- Soca 2019! -

Friday, June 24, 2016

For the love of mas

In another special feature as part of our 10th year blogging, we spoke with another member of the carnival community, long time masquerader, Dale McFarlane. 

~K~: Tell us about your journey with mas. How/why did you get started playing mas in Toronto Carnival

D:  I started playing mas in Toronto thru a friend and was introduced to my carnival family, section leaders Jenny and Deanne Paty. 

~K~:  You volunteer to make costumes for Carnival Nationz. How long have you been doing that, and what is your favourite thing to build?
D:  This is my 5th year helping build mas, it's in my blood being a McFarlane and all (his grandfather's cousin is Brian McFarlane). I love to wrap anything (wire bra, head piece and back pac) when you see my work it's an art form like no other. 

~K~: What was your favourite year playing mas in Toronto and why?

 D:  My favorite year was last year 2015 because not much stormers for us but it was still unacceptable.

~K~:  What are your thoughts on the current state of the parade? (For or against fences? Change the route or leave it? Small bands to start, or not? CNE & Lakeshore or another location?) 

D:  The stormers are such a turn off, NYC have crowd control with plenty police this should be done here. No one should be allowed to walk back up on the road. Route, I don't care about...but the fences I wish weren't needed. The crowd needs to respect the mas, the culture.

~K~:   Have you ever had any negative carnival experiences? 

D:  The stormers make Caribana a bad experience.

~K~: Although we really shouldn’t compare Toronto Carnival to Trinidad Carnival, people can’t help themselves. What is something we in Toronto can learn from Trinidad when it comes to putting on a world class parade? 

D:  The costumes are not up to TnT standards. Now this true but not all bands are guilty of this. This year had some beautiful mas.

Carnival Monday 2015. I did my own make up, designed my jewelry & had it made to fit the theme (Cleopatra and Anthony).

~K~:   What are some common misconceptions people have about carnival or mas that you’ve heard over the years?
D:  The respect for the mas. Some treat it sacred, it's "ours" to preserve, protect and share with the world.

~K~: Someone says to you they want to come for Toronto Carnival, and they’ll just jump in with a band, not bother with a costume. What would you tell them?
D:  Hell no. I've said this to someone that lived here. This person was upset that the "Jamaican" band was pull. I said any band that does not have costume should not be allowed to participate, that didn't go over well.

~K~: A lot of people are interested in becoming involved in Toronto Carnival, but they’re not sure what they can do. What are some ways people can help? (at the mas camps, on parade day?)
D:  I would suggest marshalls but that's just another way for ppl to get on the road and cause the stormer problem...mas camps need help, just contact the bands leaders and ask. Bringing food, drinks and snacks would be nice too.


~K~:  Tell us what it’s like for you to cross the stage.

D:  Crossing stage is LIFE!!!! For me it's all the hard work pay off. Look at me, see my mas. I join with those gone in the celebration of the struggle. Carnival was birth out of rebellion.

I chose Carnival Nationz because they make pretty mas, on the level of Trinidad. They also have a nice blend of ppl, a true representation of the Caribbean. They are one of the only bands that represent the theme clearly.

 Fantasy, Trinidad Carnival 2015. Cleopatra and Anthony.  Me crossing the stage. Proud moment!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Get your Carnival Kicks!


Now that you've decided on your band and section, it's time to accessorize! Choosing footwear and tights/stockings is an important part of the playing mas, and should never be an afterthought.

Last year I went with Peavey Footless Low Rise Hosiery from Carnival Kicks.
Peavey makes a strong yet slightly shimmery pair of tights made perfectly for mas. I thought going footless worked out well since usually footed pairs do dig into and hurt my toes after chipping away in them for many hours. Suntan was a good match and I wore fishnets on top.  $13 is a great price for such durable tights you can get several uses out of, everywhere else charges a lot more.

I also got their Metallic Thin Shoelace in Solid Silver and was pleased with how they added a bit more silver to my shoes. My order came in a few business days. I will definitely be ordering with them again.
Check out what carnivalkicks.com has to offer this year, there are some new additions to jewellery as well as Micles Glitter Fishnet Pantyhose. If you're lucky enough to be a size 5 or 6, many boots and shoes are reduced to $9.99, but order them quickly, they won't last at that price.   

Friday, June 10, 2016


Over the years many ladies have told me they admire the carnival costumes, but they attend only as a spectator or just go the fetes. When I ask them if they'll play mas, they say "Oh no, not me!" and how they don't have the "right" body type, and can't wear such a "skimpy" costume in the parade.

I will always remember how poised and elegant this model was on stage at the Tribal Carnival launch. She presented this pretty costume in the classiest way I've ever seen.

Enter Nadelle SocaP and #everyBODYplayahmas, a project has been working on for the past couple years. #everyBODYplayahmas aims to have all sizes and shapes represented in carnival. 

Nadelle loves playing mas and celebrating Caribbean culture, but she says "I would often hear women say they would not participate because they felt they needed to be a certain size."

For the past two years she has organized groups to play mas. In 2014 Nadelle organized the Miss Canada Plus pageant participants to register with Saldenah, and last year she organized 30 plus size models from Toronto, the US and the Caribbean to play with the Toronto Revellers. 

