Summer’s End: The Mayor’s Thames Festival 2011 with Ghostpoet and Afrikan Boy

Posted on 14 September 2011
By Emily Morgan
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The realisation that summer is over is a depressing thought for even the most buoyant of festival goers, so what better way to mark the passing of our favourite season than to enjoy a massive shin-dig on the banks of the Thames and jive away the blues?

And there is no better man for the job than the faithful dude Boris Johnson to coordinate this kind of Mad Hatter’s celebration, and he brought good tidings and joy to all of his constituents.

There was dancing in the streets, feasting on bridges, racing on the river and all matter of frivolity at the water’s edge; and best of all, it was free! Nice one Boris.

The two day festival consisted of market stalls, boat racing, exhibitions, theatre, street performers and live music!

The programme given out was a bible of fun packed activities, although the map wasn’t very clear, splitting the waterfront into coloured zones. We suspect Boris might have been playing some practical joke with his crayolas.

The Barclay Card stage was going off all day, as a roster of up-and-coming artists demonstrated their considerable talents en masse.

These included Mercury Prize nominated Ghostpoet, Amy Winehouse’s goddaughter Dionne Bromfield, Afrikan Boy (who is a protégé of M.I.A) and the ultimate Afro party disco machine A.J Holmes and The Hackney Empire, plus many more.

All along the Thames was a sea of people filtering off into small alcoves that opened up into bars and parks, packed with a warm and captivating atmosphere. Midday afternoon on the Sunday, the Southbank was bursting with tourists as the sun cracked through the clouds and made way for the Jive Romeros at the Lady Luck Jive Stage.

A group so bombastic, so enthusiastic that nobody cared if it was a little cheesy and the trumpet player looked like he was going to explode, everyone grabbed a partner and rumbled.

Through no prompting from the performers, festival goers marked out the parameters of a dance floor where couples jived like from a scene in Happy Days.

As the evening progressed, so did the storm clouds and the rain bulldozed the lot of us into the village of shops and food stalls sheltered under the trees.

There was an eatery to meet every taste bud, the jerk chicken was spicier than that at Notting Hill Carnival and there were cupcakes that competed with the mighty Hummingbird Bakery.

Further down the Thames, just past Blackfriars Bridge the Night Carnival was just about to begin, half naked characters, stood shivering on their floats with only a can of larger to keep them warm.

The shrill of horns and whistles boomed through the streets as the parade began to march proudly and chaotically, looking like an Elton John party on wheels.

Although it was officially night time, down Tower Bridge and beyond, the clubbing scene had been going off since noon. Just past the Tate Modern was a little pocket of grass where the Disco Shed blurred.

This tent has done the rounds this summer and is now officially a must-have festival accessory, playing at the likes of Reading and The Big Chill.

The Disco Shed was the piece-de-resistance at this London festival, the show stopper. The strangest gatherings of people were united with mash-up of anthems of You got the love and MJ’s Don’t stop ‘till you get Enough, churned out by resident DJ and all round legend Peepshow Paddy.

The last song of the night was of course The Clash’s riotous anthem London Calling as Peepshow Paddy blasted a solemn goodnight and the party animals began to disperse. There was a split second of peace, which was broken suddenly by the long awaited firework display.

The complex lightshow and massive rockets signified the climax of the evening, the proper end of summer, and we watched the dirty old river roll onto new shores under the lights.

Buzzing crowds did a mini stampede towards London Bridge for a better view; Londoners gazed up at the sky and watched the cosmic sprays land over the Houses of Parliament.

We raised our glasses to Summer’s end, and toasted the ideas for next Summer’s itinerary. Smash on.