I love this whole idea of exploring African mythology and showing these different elements that people disregard and see as primitive but making it something that is beautiful to the eye which it is anyway. I just wanted to celebrate the things that we don’t see with Africa.

Q: How did this inspiration manifest in the costumes?
A: I looked at West African symbols of things relating to the sea, so of fishes and things and then incorporated those silhouettes and those shapes into the placement of stones. We’ve got a section – Mami Water, which is a water deity. I just love this idea of this woman who was drawing men in and hypnotising them so I chose a very spherical print to almost bring you in, and all these adornments which catch the eye naturally and make it very’s a very sexual thing that’s celebrated there.

A post shared by Flagz (@flagzmasband) on

We’ve got another section – Mujaji, based on a South African rain queen. She’s an actual person. What I loved about this tribe is it’s run by a woman. I also wanted to keep elements which were quite personal to me as well. My background is Caribbean [Jamaican] but I wanted that connection to what I saw was Africa in this iconic way when I was growing up with the red, yellow and green – so I used that somewhat. Being a person Caribbean heritage in the UK, especially [being] born here, there’s this whole identity issue and we have our small things we grab on to to keep us connected to the motherland and for me that was always colour. I’ve always grown up with these posters in my house and these red, yellow and green flags so I really wanted that to be a massive part of that section.

Q: What can people who head to the Casa Bacardi stage expect from Flagz Mas Band’s appearance?
A: We’re known for being a very inclusive band, hence our name Flagz. We’re known for our soca music so they can expect a lot of waistlines rolling, definitely a lot of fiery soca songs – we’ve got our amazing djs on that stage.

Q: How did the band come to team up with Bacardi?
A: We were actually featured in Bacardi’s Sounds of Rum last year. They came along on the road with us and got footage of us performing, our costumes and our dance moves and everything; and we loved how that was portrayed, how they were celebrating the heritage of carnival. For us, soca, the Caribbean, the music, the dancing, that is very, very integral to who we are, just came together naturally.

Q: And the rum...?
A: [Laughs] Of course, of course, our secret rum punch. Rum punch is a very popular drink for us over carnival and with Bacardi of course, it’s a no brainer.

Bacardi has collaborated with the local community on the programming and the complete line up for the stage will be revealed on the day. Music will run from 12pm to 7pm. In keeping with Carnival tradition, the event will not be ticketed and entry will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Alongside the entertainment, there will be street food stalls and bars serving Bacardi rum drinks.

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