"This year I felt their should be diversity reflected from the band launches. I emailed all band leaders for this years carnival, some were on board right away and some denied the request."


  Toronto Revellers

Atlantic Mas

"My goal for this campaign is to be a body positive movement that showcases confidence, and give other women that drive they need to not hold back" says Nadelle. 

Nadelle has been playing in Toronto (with Saldenah, and Toronto Revellers twice) for the past 12 years and she's also played in Trinidad 8 times. In Trinidad she has played with Tribe and Yuma. 
This year she's working with a band in Miami and also working on something for Jamaica Carnival in 2017. 


I love this campaign and know that it will just continue to gain momentum, because every woman, whatever size, should feel free to be herself, enjoying life to the fullest!

Friday, June 03, 2016

Get ready

It was a busy 2 months! All the bands have launched, (we haven't heard back from Concept Costume Creators) and registration is underway, with many popular sections in big bands selling out quickly, as expected. 

Looking at the numbers, we've attended 88 band launches in the past 10 years. In the first couple of years, we visited mas camps for pictures when there weren't launches. For the big bands (with up to 16 sections and 4-5 costumes per section), we take easily minimum 500+ photos x 2. For the small bands, both of us take anywhere from 80 - 200 photos. That brings us to a total of about 41,600 photos taken since 2007. And that's just the launches, I'm not getting into the other events like the official launch, Jr. (Kiddies) Carnival, King & Queen, or the parade itself. 

We started this blog because there was no easily accessible, up-to-date information online at the time for Caribana. We wanted to see pictures of all the costumes, share & discuss them, so we attended all the launches and posted pictures here. This is our hobby. We aren't professional photographers, and the image of our blog has always been that amateurs can take pictures of the costumes for carnival enthusiasts to see, and we all are free to share our experiences with each other. 

When band leaders, sections leaders, designers, models and masqueraders like & share our photographs, display them as their profile picture, send us thank you messages, and use them on their websites and in other promotional material, we are appreciative, and that makes it all worth it for us. We attend every launch with the same objective, to get the best coverage of the costumes we can. The same effort is given for each and every band. For something that isn't our job, we put a lot of work into this, including post editing. Staying up until 5am to edit, upload and post the pictures has become the norm, perhaps sometimes to Trini-in-Toronto's chagrin. We don't have to do it, we want to do it. 
I still get a rush when I see new, unique costumes on stage and models having fun displaying them. I always hope to see "my" costume stand out among the rest, and get I excited thinking about wearing it on parade day. That has happened this season, there were some memorable costumes, and I applaud the designers who come up with something different for our BBF mas. I remain astounded with the ladies who model, essentially bikinis, in those 6 inch platform heels - that takes some skill. So many models walk & wine on the runways with style, and it's evident they love doing it. They are truly selling the mas.

The challenges at some launches remain to be inadequate lighting and inexperienced models who don't remain on the stage long enough or pose, or aren't coached to do so. But we work with what there is, and that's where editing comes in, although we don't use Photoshop, just our basic camera software. We're talking cropping & colour correction. Two new bands reached out to us to ask what they can do to help media at their band launch, and for feedback on how their launch went, and that is what we mentioned. 

Production at all camps is well underway, and many masqueraders hope that bands learn from their past mistakes, and are not still hot glueing gems on costumes Friday, July 29 at midnight with their thrilled customers lined up waiting outside.

When it comes to the costumes this year, I was expecting bigger mas, bigger wings. It seemed like that trend was going to continue after the last couple of years. Who knows why, maybe not much of an interest in those huge costumes, and/or because of the tactical maneuvering required on the stormer filled Lakeshore. Most people who've worn one have learned they don't want that nightmare again.  Speaking of big mas, and the high prices of these ultra frontlines, I would think masqueraders want to get their money's worth. You pay an ultra price, but will you get an ultra experience? 

New band Island Vybz Mas says they are committed to catering to masqueraders. "We offer a stylish, premium carnival experience with a focus on providing exceptional service, costume quality and deluxe amenities both on and off the road." They list Uniformed Security | Mobile Washrooms. World Class Djs Seamless Registration and Pickup | Superior Costume Quality Innovative Costume Design | Unparalleled Masquerader Service.  

Atlantic Mas, another new band, says they will provide "an all inclusive experience alongside added security measures for masqueraders, (and) will be meticulously involved in operations to ensure a safe and memorable experience for their sections."

Two new bands recognizing the importance of security, and this was before they announced new bands go last.

Jamaal Magloire, Toronto Revellers bandleader, mentioned at their launch that since they are going down #1 on the road and will avoid the stormers. 

Since it's apparent from last year's parade that it's going to be up to the bands to provide security, I have a question for all the band leaders: What are you going to do to provide security for your masqueraders?

Caribana 2010 slideshow

Mardi Gras, Hamilton

Mardi Gras, Hamilton

Blog Archive

J'ouvert 2008!

J'ouvert 2008!

Mardi Gras 2010

Buublenut, Megan & Karabana at Caribana 2007!

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