By Stephen Weir
Candice and Dwayne Dixon have launched a new competitive Mas Band that is using 21st cutting edge technology to put a new Wow factor into the costumes their dancers will be wearing down the road. Their name is SugaCayne, and the mas band already has a costume launch location and date, five section leaders and a theme name – Liquid Courage – that comes with a double meaning.
“ Liquid Courage brings to mind something you need to give you the courage to do something you might never ever do (like putting on a mas costume and dancing down Lakeshore Blvd in the annual Toronto parade),” explains SugaCayne co-founder Dwayne Dixon. “Taking it a lot deeper, our costumes will, in part, be constructed using 3-D technology making spectacular costumes that you can’t make with just wire and glue. These 3-D created parts start off in a liquid state, and that takes some courage.”
SugaCayne Designs has made a name for itself by designing and building far-out costumes for Mas bands in Toronto and other carnival cities for almost a decade. It is a boutique operation that builds their costumes right here in Toronto.
“We bring a unique carnival design aesthetic and “mas-building” experience to local and international Caribbean carnivals,” explained Candice Dixon the other half of SugaCayne. “We have been creating intricately designed costumes in Toronto, Cayman Islands, Miami, Chicago and Trinidad.”
For the past three years the Dixons have been working in the Design Fabrication Zone (DFZ) at Ryerson University. They are focused on exploring advanced digital fabrication techniques in costume making.
Working with Ryerson technicians and student interns, SugaCayne Designs has advanced carnival arts by creating the world’s first 3D-printed and laser-cut costumes. The Dixons believe that “Liquid Courage” is infusing new energy and excitement into the secretive craft of the Carnival arts.
“Having our own Mas camp was always the plan, at least for the past four years,” said Dwayne Dixon. “We actually started off by approaching the Festival Management Committee (the people who control the annual Canadian carnival). We did go through the application process, but our proposal wasn’t seen until after their deadline. We didn’t give up — we went with Venom a new band, and had our own section.”
“We stayed with Venom, for 2 years, but after that decided to take a break. We had real trouble with spectator having to pay a fee to get in and then unable to see the parade. And there is the curse of the stormers. We pulled back and recalibrated, and now, we are ready to it give a go on our own.”
SugaCayne wants to limit itself to 300 dancers. They will be opening a Mas Camp in North Toronto and plan to have a number of costume launches, beginning on May 17th.
“We are doing the first launch slightly different that what the other Bands like to do,” said Dwayne. “It will be held in the day (rather than at night) and it will be free for the public!”
There will also be a launch held at Ryerson to get university students pumped about Caribana. At the downtown school there will be both make-up and costume contests.
Candice’s background is in fashion design and merchandising. Ten years ago she started the company and soon found her skills as a fashion designer proved useful in developing designs that resonate with masqueraders.
Four years ago she was awarded a grant from the Ontario Arts Council, and
spent just over 3 months in Trinidad and Tobago (the motherland of Carnival Arts) as a mentee, working under top designer Douglas John.
“We are going to be making costumes for all body sizes. I want to make sure that we are making costumes that every woman can be comfortable in. This is a HUGE focus. I am curvy and I know what women want. Sure we will still have bikini and feathers, but we want enough options to keep every one happy (and comfortable).”
“Dwayne and I are were both born here, our parents are Jamaican Canadian. We are younger than Caribana – we have grown up with it. Because we are Canadians we want to focus on our brand of reggae for the road, but yes we will have Soca too.”
In the first year the new band will be taking part in the King and Queen evening and the Parade. They probably won’t have a band in the Kiddies Parade in 2020. SugaCayne will be setting up a website where people can
order costumes and they plan to have costume pop-ups all around the city! Suga Mommas and Suga Daddies are invited to join in.