Tag Archives: carnival

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Recap: The Big Birthday

Now that it’s May, I can look back at my most recent birthday, which was in early March.

Allow me to explain.

My birthday is on the 3rd, which means my champagne birthday happened when I was 3 and barely knew what “birthday” meant. Womp. Other significant birthdays ranged from very good (Sweet 16) to verrrry stressful (Quarter-Century), and overall the birthday to beat was March 3rd, 2014 (spent living it up in Dubai, shopping and fly boarding and going up the tallest building in the world). For my reverse champagne birthday (someone else can think of a cool name for it) I decided to go all out, celebrating 3 decades of life in 3 different countries over a span of 3 months.

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I already had my ticket for Trinidad Carnival, so I kicked off the celebrations there and you can read all about it in my last post.  I came back home and danced the night away at a fete with a few of my girlfriends, then released the trailer for my new webseries-to-be and released a radio single. I celebrated my actual birthday by leaving work early to go to 2 auditions before taking myself shopping.

Almost showtime!

Almost showtime!

The birthday fell on a Thursday; that weekend I got to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre perform with the added bonus of watching it with my little cousin. This was our first show together! And she’s the same age I was when our Grandma took me to my first concert, which I think is awesome. There was a family dinner after that, and then I went to my curlfriend Nicole Stamp’s place to learn how to work natural hair magic like she does. I’ve been in love with my hair ever since. I got to show off my curls the next day at a delicious and hilarious brunch with a bunch of friends and cousins.

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Harlem Underground

Harlem Underground

The next weekend I was reshooting sections of my Digital Dossier, and then I had new headshots taken by Denise Grant. It did rain that day, which ruined my plans for my hair, but MUA Christine Cho waved her magic wand and the pictures look pretty damn good in my opinion ;-)

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I almost ran out of time to squeeze in my third country, but in April I went to New York City (where I hadn’t been since 2012, and where I definitely need to be more often). Just looking at Manhattan, or walking up and down the streets there, feels like celebrating to me. Even better that I got to spend time with friends I hadn’t seen in years. And I got some good buys in on the way home, tee-hee!

Haven't "seen" her since she was in her mom's belly!

Haven’t “seen” her since she was in her mom’s belly!

So I did it: celebrated in 3 countries, between the beginning of February and the end of April, and the good times keep rolling. Other things have added to my birthday celebrations over the 3-month time period: I left my day job, auditions have picked up, I’ve booked a play in Peterborough and one in Toronto for this summer, and I’m leaving for Haiti in a week!

Happy Birthday to me, and Dirty Thirty is looking exquisite so far . . .

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Looking back at my first Carnival . . . (Trinidad 2016)

First things first: I don’t publish new blog posts here as often as I should. And this one probably should have been finished and shared sooner, but I was of two minds about whether to blog about the whole trip or just certain parts of it . . . and if only certain parts, which ones to leave out . . . and what was a reasonable amount of pictures to share . . . until finally I decided. Here’s one big chunky post about my 20 days in paradise, and (as always) you can read all, skip some, and/or visit my Instagram page for a super-quick photo recap if you’re short on time.

My Aunt Ruth and Uncle Clive (i.e. the best hosts EVER), and fellow first-time Carnival visitor Wyvolyn, from Jamaica

My Aunt Ruth and Uncle Clive (i.e. the best hosts EVER), and fellow first-time Carnival visitor Wyvolyn, from Jamaica

As some of you know, my father is Trinidadian by birth. This was actually only my second trip to the twin islands of Trinidad & Tobago, and although I’m an avid Caribana girl, this was my first Trinidad Carnival. I’ve spent years hearing about how T&T does it much better than we do here in Toronto, and of course I was excited to see for myself what it was like, stuff myself with delicious food, bake myself in the sun, and spend lots of time with family members I don’t see very often. I worked out a plan to budget for this escapade starting around the time of my last birthday (early March). This trip wasn’t cheap! It would’ve been easier if the Canadian dollar weren’t so dismal, or if this year’s Carnival season wasn’t so short (note: for 2017 it’s at the end of February instead of the beginning), and many friends and relatives who were originally planning to come decided not to, but I went for it anyway.

