By Stephen Weir
Tribal Carnival was out of the starting blocks early Saturday morning night with the first Toronto band launch for 2019.
A non-stop parade of stunning male and female models strutted across the Grande Luxe ballroom stage in North York to show an enthusiastic audience what revellers 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. It has not only competed successfully in Toronto’s annual Caribbean Carnival but it’s also a driving force in the annual Cayman Islands’ spring Batabano.
This past weekend’s costume launch attracted an estimated crowd of 500 revellers who came out to see the 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 Seusahal’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 launch very much a Mom and Pop and Daughters operation. Dexter, Gail, Chelsea and Celena Seusahai handle marketing, costume design and logistics and even model costumes.
Celena Seusahai, the reigning 2018 Carnival Queen, was the driving force for the weekend launch and wore the “show-stopper” costume.
Revellers may have thought they had seen it all but there were gasps of astonishment when Celena made her appearance on stage. Her costume was a combination of a green, orange and pink oval wing set and a metallic sparkling bra top with an enchantress inspired headgear. It was regal but not so large that the queen could not dance or move her arms to the music.
The women’s costumes were beautiful and with a few notable exceptions were stripped back from past carnival designs, in terms of the size and complexity. 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 feathered headgears, bejeweled breastplates and carnival specific shorts.
Response to the launch was overwhelming. Tribal was inundated with costume requests from wanna-be paraders. These are busy times for the Seusahai family.
There will be eleven sections in Tribal this year (up from nine in 2018). The band is now one of the larger bands which will be competing in this summer’s parade. In addition to taking part in the festival event, it will 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 in Scarborough. It is set to open this Friday (April 5th) from 6 p.m. to 11p.m.,” 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.”