August 9, 2007 - Volume 1, No. 7
As the summer moves
along I decided to visit the new Toronto Caribana. I
joined the Brooklyn bus ride and traveled to Toronto
to take in the carnival scene. The trip took about
12 hours. There were four buses which were scheduled
to leave at 11:30 pm Thursday night but did not
leave Brooklyn until about 1:00 am. I don’t know why
bus trips leave late. It must be traditional. Even
boat rides suffer from the same malady.
Our first stop was to get something to eat. Well,
the diner did not cater for four buses so it mayhem.
Lines round the corner. After one hour the bus
driver decided that it was time to go because he had
a schedule to keep and we were behind time. We next
stopped at Niagara Falls for an hour because the
cultured folks wanted to see one of nature’s best
scenes. The falls sure are a beauty to behold. So
much water it is amazing. Back on the bus it was
music time with Bolo and I beating iron and the Soca
jamming. The next stop was the border. That was
where the bacchanal started. Two people on bus three
or four did not have their papers. So, the bus had
to take them back to New York. It was funny.
We got into downtown Toronto around 4:00 pm Friday
morning and everyone got off at the hotel where many
were planning to stay. I was being picked up by my
friend Selwyn. I walked around for an hour to see
if things had changed much in my old home town. When
Selwyn arrived he greeted me with hugs and laughter.
We got into the car and it was pan music galore.
Selwyn was City Syncopators Steel Orchestra’s pan
soloist at the 1966 Steelband Music Festival. He is
trying to get his groove back together so listening
to pan was primary. We exchanged tastes and talked
about the good times. We then stopped for a roti and
sweet drink at the local restaurant. Soon it was
time to prepare for the Panorama which was scheduled
for 8:00 pm that night.
The Panorama was held at Lamport stadium. I was
shocked because the bands played two songs a piece.
There were 12 steelbands competing. Each band played
a calypso and their bomb tune. I would not call that
Panorama. They called it “Pan Alive”. Since the
steelband competition was held in the stadium the
bands were far away from the audience. I don’t know
whose idea that was but it created a wide separation
between the panjumbies and the bands. Because the
bands were so far away and all had canopies I could
not see the players properly. There was one large
speaker where the music came through. So, when I
thought a band was playing it was another band. I
suggest that the organizers of “Pan Alive” build a
stage for the steelbands.
Saturday morning was the Caribana parade. All the
steelbands came out to play their calypso tune.
For my money, Afropan was the best playing band on the
road. That band is led by Earl La Pierre who
wonderful arrangement of “Band from Space.”
Pan Masters was another good playing band.
played “Band from Space.” The Mas was very beautiful.
The costumes were larger than Brooklyn’s costumes.
The Mas bands had lots of masqueraders. And, they
were very young.
All of the Mas bands were
integrated. There were Africans, Asians, Whites and
I saw many interracial young couples. More
that I have seen in New York. It was truly amazing.
There were many police officers providing security.
The police were civil and patient. At one time I
went outside the fence and left my friends inside.
My friends decided to stay inside. I went up to a
policeman and showed my New York ID and told him
that my friends were inside and I wanted to get back
He went to my friends and asked them if
they knew me. The said yes and he beckoned me to
enter. Wonderful! I thought about New York
labor-day’s police. Never happen there! My only
was the fact that there were not
enough toilets and the few they had were far apart.
when I entered one it was super clean. No paper
on the ground. The bowls were immaculately
white. I was impressed.
Saturday night my friends and I went to see Machel
Montano and Destra at the stadium. Machel is a great
entertainer. Machel held the audience throughout the
show. He is a born showman. I compliment the City of
Toronto for their full support of the Caribana.
Unlike New York carnival the non Caribbean Canadians
participate fully in the festival. All the Mas bands
were fully integrated. They could teach New York a
thing or two. But, New York still has the best
Panorama and jouvert. I look forward to next year’s
P.S. If readers don’t understand any of the
carnival or steelband terms used here, please go
Port of Pan ABC at pan-jumbie-com.
Otherwise you may contact this writer. Thanks