The Small Island Unity troupe at the 2013 Rotterdam Summer Carnival. This year, SIU was absent for reasons beyond its control, but the group is preparing for London’s Notting Hill Carnival next month.
ROTTERDAM–Saturday’s Rotterdam Summer Carnival should have been a record- breaking event for Small Island Unity (SIU). However, the troupe, consisting for a large part of Windward Islanders, had pulled out for reasons beyond their control. SIU will now participate with a smaller group at London’s Notting Hill Carnival late August, and is planning to come to St. Maarten’s Carnival next year.
In April this year, the SIU Committee, headed by Kyle “The One Man Asylum DJ Spy” Brown, decided, with much pain in their hearts and in utter shock, informed the participants that the ever-growing and highly popular group would not be in the 2017 Rotterdam Carnival.
The reason was that SIU could not agree with a “last-minute altered version” of the regular contract of Rotterdam Unlimited, which organises the annual Carnival. According to SIU, the altered version clearly stated that all rights of images, videos and artworks of all Carnival revellers would be given to a local film production company.
SIU protested, stating that it would not have control of what footage was shot and released, which would also be used for commercial gain. Placing the interests of its participants first, the SIU Committee decided to pull out of the 2017 Rotterdam Summer Carnival, as its views and those of the organisers did not align.
The costumes created under the theme “Colours of the Wind” will now be worn in the 2018 Rotterdam parade. The granting of all rights of images to an outside film production company was a one-time action, which in the end did not materialise for unclear reasons.
“Our presence was missed on the road this year,” Brown told The Daily Herald on Sunday, one day after the Rotterdam parade. With a minimum of 300 participants, the SIU troupe would have been the biggest of the 2017 summer Carnival parade. Not only St. Maarteners had signed up for this year’s SIU troupe, but also participants from other countries including Germany, the United Kingdom (UK), France and Switzerland.
Needless to say that a lot of effort goes into the preparation of participating in Carnival, especially for a group like SIU which designs and creates its own costumes. “It is a lot of work and stress, but in the end the reward is great; you feel great,” said Brown. “What has happened is borderline disheartening, but we will be back next year, even bigger and better.”
A group of about 55 SIU revellers will be travelling to London at the end of next month to participate in the Notting Hill Carnival as part of two UK groups. The Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street festival with sixty groups, 38 sound systems and countless dancers. It features a Jouvert morning and Sunday parade on August 27 and the Grand Parade on August 28.
The Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of Caribbean communities, their cultures and traditions, which has been taking place since 1964. It features many music forms, including Soca, calypso, salsa, reggae and dub with many Soca floats, steel bands and DJs. “We are looking to have our own, bigger troupe next year,” said Brown.
Seeing that there is great interest of its revellers, SIU is planning to participate in the 2017 St. Maarten Carnival. One thing is for sure: SIU was not put off by this year’s absence from the Rotterdam Summer Carnival, an event that on a yearly basis draws some 750,000 spectators to the city.
Bearing in mind the all too familiar saying “The Show must go on,” SIU will continue its mission to unify cultures of all walks of life, whilst placing the Dutch Caribbean islands up front. “We will keep getting bigger and better,” said Brown. This year would have been SIU’s sixth time at the Rotterdam Carnival.
SIU did host a Summer Carnival pre-party in Rotterdam on Friday July 28, the day before the 2017 parade. The Pure Soca International show featured several live performances and five DJs. Unfortunately, King Vers from St. Maarten did not show up, much to the dismay of the many guests who did enjoy the rest of the programme.