The 2019 Toronto Carnival kicked off early early last Saturday morning, or late late Friday night (take your pick) with Tribal Carnival holding the first Toronto band launch of the season. A non-stop parade of stunning looking male and female models strutted across the Grande Luxe ballroom stage to show an enthusiastic audience what people will be wearing on the road August 3rd for the annual Caribbean Carnival Parade.
Established in 2007 Tribal is one of the festival’s most successful touring Mas Bands. Tribal has not only competed successfully in Toronto’s annual festival but is also a driving force in the annual Cayman Islands’ spring Batabano Carnival.
This past weekend’s costume launch attracted an estimated crowd of 500 revellers who came out to see Tribal’s costumes and sign up to play Mas with Tribal. Band founder Dexter Seusahai stood on stage and opened the show just before midnight with a silent tribute to people who have passed away since the last carnival - Joseph and Robert Guppy and Mas photographer Donnie Moreland.
The launch was a high-energy presentation, starring some 80 beautiful well-rehearsed female models and energetic and outgoing male performers. The section names say it all. From Celena Seusahai’s Black Magic to Marsha and Hannah Baboolal’s Love Potion, they took their name and inspiration from this year’s theme of Magic.
Members of the Seusahai family head up many of the sections making this very much a Mom and Pop and Daughters operation. Dexter, Gail Chelsea and Celena Seusahai do the heavy lifting by handling marketing, costume design, logistics, and section leaders and even modelling costumes.
Celena Seusahai, the reigning 2018 Carnival Queen, was the driving force for the weekend costume launch and wore the “show-stopper” costume. Revellers may think they have seen it all, but, there was a wave of gasps of astonishment when Celena came on stage. Her costume was a combination of a green, orange and pink oval wing set, a metallic sparkling bra top with an enchantress inspired headgear. Her costume is regal but not so large that the queen can’t dance or move her arms to the music.
The costumes for the women are beautiful and with a few notable exceptions are stripped back from past carnival designs, in terms of the size of the costumes and the complexity of their design. For 2019 Tribal the feathers are being reduced opting for road March friendly designs over unwieldy bombastic statements.
As for the men, this is the summer that Real Men will wear feathers. Over a dozen heavily ripped men danced their way down the catwalk with a new look. In 2019 the men are ditching the usual basketball shorts and baseball caps in favour of wearing feathered headgears, bejewelled breastplates and carnival specific shorts.
The response to the launch was almost instantaneous – Tribal was inundated with costume requests from wanna-be paraders. These are busy times for the Seusahai family.
There will be 11 sections in Tribal this year (up from nine in 2018). The band is now one of the larger bands competing in this summer’s parade. In addition to taking part in the festivals event they will also be staging a large-scale downtown Monday July 29th costume wear fete and Lake Ontario boat ride!
“Our Mas camp address is 3401 McNicoll Ave Unit 8. It is set to open this Friday (April 5th) from 6 pm to 11pm,” said Celena Seusahai “We will be taking orders for the costumes and giving out information about our Carnival Sunday at the camp. And of course we will be heading to Grand Cayman in a couple weeks to distribute costumes and get ready for their Batabano parade!”