Soca 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

~What Carnival means to me~

Have you seen the album What Carnival means to me

 Send #STC your pan photos, masquerader shots, volunteer marshal pictures and spectator photos. 
And include what Toronto Carnival means to you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Get your las lap at Fierte Montreal Pride is looking for people for their parade and it's free! Come in your carnival costumes or carnival wear! They have have a big truck on the road with soca music by DJ Maddy and more then 50 000 watts of sound system. Parade starts at 11 am on Renez Levesque and the corner of Fort Street and ends on Sanginais Street (5k road march). Please call 514-600-7168 for more info. 

Free food for masqueraders! If you don't have a costume, come with your flags!
If you need costumes call 514-344-9742.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Stormers for the win

 You know what is up next. The bad and the ugly.  

                                  Proceeding to the first judging. This was at about 2:00. 

Suddenly you look around and begin to see this. Wait - he is not in costume. Where is his wristband? There are non costumed people with no wristbands in the section. But how can that be? Because you should have a wristband and t-shirt or costume which will allow you to enter the festivities happening at Exhibition Place.”   

Total chaos by now. There were so many stormers walking on the left and within our section, we were all so confused as to how this was happening in the CNE. How did they get in the band? After all, You must have both forms of ID to gain entrance into Exhibition Place and onto the parade route.
                            Was this judging? I guess so, because I saw the two judges signs.

We were jostled around, told to move here, no, go there, and at one point a marshal screamed at us to hurry up and get going. You know, I understand how difficult this was for the marshals - there was no crowd control since all these non masqueraders were allowed into our section. But keep in mind, we were in our section, and we were awaiting proper direction. No need to get pissed at us. There were stormers within our section, so we were trying to play ah mas, but it became increasingly difficult to do so having to get past all these people. They were ruining our vibe, and not leaving even as we approached judging.

                         I guess we past the judging and we were on our way out of the CNE.

But it did not take long for us to be hit with another set of stormers. 

Fence scaling at it’s finest.

The crowd applauded and cheered her on. There was no sense of shame. She was proud to be scaling the fence. Talk about no apology for my behaviour. 

Very secure fence.


Constant flow of people onto the route from this security breach.


Yes, what you are seeing is indeed a young child being dragged onto the route. 
After all, it is a family friendly event, right?

Not very far from the above fence breach was this scene.

This should put to rest the misconception that Toronto police officers are on the parade route to provide security. Please understand this once and for all: their job at carnival is to keep the peace. If there is an altercation, they do their job. But notice where this is, at the end, where you turn back into the CNE. There were no officers along the route that I could see.  
I just wish people would stop crying we need more cops, with the notion that they would keep stormers out of the band. That is NOT their role at carnival. 
Another tired old record on repeat is the continual comparison of Toronto Carnival to Trinidad Carnival. You do know laws work differently in the two countries, right? What happens in Trinidad cannot happen here in Toronto. But do not get me started on that...

Heading back into the CNE, this situation had plenty of on-lookers. Police were trying to coax this guy on the truck to come down.  

We did attempt to head back into the CNE, but the claustrophobic crowd was ridiculous, so we left at 6:00.

The road is mine? Hah. The road belongs to stormers. They have claimed the road. It’s theirs. With all of them on the Lakeshore, which will now be known as Stormer Alley, you know they think some masqueraders are ok, but too many with those big costumes are an annoyance.  One guy shouted with contempt “Too much feathers! Too much feathers!” 
That’s what it feels like as a female masquerader to have a large feathered backpack or wings as part of your costume – a pain in their ass. They’ve got to maneuver around us, get past us, our costumes are in their way.  And they don’t do so with manners, of course, they get past you with aggression, force. They shove past you, damaging parts of your costume or hurting you. And so many resent us in our costumes. We’ve been described by online fence jumpers as self-important and ostentatious, among other things. For participating in the parade properly, playing mas that we’ve paid for. Even when you give people other options (t-shirts, build your own mas) to legitimately participate in the parade, they’re not interested. 
You know it’s really not about cost for many. It’s about getting away with something bad. They want to say they stormed Caribana. They proudly post videos of their ridiculous dangerous behaviour. They feel no shame in climbing those fences, cutting through them, and grabbing at as many masqueraders as they can to tief a wine.  

I can tell you from 16 years of playing mas here in Toronto there’s a difference between a male masquerader wining on you and a stormer pulling at you from behind, holding on with that vice grip, thrusting into you and grabbing at your crotch.  That is not wining. If you try and argue that it is, I’m here to tell you it’s NOT. 

When someone tells you this happens, you should be appalled, disgusted, and frankly, it should be a call to action. You should not want any members of your community to go through this. It didn’t happen to you, that wasn’t your experience? Well, I’m glad you’ve never had to go through that. But how dare you try and downplay the violations & assaults that happen, try and ignore the negatives like they don’t exist. Such a self centered attitude, that since you never saw it, so what, it doesn’t happen? How is that supporting your community?

There’s not only an ignorance of what mas is, but a disdain for mas. The big mas is getting in their way of their street party. You know the mentality: the girls in just string bikinis, nothing else, are great, they take all your hard wine, go down to de ground, lift their leg up, jump up on you.  But how come the rest of them have to wear so much of an obstruction?

