So You Want to Play Mas?
By Josha Shivprashad
So you want to play mas at this upcoming Carnival in Toronto? But you never have before and want to know how? Don’t sweat it, save that for the road! I have combined a guideline for you on how you can get involved in one of the biggest Carnivals right here in Toronto. It all starts with costume selection.
Grab Your Friends and Go To Band Launches!
The first step in playing mas is finding a group that is down with the movement. I always recommend smaller groups, no more than five. When too many opinions get involved, selecting a costume and coming to a unanimous decision becomes quite difficult. Also, the chances of losing each other on the road is very high and more than likely.
Once you have your group figured out, the next step is to attend some band launches. What is band launch? This is the event where Mas camps show off their costumes to the public, also another reason to party. It is a mini fashion show of all the costumes provided by that camp followed by drinks and lots of dancing. After doing this, it is time to visit the actual Mas Camp. Each Mas Camp most likely will have a social media page providing hours of operation. Feel free to drop in, check out costumes and ask questions.
Saldenah Carnival (also known as Louis Saldenah) is a popular band and you will definitely hear the name more than once when talking about Toronto Carnival. Saldenah offers several events and boat cruises when you get involved with their band.
Choosing Your Costume
So you’ve got your group together, gathered your information, but now it is time to choose a costume. Picking a colour seems to be one of those decisions that get messy in a big group. But once you’ve all agreed on that, it is smooth sailing from there. Male costumes are easier to pick when it comes to cut and accessibility. Male costumes usually include shorts, a bedazzled chest and headpiece along with some minor accessories, simple right?
Female costumes take a little bit of consideration. You have to remember when choosing a costume that you will be moving, A LOT. Your costume will not look like the same costume you put on at the beginning of the parade that morning. Choose what is comfortable but suits you. If you like that “vavavoom” look with an intricate and flashy design then go for it. If you like simple and relaxed, those are great options as well. It is all personal preference at the end of the day. Remember; once you have your costume you can always add your own twist with additional accessories.
Venom Carnival and Carnival Nationz are two Mas Bands that offer some pretty wicked costumes for both males and females for this year’s parade that you’re going to want to see. They offer varying prices that can fit anyone’s budget that is looking to get involved in this years carnival.
The last step is to register. This final step includes sizing and putting down a deposit. Costume prices vary based on where you stand in the parade amongst your band. If you want to be at the front, be ready to pay front line prices, most likely $500.00 + plus. Don’t stop reading, prices vary and options are of plenty. You can find a really nice costume for an affordable price. This is why visiting several camps and doing your research is important. Many fine costumes with affordable prices can be found raking you in at around $150.00 to $300.00. But you must shop around. Once you put down your deposit and collected your section leaders information, you have officially registered. All that’s left to do now is wait for the completion of your costume while staying updated and in touch with your Mas camp.
Costume selection for Carnival is very fun, especially when doing it with people you love having a good time with. I promise you, playing Mas in Toronto is an experience of a lifetime. If you’re a carnival virgin, start off with these simple guidelines to get you started. Once you’ve done it once you’ll want to play again and again, eventually all over the world. Wherever there is a carnival there is a way!
I hope you're excited for Carnival season! In the next parts of the series, I will cover how to prep before the parade and what to do to get ready for the big day. Followed by what to expect and what to do on the day of Toronto Carnival.