Behind the Mask? Not much material

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Saldenah Carnival costumes really bears it all…almost

By Stephen Weir

Louis Saldenah mas
Louis Saldenah mas

Saturday night, Louis Saldenah, the force behind the Saldenah Carnival, unveiled his secret plans for what 5,000 or so masqueraders will wear on the road this August. Hoping for hot weather on parade day for the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, because behind those masks, there isn’t much costume at all! What a show it was, with sixteen sections showcasing models in skimpy carnival costumes in front of a packed hall at the Grand Cinnamon Banquet Hall (which holds 1,500 people). They wined, strutted, and posed until the wee hours of Sunday morning.

The most in-demand DJ at carnival events this spring is a man who calls himself SKF. He kicked off the stage show late Saturday night by introducing the first section of the night, Ronny (Louis’s son) Saldenah’s Alter Ego. In carnival talk, Alter Ego refers to people with split personalities or double lives.

For parade purposes, the skimpy costumes are designed to represent the dark side of those double lives, featuring dark purple, feathers, sprinkles, and not much else. The night started off with a roar from an audience who had waited all winter for this spring event.

Most of the costumes were brightly colored, and while it is a “bare and you dare” festival, all of the right parts were covered. A designer for EMERALD FIESTA rightly said that these costumes may be simple, but they can make you look stunning.

After Alter Ego, it was Dingolay, Vixen, Venus Rising, and so on. “It must have been about 3 am when I finally started to pack up,” reported our exhausted Caribbean Camera photographer Gilbert Medina. “I didn’t get home until 4 pm. But it was worth it!”

Louis Saldenah mas
Louis Saldenah mas

Louis Saldenah knows what he’s doing with his mas band. He should; he’s been an active participant in Toronto Carnival, formerly known as Caribana, for over 40 years since 1977. He and his family have been awarded the distinctive title of Band of the Year 21 times and counting.

So what’s next? The Mas Camp will be opening soon (we’ll let you know when we find out), and there are three boat cruises on Lake Ontario planned for June 3rd, August 2nd, and 5th. Tickets are already on sale!

There are only four more costume launches this season, and if Saldenah’s show was hot, a fire extinguisher may be needed for what’s coming. Next Friday, it’s Tribal’s turn at the Grande Luxe, followed by Carnival Nationz on Saturday night at the Tam Heather Curling Club on Military Trail in Scarborough.