Welcome to the original and one & only independent Caribana blog! For the last 8 years, we’ve been posting exclusively about ♥Caribana♥, the Toronto Carnival, the largest Caribbean festival in North America. We’re heading into our 15th year playing mas together, and looking for an extraordinary experience! Constructive critiques are welcome. ♥It’s all about playing your mas!♥
We just reach back from holidays today, and here is the order of bands in the parade
1. Durham Mas
3. Fantazia International
5. Carnival Revolution
6. Tribal Carnival
7. Carnival Nationz
8. Toronto Revellers
9. Louis Saldenah Mas-K Club
It's nice to see that they have allowed the smaller bands go first, lord knows they have enough obstacles in their way. They don't need to be at the back of the parade too.
I see Saldenah is the last band. I don't know if this is luck of the draw, or some compromise with regards to the Machel / TMBA situation.
I'm looking at what seems to be the proposed route, and it looks to me that they just might be able to get the stormer issue under control. It looks like the only time that masqueraders will be on an actual road (inside the EX is not road) is for that strip of Lakeshore Blvd directly in front of the Exhibition. If this entire stretch is barricaded with "Indy fencing" the tall fences with concrete footing, it will be difficult to breach the fences. I don't know if this is the case... for example even EMS can't get past those fences, so, I don't know if that is the plan.
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
I'm a little concerned about his shorter route. If the FMC is successful in locking out spectators, and more people are persuaded to pay admission into the CNE grounds, I'm afraid we will never see a nice long road route again.
Also, with talk of judging being near the end of the route, when do masqueraders get really jump up and party hard, without the restriction of "get in your section!, get in your section!" steadily being chanted by the mic man?
I'm also hoping their logistics guy is certain about the parade looping onto itself. Last time they tried that in Downsview with Kiddies, it was a log jam. I'm sure somebody told him that story, and they won't repeat this mistake.
I guess we have to be supportive and hope for the best.
A good way to get involved in the
festival is to sign up as a volunteer. Kara and I have been helping out for
about eight years now. You get the chance to offer your skills to help the festival. You get to meet many other supporters and gain some small appreciation
of what it takes to make an event of this size run. Also, as a volunteer, you
will have the opportunity to meet the people who manage the festival, a good
way to get your ideas to the decision makers.
This is a
call that went out to recruit volunteers
It’s that time of year again when The Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival
will bring together thousands of attendees and participants from all over North
America and Overseas. This year the festival will run from July 7th -
August 2nd, 2015 in various locations within Toronto. This 3
week cultural explosion is one of the largest in North America with 2015 being
no exception. In fact, for 2015 we will be expecting more people
with the PanAm and Para PanAm games taking place during the same period. The Festival
relies on tireless efforts of dedicated volunteers like you to make things
We would like
to extend the opportunity to you again this year to volunteer at this year’s
Festival. We are looking for flexible volunteers who can commit to
their assigned hours and float between duties. There are several
volunteer opportunities for you to select from providing you with an incredible
carnival experience. Attached is a copy of the 2015 Recruitment
Flyer and Volunteer Application. Please complete and submit as soon
as possible as positions will fill up fast.
Feel free to
pass this information to family and friends.
there is a mandatory training session taking place on Saturday June 20th that
you must attend.
If you have
any concerns or question please feel free contact me.
Ravishing Raesha Sirois is not only a masquerader, pannist and this years Face of the Festival, but, believe it or not, a 48 year-old mother of three. I know, I was surprised too. I recently asked Raesha about her involvement in, and opinions about all things Carnival.
Anthony Berot photo
~Karabana~ When did you first play mas and why?
R.S.: I first played mas several years ago. It
was 1992 and I was a book-keeper for a DJ company. The company had a float in
the parade known as Caribana back then and we all wore hideous spandex
unitards. Very 90's. Chubb Rock and Maestro Fresh Wes rocked the truck.
~K~ How was that first experience for you?
experience was not true Carnival for me. I had been to Trinidad for Carnival
and though I have never played mas there, I knew that soca was the music for
me. I knew that pretty mas was for me. I knew that I loved to see the
traditional costumes: Blue Devils, Dame Lorraine, fancy Indians, Midnight
Robbers, Moko Jumbies, Pierrot Grenade, Jab Jabs, etc. That float I was on in
1992 was just a job and it was not meaningful.
was last years’ experience like for you?
R.S.: Last years’ experience was not very nice at
first. I was in a band that had far too many revelers for the allotted space,
many were drunk and tripping all over my costume (which had a cape full of
peacock feathers) and I had the unpleasant eruption of masqueraders losing
their minds when The Cherub (aka ex-mayor Rob Ford) crashed my section. He
rubbed his damp shoulder on me. I swear my costume was full of booze and sweat
and hepatitis. Things got exponentially better when I left the mas band and
backtracked to meet my steelpan band. I played with Silhouettes since 1994 and
love to beat my 9-bass in costume. We had no problem with non-masqueraders
"storming" because they do not tend to bother with steel pan. The
hooligans seem to want DJ trucks.
Security in the mas band is a joke. Those
marshals do not know what they are doing. Look at Trinidad and see how it is
done!! These people do not mess!!! One year, a marshal kept trying to get me
drunk. Waste of energy. Marshals here are nowhere near as efficient as the ones in Trinidad. Down there, they take the job seriously. They keep the masqueraders in their sections and protect them from non-masqueraders. Here in Toronto, the marshals are ineffective, in my experience. Can you imagine going to
Christmas parade, jumping on a float and wining on Santa Claus? You'd get arrested! Yet it
happens year after year at Toronto Carnival. Insane. Torontonians are generally
polite. Until Carnival.
you've played mas elsewhere, how did it compare to Toronto Carnival?