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I basically spent my first few days sleeping in, sunning myself and eating my aunt’s delicious food, and my first nights being taken out by one or another of my local friends. Sidebar: I wish upon every person in the world a host as gracious and generous as my aunt and uncle, who gave me a room of my own, copied a set of keys for me, were always ready with advice and answers to my questions, and basically let me do as I please as long as I came back to the house to eat once in awhile. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

O2 Stadium, where Tuesday on the Rocks was held

O2 Stadium, where Tuesday on the Rocks was held

My first big outing was Tuesday on the Rocks. I adore Kes the Band so I was determined to get to this show, even though it was far away and I had no for-sure way to get there or back and I was going alone. After many frustrating interactions with would-be drivers and would-be companions, I can look back and say it was one of the best nights I had in Trinidad. KTB and their many musical guests put on a great show, I made a friend or two, and I was able to eat some legit Montreal poutine too!

With the homie Raff at Scorch DDI

With the homie Raff at Scorch DDI

Next up was a boat ride. Getting to the Harbour Master by myself from Arouca was a bit of a challenge (the second maxi taxi ride was challenging), but the Scorch DDI boat ride was worth it. Found an old friend, made some new ones, jammed to some sweet music while sailing “down de islands” on a big-ass boat, wearing a bikini in early February . . . it was a good time even though we left and returned to the dock late, which almost messed up my family’s plans for the night. My aunt and uncle and their friend (who was visiting from Jamaica to take in her first Carnival too) and I went to see traditional mas, where masqueraders portray certain historical characters, competing for their titles before a panel of judges, and often incorporating some form of social commentary into their performances.

Moko jumbies =)

Moko jumbies =)

It was important for me to get a taste of the culture behind Carnival, instead of just back-to-back-to-back parties. This may be stating the obvious, but I also went to the beach (ahhhh Maracas, one of my favourite places in the world) and spent hours lounging in the sun and reading.

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Plus I did some other random things, like trying a couple of hot yoga classes and visiting and ashram and the Temple in the Sea, going into the city for one of the Kiddie Carnival parades, and getting up before 4am to go see the street theatre re-enactment of the 1881 Canboulay Riots. (No pictures, because even though we got there around 5:15am, all the seats with views were already gone!)

First yoga class!

First yoga class!

Baby moko jumbies!

Baby moko jumbies!

But don’t worry, I partied plenty! My favourite event was Bess Lime, which I was so glad to have my Toronto friends Kerron and Tiffany come to with me.

Tiff, Kerron and me!

Tiff, Kerron and me!

Before the boat sailed...

Before the boat sailed…

This was a Sunday cooler fete on the water where 3 boats were filled, sailed separately down the islands a bit, then dropped anchor and linked up so you could switch boats with the DJ’s music synched.  The sun went down, the vibe was wicked, there was a fireworks display before we sailed back to the dock separately — and for only $300 TT (about $63 Canadian, and this party included food plus chasers and ice) the value was amazing.

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I did get a few hours of sleep after finally getting home from Bess Lime, and then it was J’ouvert. Tiff and Kerron and I got picked up at something like 2am (budget extra time because of all the roadblocks) and met up with our Yellow Devilz crew at 4am, then partied through the darkened streets of the city dashing paint and water around until 8 or 9am.

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My awesome aunt Giselle brought me to her place to shower and change, then dropped me off so I could meet up with my band and do Monday mas.

My Monday wear

My Monday wear

Full disclosure – I found Monday mas kind of boring and disorganized.

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It felt kind of like a practice run for Tuesday, except most people weren’t in costume, which made it basically a huge mobile street party . . . which is cool, I guess, but I was pretty unimpressed by the time I got home that evening.

Drivahhhh! Doh stop atall . . .

Drivahhhh! Doh stop atall . . .

"Get in yuh section!"

“Get in yuh section!”

But of course the excitement came back when I got up before 4 on Tuesday morning to put on my glorious costume, get picked up at 5:30 (my driver is the bomb, you guys) so I could be on time to meet my band (actually early, since I had such an interesting time finding them the day before when I arrived late). Tuesday mas was everything I’d hoped for.