Besides the violations, you know how else you feel as a female masquerader? Afraid. Inside the CNE you can tell the stormers to keep to the sidewalk when there are a manageable few. But you can’t really tell the stormers to stay to the side, get off the route on Stormer Alley (the Lakeshore). So many of them start arguing with you, yelling, and it can turn physical. I’ve seen so many fights between stormers and masqueraders. They don’t want to be told that. You’re just some uppidy bitch who thinks she’s the shit because she paid whatever for that costume. Who are you to tell me I can’t be on the road? And on Stormer Alley, forget about it, don’t even try to get past all of them, better just go with the flow, because you can easily get assaulted and no one will care, since you’re surrounded by them. Security is nowhere to be found. Police officers are all the way down at the end, not on the route. By the time you find help, the assailant is long gone. 

Can you not put yourself in their shoes? You get assaulted in a massive swarm of people. There are no marshals in sight, no police officers. These sleazebags know what they’re doing, they pretend they are up on you to just take a wine, so no one around you knows any different, they aren’t coming to your aid. To respond with “did you report it?” is being callous and insensitive and is insulting to masqueraders. That blaming the victim mentality isn’t supportive to your sisters. It doesn’t help your community.

And saying “well, my band/section was stormer free, we had no problems” therefore this carnival was a success, besides being very self absorbed, it isn’t being supportive of the collective, the entire mas community. You should be bothered that any part of your cultural display had issues. If you really want this carnival to survive and thrive, you’d be against security beaches in any band. 
The fact that many Nationz masqueraders also acted as marshals, physically tried to keep stormers out is disgraceful. Masqueraders are there to play mas, not act as security.  And is that what it’s now come to people? That you pay good money for your fantastic costume, so you must try and protect it too? How can you truly free up, let go, and throw all your stress away when you are also stressing acting as security, telling stormers to leave? 
How many parades have you been to with destruction of costumes and property, assaults, violations, and fighting? 

This is carnival? 

If you want to stick to the my band was great refrain and continue to keep the ongoing rivalry between Band A and Band B alive, have at ‘er. But how is that conducive to supporting the Caribbean mas culture? Is your motivation to be competitive, or the love of mas, all mas? It’s like the pettiness I continually see of not being able to acknowledge fabulous costumes if they didn’t come from your band. Really, you haven’t progressed much since grade school. Way to hold onto your childish thinking.  

Did I have great expectations for this year? No. Did I hope it would work out in the CNE? Yes. Do I have any regrets? No. I made the choice to play mas even after last year because I love playing mas. What did I learn? That Stormer Alley (remember, the Lakeshore) is a write off. That I do not care to risk my safety by taking a chance with the masses. And most importantly, I learned that stormers cannot be stopped. They want to storm. They will find a way in. There is no educating so many of them in the hopes that they see the error in their ways. Some will get it, but you know, when I was surrounded and enclosed many times on Saturday, I felt like, in my costume, that I was in the minority, like I was crashing their party. This was not the Caribana experience I used to have when I first participated in the year 2000. The euphoria, sense of excitement and abandon was not there. 
So... how was your carnival? Regular readers you know I always ask this, I always give you the good, the bad and the ugly, and this year is no exception.

Have your say by answering and sharing the short survey on Save Toronto Carnival

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Parade pictures - Part II and Mr. Fete

Continuation of the good that was Toronto Carnival 2015, which was the costumes, and my section selection.



I didn't have the expectation that I'd play mas this year. I came to accept that 2014 was likely my last year playing mas in Toronto Carnival.  But Mr. Fete was able to convince me. Um, what have we here? So many rhinestones! And those pretty pastels. When I saw that entire costume at the launch, I was so drawn to it. I told Ronnie it was the sexiest costume he's designed yet. That gorgeous rhinestone waistband, the best designed, glamorous & most tasteful wire bra I've ever seen, a terrific tiara headpiece... it all screamed my name. There was no other costume in any band that even came close, that had the entire look happening for me that way. 
Yes, Remedy is one pretty, pretty did I say pretty?, costume, but... I could only choose one.
I registered with ease in May with Samantha. She was such a pleasure to deal with, and I felt instantly so comfortable. I had a wire bra fitting, and almost went with that option. But I changed my mind when it came time for a second fitting. Everyone at the mas camp was stunned & gave me a hard time about that, lol, so at first I regretted it, but when I tried on my bra, I was very happy and ok with the decision.  


Mr. Fete sparkled and looked impressive on the road with all those wings and feathers, and there were plenty vibes in our section. There were many Mr. Fete's, most of whom had the shared goal to get on! get on! get on!

Once we started along the CNE route, spectators remained on the sidewalks. They were respectful of not coming out onto the road.

Spectators being spectators, some took a wine to the side.

And that's where actual parading stopped, and you know the rest...

Caribana 2010 slideshow

Mardi Gras, Hamilton

Mardi Gras, Hamilton

J'ouvert 2008!

J'ouvert 2008!

Mardi Gras 2010

Buublenut, Megan & Karabana at Caribana 2007! a7


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