Are You Ready For Mas?
By Josha Shivprashad
The big day has finally arrived! Carnival Saturday in Toronto! (Sat Aug 4th 2018) After all that preparation it’s time to enjoy yourself and let loose to some good Caribbean vibes. Prepare yourself for a fun filled day with a lot of dancing, jumping up, chipping and wining down the road.
Today Is The Day!
“From you wake up this morning, you’s ah winner” – Cheers To Life by Voice. This soca song should be the anthem of all actions you take today! Wake up and get ready. You have a few options here; you can get partially ready and finish putting on your costume when you get downtown or get fully dressed before you leave home. The partial option is a good choice if you have a costume with a lot of beading and feathers (on a grander scale); it avoids costume damage while you’re travelling from home to the parade. If you have a make up appointment with a MUA get in contact with them right away and confirm your appointment, don’t be late!
If you’re travelling with a group or going to meet up with them make sure you are all on the same page, this is where group chats come in handy! While eating should be a priority, try to do it on the way if you haven’t woken up early enough to have a proper breakfast. Tim Hortons and McDonalds are good ideas for a quick drive thru on your way to the parade, but do make sure you eat!
There will be a lot of road closures, as you get deeper into the city due to the parade of course. You’re going to want to plan accordingly, especially if you’re taking public transportation. Give your self a lot of travelling time because you more than likely will be stuck in some traffic (Good Ol’ Toronto). Make sure you have your wristband before you leave as well; you don’t want to get to the parade, ready to go on road and realize you don’t have a wristband to get through the parade gates to play mas with your band. Feel free to pack some light snacks and beverages with you as well. That being said, make sure you have a designated driver if your group drove.
Find Your Band
You’re through the gate and it’s time to find your band. Upon costume pick up details about what number your band is should be provided to you. In most cases though, this doesn’t really work. The trick is to just keep walking until you see a group of people with the same costume as you. If your band is in the beginning of the parade its much easier to find them because it will be one of the first trucks. Make sure you have a good and comfortable pair of shoes on because finding your band is the beginning of the trek when it comes to playing mas (don’t worry though, after you find your band the fun begins). You will be organized based on your costume within your band. This organization will be kept once the parade starts for judging purposes. Every band will get a chance to pass judging, where you, the masquerader will be required to show off your best dance moves! After passing the judging stage is when you will tend to see a mixing of bands. Masqueraders are usually allowed to split up from their band at this point and chip their way down the road with other members from other bands. This is Carnival time!
This is what you’ve been waiting for. This part of the parade is for you to get on what is known as “bad bad bad”, which is actually a good thing. You can let loose and let the soca music flow through your veins. You will see a lot of people dancing and wining on each other. When doing this, do be mindful. Wining on a stranger is usually acceptable but there is some etiquette that must be followed. Approach politely and initiate the wine. Don’t go crazy, start slow. If the other person does not reciprocate the wine, then politely move on. Carnival is all about good vibes and positivity, always remember that! Dancing by yourself or chipping is common and everyone does it; so don’t worry about not having a dance partner. You are there to enjoy yourself, so do just that! Remember, you are not the only one playing mas, there are more than a thousand people who are playing with you. Be mindful of space and your immediate surroundings. Losing a friend in the crowd is very likely, so make sure you have a fully charged phone and game plan set up of where to meet if you do get split up.
One key thing to remember, especially if it’s sunny and hot outside, is to stay hydrated. Where other beverages may be your go to, make sure to add some water to the mix. You will be on the road, exerting a lot of energy dancing and jumping up. The last thing you want is to fall sick because you’re dehydrated. Water is your best friend on the road and you will feel thirsty from all the wining you're going to be doing, so make sure in your bag of goodies that there is plenty of H20.
Carnival is all about letting loose, being yourself and having fun. No matter what shape, size, or colour you are, carnival in Toronto is about unifying as one people and having a good time. Use these tips and tricks provided to make the most of your mas experience this year. What are you waiting for, go and put on your dancing shoes, because - IT’S CARNIVAL! Don't miss out! Caribana is Sat Aug 4th 2018!