R.S.: I have never played mas anywhere else but
Toronto. I would love to play in Trinidad but I would need to sell a kidney to
finance the costume. I need my kidneys. I do appreciate the fact that I can get
on public transit IN COSTUME and travel alone to the parade in Toronto.
That is not advised in Trinidad.
I appreciate that I can jump up ALONE in
Toronto Carnival. That is not advised in Trinidad.
I appreciate that I can travel by transit
in costume ALONE home at night after the Toronto Carnival. That is not advised
did you get involved in modeling costumes?
R.S.: I started modelling costumes this year. I
figured that I was not getting any younger and keeping the cellulite off was
only going to get tougher so I contacted several mas bands and asked if they
needed models. I had the pleasure of modelling for Tribal Nights, D'Regulars
and Durham Mas. I am (going to be) on the parade route wearing a Tribal Nights Animation
costume and I am in love with it.
do you do to look so incredibly fabulous?
R.S.: My family genes are good. Thank God for
that. But I do work out pretty hard with weights, yoga and cardio about 5x a
week. I also watch what I eat and have no shame about contacting professionals
for help. I currently have the aid of Wholistic Bodybuilding and Wellness in
Woodbridge, along with seeing an esthetician for cold laser facials, a massage
therapist, naturopath and osteopath. I spend copious amounts of time and money
on looking and feeling good. I think it is worth every cent.
would you tell ladies thinking of playing mas, but not sure if they can pull it
off or have the confidence to wear a costume?
R.S.: For anyone thinking of playing mas but you
are concerned about your shape: you need to go to Trinidad and see their
Carnival. The North American Ideal woman seems to be Barbie. Too bad for that.
In Trinidad, men love women of all shapes and sizes. Sexiness comes in how you
carry yourself. Women there realize it. I just wish that self-confidence would
make it's way up here. Get on a costume and go do your thing. Love yourself.
People compliment my figure but I have issues with it myself!! And I feel silly
admitting it!! I think I look like G.I Joe with boobs!! Just do it! Trinidadian
women have it down. They rock the costume no matter what. Last year, I didn't
even get much action in Trinidad. Men avoided me to to wine on the larger
ladies. IT WAS THAT DAMNED "ROLLY POLLY" SONG!!! They were taking all
are you hoping for on the road this year?
R.S.: This year I hope to see more guys in
costume in the parade. Come on, Fellas!! The ratio of men to women is 1:8. Not
only would it make things more interesting for us females, but you are
guaranteed a fabulous time. This year, I would love to see security for
masqueraders like they have in Trinidad. Get people properly in their sections
using the human rope. Have bouncers remove stormers from the band like they do
in nightclubs. This year, I would love to see pan integrated into the parade
instead of pushed to the back like an afterthought.
Karl Bharmania photo
~K~ Why should young people with a Caribbean
background play mas and not jump the fence?
R.S.: Young people with Caribbean heritage should
get to know more about their culture. Let's talk Trinidad because that is the
country of my birth. Trinidadian Carnival has a rich history. Learn about
slaves being allowed to party for a couple days before Lent and what they did
with those days.
about the traditional characters I mentioned above. Although Carnival is not
religious, the roots are associated with the Catholic faith. All of this is so
fascinating. Put aside $20/ a month. That is $5/ week. At the end of the year,
you have enough for a costume. For guys, it is even less. Get your friends
together to all play mas. It is so addictive. I have a patient of mine who goes
down to Trinidad annually with her buddies to play mas there. They have no
Caribbean background yet there they are, having the time of their lives as a
group --- year after year. I admire that so much. Why can't Torontonians do
that here? Try it. Just try it. You and your pals will be hooked. It really is
that much fun. Caribbean Carnivals are very unique in that participation is voluntary AND ENCOURAGED! Just buy a mas costume, register in a band and...voila, you are now part of the parade. It is so easy to correctly be a part of the action.
does Carnival mean to you?
R.S.: Ahhh, what does Carnival mean to me? This
last question is the one to bring tears to my eyes. I get truly emotional
discussing this as it is very dear to my heart. Steelpan is one of my passions.
I love it so much. The main reason for me to go to Trinidad for Carnival is
Panorama Finals. If I missed that, the trip was worthless to me. Carnival here
means the Pan Alive Steelpan competition July 31st at Lamport Stadium first and
foremost. Carnival here means beating pan on the route. Carnival in Toronto
means the soca music and the pan and the dancing and the freedom to wine on
somebody and have a time and then go home to your partner and no harm done.
Carnival in Toronto means stopping to take photos in costume with visitors from
around the globe, showing them that we know how to party. That we are gracious
and polite and friendly. It is beautiful, free, sexy, passionate. I am addicted.
mention that I currently play 9-bass with Pan Fantasy. Listen here
After getting to know the fun group of ladies, we were given some basic Latin dance instructions by Shakera. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious, you can't help but smile the entire time.
No kidding Dress to Sweat! We got our heart rates up sweating to the Latin vibes and trying to do Shakera proud with our newly learned dance moves. Everyone enjoyed this not too big, not too small, but just right class size, and it was fun to see that even a few wee tots took part.
The next Socialize, Energize, Exercise is Friday, June 26. The theme will be Too Young to Soca, so expect some old school Soca tunes, just in time to get you ready for Toronto Carnival.