First Toronto costume launch attracts 1,000

Carnival season in Toronto begins with Venom

More fashion show than a costume launch, the 2018 carnival season kicked off on Saturday night with a big bite of  snake venom. The Venom Carnival mas band staged the first costume launch  of the 2018  season and attracted over 1,000 paying customers, most of whom were there for the entertainment of seeing 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 a bigger hall (Chandni Grand in Scarborough), and by the time the music started we had over 1,000 people inside.”
Venom is a new band – this is year number two – and the colourful section costumes (the theme this year is Inked) and youthful design has 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 wanting to know how to buy costumes. We won over a new generation of carnival fans,” Persad told the Camera. “We had a group of 15 people in Louisiana call us tonight, wanting to pay in advance for their costumes, so that they could go on the road with Venom.”
The show on Saturday night started after midnight when Trinidad DJ Nic Peña  took to the stage.  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 that presented on Saturday.  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 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 Caribana band 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 costume for women starts at $250 ($220 for men).  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 helped us – but now the real work begins”. Venom wouldn’t have it any other way!
By Stephen Weir and Craigg Slowly for the Caribbean Camera Photographs by Craigg Slowly


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