Boobs, Butts & Feathers

by julesfric

I survived my first Caribbean carnival, and this is the tale.

I spent an extended weekend in Toronto for the annual Caribana Carnival. Normally I am not a fan of dancing in the streets while men try to grind on me, but I was told I get to wear a costume with lots of feathers. I was sold.

I left NYC on a Thursday night- landing in Toronto around midnight. My friend booked a really nice apartment for us to stay in. We were a group of 5- 2 beds, 2 baths, balcony, and view of the CN Tower.

The weekend was filled with lots of Tim Hortons, Uber XL’s and clubs, but the highlight was Caribana.

The ladies woke up early on Saturday morning to do hair and makeup, while the guys slept a little later. As we prepared for battle with curling irons and mascara, their “prep” work consisted of a t-shirt.

A quick guide to carnival:

Carnival consists of several bands. Each band has a theme. Within each band are sections. The sections have unique costumes which reflect the band’s theme. During the parade, the sections cross the stage to be judged. The next day, the winning band is usually announced. On the parade route there are food/drink trucks and music trucks. The music tucks are so you can dance the day away and the food/drink trucks are so you can keep the dancing going. With the exception if Caribana, carnivals serve alcohol on their trucks. Our truck had a lunch for us and mixers for our drinks- we stored Rum in waters bottles which the boys carried in their sacks. Shout out to the people on the drink trucks who were very attentive in keeping everyone hydrated!

I like to sum up my carnival experience as “Boobs, Butts & Feathers.” From an anthropological perspective, I am so grateful to have experienced something different than what I grew up with. However, Carnival is very tiring and features lots of drinking, something I usually don’t do. Would I do it again? Possibly in another city. Did I enjoy every minute of it? Absolutely!