By Stephen Weir and Craigg Slowly
More fashion show than a costume launch, the 2018 carnival season kicked off in Scarbrough on the weekend with a big bite of Venom.
The Venom Carnival mas’ band staged the first costume launch of the season and attracted over 1,000 paying customers, most of whom were there to see what will be worn on the parade route this summer.
“ Last year we held our first launch at a club that had a capacity of 750, which we maxed out by the time the show started,” said Aneil Persad, Managing Director at Venom Carnival Inc.
“ This year we moved to this bigger hall (Chandni Grand) and by the time the music started, we had over 1,000 people inside.”
Venom is a new band – this will be its second year on the road – and the colourful section costumes (the theme this year is Inked) and youthful design have attracted first time carnival goers to their launch in huge numbers.
“ Yes, a lot of the people that bought tickets for the launch were there for the night out – the food, the liming and, of course, the show. But since Saturday we continue to get text messages and phone calls from persons wanting to know how to buy costumes. We won over a new generation of carnival fans,” Persad told the Caribbean Camera.
“A group of 15 people in Louisiana called us , wanting to pay in advance for their costumes so that they can go on the road with Venom.”
The show on the weekend started after midnight on Saturday when Trinidad DJ Nic Peña took to the stage. Then it took almost 90 minutes for the 80 models to appear on the long, well lit catwalk.
Indigo. Henna and all the colours of the rainbow were the names and themes of the 14 sections onstage. The show was gap free with well-rehearsed models who kept the sold-out crowd dancing and screaming their approval.
“ A lot of the credit for this increased interest in Venom goes to Gerard Weekes, the Toronto Carnival Parade Operations Manager. We were the last band on the road in 2017 but he ran it so well we actually were able to complete the parade and cross the line – something that hasn’t happened for the last Toronto Carnival in years. People know we are going to finish!
“ The vibe was unreal. We are not your typical mas’ camp, ” said Persad.
“ We are a year-round experience. You get a costume and you’re part of the party, long after the parade has ended.”
A basic Venom woman’s costume starts at $250 (Male costume:$220 )
Expect to pay about $800 for a frontline outfit. Once the mas’ camp opens next week and their website is fully “populated,” people can start placing their orders.
“Being the first launch of the season has really helped us – but now the real work begins. Venom wouldn’t have it any other way,” Persad remarked.