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!