It's going to be huge, of course. This weekend's Cuba St Carnival is set to be the biggest yet, with some unmissable acts on the Main Stage and even the Courtenay Place bars getting in on the act. The open-ended consent means that its future is secure, and you can get there by bus for only $1 (assuming that there are any drivers available). Some of us are getting very excited indeed about the weekend, and with luck even the weather might come to the party.
But how much is it really in the spirit of "carnival"? After all, the carnival tradition has a much more anarchic, subversive and almost dangerous flavour, and it should be a time when inhibitions are discarded and social hierarchies are turned on their heads. There will no doubt be some of that, but I wonder whether any political floats will make it to this year's illuminated night parade? This particular carnival has its origins in the Upper Cuba St Carnival, which was not just about having a good time but was "a community celebration with a strong spirit of resistance to the inner city 'bypass' and other attacks on the community". As some have said, "A 'non-political carnival' is no carnival at all".
There will no doubt be some uninhibited drunken revelry, though if last night's Orientation toga parties around upper Willis St are anything to go by, some people don't need a carnival as an excuse for that. There will be some lavishly skimpy outfits and quasi-nudity on the floats, but it'll be fairly tame compared to a proper carnival (warning: link contents not entirely SFW). But there's one way in which established hierarchies will indeed be overthrown: as the long list of road closures shows, King Car will be dethroned for a few hours, and the streets returned to the people as a site for community enjoyment. Make the most of this short time, enjoy the sight of Courtenay Place and Swan Lane full of people rather than cars, and perhaps wonder whether we could ever make that a permanent change.
Right, that all seemed dourly political, but I know it's going to be a hell of a weekend. I love the fact that it's become a catalyst and focal point for all sorts of other parties and events, such as the Notting Hill-inspired soundclash at Thistle Hall, Trash at Good Luck (a fundraiser for Clinton Smiley) and of course the "unofficial" after-party that will take over Edward St for some late-late mayhem. So: eat, drink, take photos, stay up late, be merry, dress up, dance like a bitch and enjoy a car-free slice of Te Aro for a few hours.