The Bermondsey Carnival 2013; Dancing the Park

  • Open air concerts in London

    In 1969 The Rolling Stones played a free gig in Hyde Park.   In 2013 when they announced the Hyde Park gigs with ticket prices of £95+  I knew I wouldn’t be going. But I wouldn’t be stuck at home feeling left out that day either.  John Coghlan’s Quo were playing for free at the Bermondsey Carnival; the spirit of the 60s was alive and well in South London.  (for those that don’t know John was the original drummer with my favourite boogie band Status Quo.)  All the links this week are to music clips of the bands that I saw play.

    Bermondsey Carnival in Southwark Park SE16

    I arrived around 3.30pm and discovered that the Carnival was what I would called a summer féte.  There were bric-brac and produce stalls, amusement rides and numerous inflatables to jump on but no parade.  The highlight of the event was a concert programme of live rock and pop music at the bandstand.  The Carnival area of the park was busy but not unpleasantly over crowded and I headed straight for the sweet harmonies wafting my way from the bandstand.

    The Mint Juleps

    The Mint Juleps had just started their set.  A small crowd had gathered to hear their beautiful groovy a’cappella sound but most of them were stood with their mobile phones held aloft.  It was a shame as they were very good.  Maybe it was too hot to dance.


    During the set change, I wandered off to see what else was happening.  Again the sound of music caught my ear and I wandered over to the tent where it was coming from.  This was a space for young people’s dance and music groups to show off their talents.


    In this photo the dancers are waiting for their cue.  To glimpse their routine you have to check out the gallery below.  I couldn’t see much because the huge crowd of friends and family blocked my view so I wandered back to the bandstand.

    Rough Science – the band

    The next band, Rough Science were an excellent ska/reggae rock band.  Their vibrant sound blasted me back to 1980s and hanging out in Brockwell Park for Rock against Racism or Jamaican Independence Day.  Rough Science had that South London vibe too and the crowd started to really dance.  And I danced and snapped at the same time; not an easy thing to do.

    Bruce Springsteen – my inspiration

    It was hearing The Boss (Bruce Springsteen) and Dancing in the Dark blasting out over the PA system during the set break, that inspired my theme for this week’s post.  This woman below and the one in the featured image in particular caught my eye.


    John Coghlan’s Quo

    There was quite a long wait before John’s band came on and the crowd started to grow.  I spotted a t-shirt from the Status Quo reunion tour in March 2013.  Their set was early Quo from the 60s like In My Chair and Paper Plane plus the 70s hits like Roll Over Lay Down and Caroline.  They were good but as I’ve never seen anyone but Quo play Quo it was odd for me.  Not bad just not quite right. The audience came alive though and really rocked like like these guys.


    The photography lesson

    A note for the photographer readers: I learned a lot from this session.  Having a theme really helped and inspired me.  I use a digital compact at the moment and although it has a zoom I rarely use it.  And I use the viewfinder rather than the LCD screen which off sets the final image.  So I really honed the art of cropping with this set.  It can make or break a picture.  This was my first crop of the cover image.

    Alternative crop of cover shot

    Alternative crop of cover shot

    The girl with the drink was my main focus but she was dancing in relation to her friend on the far right and that is why I kept her in.  Losing the friend and giving the main dancer more space brought her alive.  And I love how the semi-circle of shadows on the ground are emphasised by the second crop too.

    I’ll leave you with a gallery which captures the dancing and mood of the sets on the bandstand.  As always, “its better in gallery mode. So click on any photo to switch.”

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