The BASS member sound systems are predominantly made up of the Sound Systems that you will find located at the annual London Notting Hill Carnival (Europe's largest street festival) which takes place every year over 2 days, during the August Bank Holiday weekend in London.
Although Sound Systems were present as an integral part of Black-British cultural expressions in Notting Hill prior to inception of the event in the 1960's, this year (2023) marks the 50th Anniversary of (static) Sound Systems being formally invited to participate at the Carnival officially as the 5th discipline. BASS was the brainchild of Alex Cuffy and launched in 1989. However, with ever increasing pressure from the authorities and fierce opposition from other traditional Caribbean carnival disciplines (mostly views that carnival is not the place for sound systems), it became clear that something had to be done.
Back in 2000, the formation of a committee representing this 5th discipline was agreed in order to manage and effectively represent sound systems at the organisational level. The British Association of Sound Systems (BASS) has since given Sound Systems a united front by means of a Trade Association. This has raised the profile and organisational standards of all Sound Systems that play at the Notting Carnival. Likewise it has gained the Carnival Sounds more recognition and formalises the contribution that Sound Systems make to our lives and to the community that we live in.
The Carnival sound systems were officially licensed by the authorities in 2006. This move was put in place in order to remove the possibility of 'rogue' (unlicensed) sound systems operating within the carnival footprint, together with it being a means to more easily 'control' Carnival sound systems. There are currently 38 designated officially licensed sound system sites at Carnival. The BASS organisation and membership sound systems work closely in partnership with the Carnival company, London's Metropolitan Police, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) and Westminster (WCC) local authorities throughout the year to organise the safe delivery of the sound system performing units at the Carnival event. This involves having regular group, as well as individual meetings, site visits, attending training sessions, meeting with residents and businesses and a whole lot more. When you come to Carnival and view the static sound systems in all of their glory, most people do not have an inkling about the amount of hard work, time, effort and indeed the resources and capital that it takes to bring each of these wonderful performing units into Notting Hill to entertain the crowds.
The Greater London Authority (GLA interim report 2001) informs us that the specialist DJ based sound systems provide the biggest attraction to Carnival attendances and have since continued to do so over the last 2 decades.
Please visit the member's pages for the individual Sound System sites, profiles and information about music policy. There are also direct links to each individual member sound's website and social media services included.
Discover what you can look forward to in relation to entertainment at Carnival 2023 and this site also offers useful links and related information and articles about the development of the UK sound system from inception to current day. Please view our article on -