Hey y’all! Are you enjoying the summer?
I’ve been unable to breathe for the past six weeks–I’ve had a chronic asthma attack and allergies. I’ve been trying to control it, but it’s been kicking my butt. I dragged myself to the doctor today and got a bunch of new prescriptions. Thank the Lord for medication–but damn, it’s expensive.
Anyhow, I’m now breathing through my nose and my lungs are starting to open up. I’m able to concentrate on life.
Next weekend, I’m playing mas in the Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival Grand Parade, otherwise known as Caribana. Playing mas means getting an awesome masquerader costume and dancing down Toronto’s Lakeshore. This is my second time playing mas and I’ve learned some lessons from my experiences.
Top 10 tips to make your Caribana lit
- Be comfortable. My feet give me a lot of trouble meaning, I have trouble finding comfortable footwear. Last year, I got a pair of running shoes and wore them–although I’ve seen people wear sandals (WHY?) and boots. All footwear has an expiration time, but I lasted the entire parade. Were my feet tired? Oh yes, they were. Was I hobbling at the end of parade? Nah. Your girl was still dancing and having a good time. Footwear is key.
- Enjoy playing with your makeup and glitter…lots of glitter. A friend of mine played mas years before me. She said that the one thing that she regretted was not going all out on the makeup front. She said, you just look plain if you don’t do some glitter. Not all of us are makeup people–and that’s fine–but take some time and check out some YouTube videos to get inspiration. Honestly, if all you do is stick some diamonds on your face, you’ll fit in just fine.
- Stay hydrated–with water, not alcohol. You will be on the road for hours–whether you’re playing mas or just attending the parade with friends. This summer has been particularly hot. Keep your water intake up. I’m not saying you can’t indulge in a adult beverage, but we’ve all seen that person who’s been drinking rum, out in the hot sun, sweating and then vomiting in the street. It’s dangerous and it’s not cute.
- Learn some of the big songs for the year. Yes, man, you need to know some of the songs to understand why the crowd starts carrying on once two notes are played. Some big ones–Kes, Hello, Splinters, Shal Marshall, Badishh, Nailah Blackman & Shenseea–or just listen to a DJ mix and enjoy.
- Going to the parade? Go with friends who like to have fun. That means leave the unreliable friends (the one who will leave you waiting for HOURS at Bathurst Station), the drunken friend (the one who will be lit before you arrive at the parade and you have to be responsible for them), the thirsty friend (the one who’s only goal is to be videotaped) and go with friends who love to laugh, dance, joke and have fun.
- Try to do at least one Caribana fete. Part of the fun is feeling the excitement in the city, so enjoy that! Go to a party–if you’re at the parade, I would advise not to go partying on Saturday night (I didn’t that last year and I was so beat)–there are day parties, soca fetes, boat parties, DJs from around the world who are performing. Go check it out.
- Take lots of pics, but stay in the moment. Whether you’re at the parade, at a party, on the street hanging out or whatever you’re doing, document your time at Caribana 2018, but stay in the moment. Don’t be so caught up in posting to Instagram or Snap that you miss out on the vibe of the event.
- If you are playing mas, try on your costume before the day of…preferably the day you receive it. Last year, when we played mas for the first time, my sister decided to order a panty size small for her costume. I looked at her side-eyed because although this was our first time playing mas, we had attended enough times to know how teeny the costumes can be. She picked up her costume and tried it on. Let’s say, she begged the organizers for a medium. Bum cheeks at the door! If that’s your thing, cool. If you don’t want your bits and pieces out the door, try out your costume and be ready to ask for a larger size if necessary.
- Everyone is from the States–even if their address is in Brampton. I’ve been attending Caribana for more than 20 years. Since I can remember, every guy who talks to you is from somewhere else, most times, New York City. There are a lot of Americans in attendance, but just because someone has an accent doesn’t mean that you won’t see him at Scarborough Town Centre or walking along Bay St. next week. Catch pure jokes and take nothing too seriously.
- Have fun. I always say that you have to enjoy yourself–even if things aren’t perfect. Someone is late. You’re bloated and your costume isn’t fitting right. The weather may suck. It’s all part of the experience. Don’t worry if you promised to be body goals but the bread was just too enticing (that’s me!). Don’t worry about not having the perfect hair or whatever. Honestly, it’s about having fun. Enjoy yourself and be safe.
See you on the road!