Toronto Carnival 2018: Lessons learned


I am tired. Busted. Exhausted. Spent.

What did I do, you ask? I was on the road with Saldenah Carnival, playing mas, enjoying myself and living my best life this weekend.

Listen, I’m sore, but I had the best time. As a second-time mas player, I have learned more lessons and had an even better time–even with some of the hiccups we experience, granted my challenges were easily dealt with versus some of the things I read online.

Anyhow, what did I learn my second time on the road? Lemme tell you:

There I am in the upper left corner!

The people you are with are key to how much or how little fun you have. I had the pleasure of playing mas with folks who wanted to have fun. People who sang also, wined their waist, laughed and talked. We were relatively stress-free–aside from one friend wandering off and another losing her phone (which she got back with everything intact.) Carnival lesson #1–how much fun you have is due to who you’re on the road with. Have friends who are miserable? Or need to have things perfect? Yeah, they are going to be miserable and they will probably expect you to be miserable with them. You don’t want that action in your life.

Join the right band. In Toronto, we have more than 10 bands and they all launch their carnival concepts in the spring. We played with Saldenah last year and had a great experience. So, this year, we decided to go back to with Saldenah but we chose a different section leader. Sigh. We chose our costumes based solely on how pretty they were and without a thought of section leader. Honestly, my major issues with our section leader was that he was not a good communicator. We didn’t know when our costumes would be ready or if certain pieces were going to be ready.

For the most part, my costume was wearable as it came out of the box. My sister-in-law’s costume? Not so much. We were at the dollar store Friday evening buying glue, feathers and cord. Ultimately, she had to wear a bright pink bikini under her costume because this is a PG event, not X-rated. She was better off than some other folks we met on the parade route. One woman was in a black bra. Just a black bra. She was vex because her costume didn’t fit and there was no recourse because we picked up the day before the parade. If it didn’t fit, well too bad. When you pay hundreds of dollars for a “custom-made” costume, we expect that we won’t have to McGyver costumes so that we can wear them. That being said, there were much worse things that I read on Instagram.

My 2017 experience was perfection from start to finish and we played mas with the same band–just different section leaders. There is a reason why some sections sell out on Day 1 and why some still have costumes available the day before the parade. Choose your section–and band–carefully and with precision. That is the best lesson I learned this year. I will be choosing wisely in 2019. If you have an hour and a half to spare, watch us cross the stage here.


Enjoy the beauty of us. We come in such beautiful colours and sizes and Caribana weekend just highlights that. We are gorgeous and this is an opportunity to appreciate us and dress for us. When I was younger, I would have never worn a costume and paraded in a legit panty and bra because I was too concerned about what other people would think about how I looked. Playing mas? I could care less. I am loving me–and that’s the point. We are out there sincerely complimenting each other because it’s not about competition–it’s about love. It’s an unexplainable feeling that leaves you wanting more. We laughed, we danced and we enjoyed our melanin magic.

20180806_132758-COLLAGEEnjoy the carnival festivities. After you’ve put up the feathers and soaked those aching feet, have a little fun with friends. Whether you go to a soca fete or a day party, spend some time cracking jokes about the foolishness that went down–our dollar store run to fix a mash up costume–and the best parts of the weekend–chipping down the road to Splinters and Year for Love. Make new friends and spend time with old ones…and start planning for next year.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Me says:

    Yassss! Love this article

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