MAS.IV Meetup Creates Interactive Space for Progressive Caribbean Carnival Conversation

If you're a Caribbean Carnival enthusiast, and someone who is invested in the future of the tradition, the emergence of Toronto-based platform @THEMAS.IV is something that will definitely excite you. The new social media-based movement "aims to connect and shine a spotlight on creatives within carnival" with a focus on four (IV) areas: Mas, Muse, Movement, and Music.

Founder Yinx Macaulay has been a part of an all-female media team @TheCollaboVibe in Toronto, for nearly a decade. Known for their timely and professional coverage of Toronto band launches and other carnival-related activities, the group has established themselves as a reliable and essential element of the carnival communication experience in Toronto.

Yinx Macaulay
"As a long time masquerader, I have a genuine admiration of the creative minds and bodies that bring mas to life," said Yinx. "I am also intrigued by the global movement of carnival, with respect to innovations and influencers that propel carnival to scale. This was the catalyst that led me to create MAS.IV."

Yinx's interests influenced her insight into the potential opportunities available within carnival, and the MAS.IV emerged as a refreshing take on the carnival experience and a necessary piece of the carnival system-at-large.

Studying the creatives within the carnival industry, Yinx is using the MAS.IV as a conduit for discussion, change, and to celebrate the various individuals behind the international phenomenon of carnival. Also using other islands as a guide, Yinx and the MAS.IV will build a platform to study, listen, and fill in the gaps that exist in the carnival infrastructure overall.

"My personal journey as a creative within carnival began nine years ago, when I started a blog known as The Collabo. Teaming up with peers and fellow creatives, Candy and KC, as an all-female media team, the blog evolved into The Collabo Vibe--a trusted source for band launch coverage in Toronto," said Yink. "My aspiration is for MAS.IV to be a platform that connects you to the creative community in a meaningful and impactful way."

With MAS.IV focusing on the creatives in mas, they hope to continue to celebrate the art of carnival not only through visuals, but also through features, discussions, events, and other cultural displays.

On Saturday, June 1, the MAS.IV hosted their first official "Meetup" in Scarborough, Ontario (eastern Toronto) with the intention of "creating and curating a space for people to connect and contribute their thoughts on the movement of carnival."

Four discussions were facilitated with special guest panelists representing each stream of mas. The MUSE panel representing the carnival models; the MAS panel featuring designers and event managers; the MOVEMENT panel highlighting carnival dancers; and the MUSIC panel featuring soca artists and DJs.

"Bringing together diverse and collective voices" with the intimate and interactive engagement, the special panelists and invited community guests "discussed all things carnival from the band launch season to trends noted within the local and international context."

It was great to see the group of Toronto's dedicated carnivalists present at the Meetup to provide thoughts on their roles within the carnival system, and also to provide feedback and insight on how to improve the carnival experience.

Representing the physical MUSE of carnival, models, dancers, and fitness enthusiasts @CarnivalBae and @MuzikJo agreed that the Toronto band launches overall were well executed due to the addition of formal choreography and the representation of models of various sizes and skin tones. Improvements were based on the ways in which costumes were modelled, with the speakers suggesting that models focus on selling the costume rather than selling their bodies. It was also suggested that models continue to pay special attention to highlighting the costume features...and not necessarily the individual models and their personal style, movements, or brands.

@myinxy and @CarnivalBae
@MuzikJo developed a love for being on stage and helping designers and section leaders sell their costumes, after arriving in Toronto from Trinidad almost ten years ago. She expressed her love for the energy of the band launch productions, and also the backstage camaraderie with the models and production team. Also around 2010, @CarnivalBae began her modelling journey after approaching the various band leaders in Toronto via email and requesting to be a part of their presentations. For both ladies, the experiences are rewarding, enjoyable, and an important part of the carnival process.

Their recommendations for Toronto carnival band launches moving forward: an improvement in the overall organization and preparation of models, in addition to reevaluating the care for the models and improving the professionalism of their treatment (contracts, backstage process, compensation, etc.). Also suggested: using exclusive models for particular bands to help reconstruct individual band identity, loyalty, and renew the sense of pride the models exhibit during performances.

Toronto Carnival was commended for incorporating a range of ethnicities and body sizes within the band launch, in comparison to other cities. The panelists stressed that the typical carnival industry standard of "fair skin and long hair" is not necessarily the best default for all participants, as costumes will present and fit differently on each unique masquerader.

Expert MAS contributions from designer @KyleGervacy and event manager @FloKing stressed the importance of trying new concepts, colour combinations, and innovative ideals with design and production so that each carnival band or costume can have its own vibe. Since each band is committed to a particular theme for the year, the aesthetic importance of sticking to the theme was also reinforced. "Why choose themes that you don't follow at all?" @KyleGervacy asked, suggesting that each band work creatively to find their niche and what makes their particular team special.

@myinxy @kylegervacy & @floking
Another concept that was appreciated: the one night band launch that takes place for Bermuda's annual carnival, where all bands present their costumes on the same date at the same location. Rather than competing for crowds and having each band only present to their loyal supporters, this option was praised as an opportunity for inclusiveness and unity, and also an opportunity to see just how unique each band truly is. @FloKing spoke about her experience with event planning and logistics, stressing the importance of organization, meeting deadlines, and communication within the process from band launch to parade day to help new concepts and processes flow, and to ensure that everyone has an optimal experience.

Featured speakers on the MUSIC panel @StickyWow and @Tantie_Maxx_Xeenn spoke extensively about their love for soca music, and the impact of their families and surroundings on how they celebrated and embraced the genre.

@StickyWow was the first Canadian finalist in the 2019 Soca Monarch competition, a great personal--and national--accomplishment, since there are few very Canadian soca artists currently in the forefront of soca music. A challenge: being an outsider. He noted that as a Canadian soca artist he is an outsider well as an outsider in Trinidad, despite being a descendant of Trinidadian parents. His platform @SocaInTheSix was created to promote and celebrate the joy of soca music in Toronto through events and participants. "Soca music has the best vibes," he said confidently.

@Tantie_Maxx_Xeenn @StickyWow
"With soca, the riddim is sweet, and people dance to everything," DJ @Tantie_Maxx_Xeenn added. When it comes to music, issues of tradition versus content were explored, from calypsonians in musical contests, to soca DJs and artists in the current fete environment. Both panelists agreed that people love bacchanal and excitement in soca lyrics, and also expect to just have fun with the music. While it is less political in nature than the calypsonian lyrics of previous generations, it was noted that there is still a popular element of clever word play and double entendre within the musical culture.

Recommended ways to improve the integration of music with Toronto Carnival in particular? It was suggested that the mixes on the road could be more creative with less repetition, and featuring the incorporation of hits from the past as well as current staples. An increased element of risk taking would help in this matter.

Overall, as DJs and performers, they felt that the relatively small Canadian community of musicians needed to work as a collective to keep the industry progressive, and also stated with great pride that the soca music industry (although often underrated) did not have to prove their culture or preferences to anyone on the "outside" (for example, international awards or iTunes categories). While soca music recognition isn't necessarily wide-scale, the panelists and attendees were in agreement that the speciality genre is dear to their hearts, and that soca music fans have the luxury of choosing how they can integrate it into their own lives regardless of popular opinion.

@SimplyShakera and @TheRealMissKerr were featured on the MOVEMENT panel, and provided a recap of the band launch presentations in Toronto for the 2019 season from a dance perspective. They agreed that there was increased evidence of choreography--adding to the presentations--and that many of the bands had a more "finished" look as a result.

"The world is seeing their mas move," @SimplyShakera noted, pointing out that the models always have to be cognisant of showcasing the costumes in the best light possible. Highlighting themes through movement, and doing "more than just walking and posing" were her general recommendations.

@TheRealMissKerr added that bringing attention to the costume details were essential for sales, as are elements like effective lighting and staging, that contribute to a great concept experience.
"Hire professionals to do what they're good at," she encouraged.

Their general recommendations: to reclaim our carnival and turn it back into a parade with exquisite presentation and theme at its core. This can be accomplished through building up layers, roles, investors, and the use of social media to work together to ensure that the "torch" of carnival in Toronto remains lit and progressive.

During the open forum segment of the afternoon, a Q&A session allowed audience members and panelists to brainstorm and discuss their carnival passions, with results-driven recommendations. Overall, an increase in collaboration between carnival elders and younger participants was stressed. Allowing contributions from the various creatives, professionals, and from different generations would help to diversify the carnival products and also strengthen the community as a whole. Everyone has a role to play, and showing respect for the roles and the work put into them was a shared perspective.

The event was uplifting, and Yinx was a gracious host and informed commentator. It was the first official MAS.IV Meetup, and one of many exciting events and initiative that this platform is prepared to offer to carnival enthusiasts here in Toronto, and globally.

Yinx is currently completing a program in community engagement, leadership, and community development, and values the collaboration required to think and address deep rooted issues and problems that require collaborative leadership. She considers herself a professional brainstorm/dreamer, and is always thinking, observing and curious to understand the world and where things are doing.

"I am very skilled and dedicated to those ideas and passions into something tangible," said Yinx, a strategist by nature. We look forward to continuing to witness how she integrates the strengths of MAS.IV and the inevitable benefits that will manifest within our beloved Toronto Carnival.

The MAS.IV invites guests to keep the conversation going using the event-specific hashtag #MASIVMOVEMENT, and to connect with them online for continued sharing and innovating in carnival.

A full video recap will be provided from the MAS.IV; connect with them online for updates and release at:

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.


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