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Good morning, Machel =)

Good morning, Machel =)

Frontline. Can I get a corporate sponsor next year?

Frontline. Can I get a corporate sponsor next year?

There may be fewer men, but don't count them out!!

There may be fewer men, but don’t count them out!!

This would be a good time to compare a few notes. You can believe the hype: Trinidad Carnival is, in most ways, superior to Toronto’s Caribana. You pay WAY more in Trinidad (even taking into account that you have two parade days instead of one) but far more is included *if* you’re with one of the well-organized bands (not just a gorgeous costume and great DJs and unlimited alcohol, but nuff staff and nuff security and 3 meals over the 2 days and shaded rest areas in the Savannah at lunchtime). You can play with a monstrously large band in Trinidad, if that’s your thing (like, 15,000 masqueraders), whereas in Toronto I think we tap out at about 3,000 masqueraders in a large band. Both have celebrity guests, life-giving music, DJs who tend to talk too damn much over the microphone, a super-high ratio of women to men, locals, tourists, first-timers, veterans, well-meaning stormers, and the feeling that you’re living it up in this very moment so every other moment is inconsequential. (Come on, I know I’m not the only one who feels like that when I’m playing mas; that’s why we’re called “revellers!” A lie?!)

Two of my favourite Fantasy sections this year: Dolce Vita (the ladies on either side of me) and my section, Ashwiyaa

Two of my favourite Fantasy sections this year: Dolce Vita (the ladies on either side of me) and my section, Ashwiyaa

Spotted . . . right after crossing the stage

Spotted . . . right after crossing the stage

#allahwe

#allahwe

There are things I prefer about Caribana though. I prefer to run into tons of people I know in addition to meeting lots of new sexy friends. I like knowing exactly what the parade route is, and knowing exactly what the order of the bands is. I like not having any bands who are so unmanageably huge that they go off somewhere else so as not to interfere with the other bands. I like having only one stage, at the beginning of the parade route (Toronto, can we please go back to that???), and I like being asked by tourists and press people and amateur photographers for photos all day long . . . it seemed like there was a lot less of that for Carnival since they all had exponentially more people to photograph than they would’ve at Caribana. (I like living within walking distance from the parade too, but that’s not Trinidad’s fault!)

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Anyway, my heart was full by the time night fell and a new friend helped me through the mobs of people along the Avenue to meet up with my driver and Kerron and Tiff. The two of them had invited me on a hike excursion the following morning but I’d opted out, since I figured my feet would hurt or I’d be tired. On Ash Wednesday I actually woke up fresh as a daisy, but too late to join them, so after aborted plans to go to the beach and a pool party I napped and then stuffed myself at a dinner party my aunt and uncle and their friend were hosting. While everyone else was flying back home and/or getting back into their work routine, I spent a lot of time with family, including a chartered boat ride to Nelson Island for a great lunch event put on by the African Women’s Association.

Josiah thought he could get away without taking me for a ride on his bike . . . silly cousin!

Josiah thought he could get away without taking me for a ride on his bike . . . silly cousin!

Me and my Aunt Gigi!!

Me and my Aunt Gigi!!

Rock Island, from Nelson Island

Rock Island, from Nelson Island

Nelson Island. Which maybe should be called Rock Island.

Nelson Island. Which maybe should be called Rock Island.

with Uncle Wayne and Aunty Yvette

with Uncle Wayne and Aunty Yvette

Cousin Dominic!

Cousin Dominic!

Tristan and Anya <3

Tristan and Anya <3

Even after almost 3 weeks, I wasn’t ready to come home. Even after a week back at home, I’m picturing myself in Trinidad and planning to bring a bunch of friends with me next time.

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Under 2000 words? Not bad . . . because I could literally fill books with my memories from this trip. But I hope you got a taste of it here on my little blog, and if you want to join me for pretty much any Carnival anywhere in the world (I’m now itching not only to do Trinidad Carnival regularly but to check out Notting Hill Carnival, Brazil Carnival, Bermuda Carnival, Jamaica Carnival, Hollywood Carnival . . . ), drop me a line!

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xoxoxo

TIFF2015redcarpet

10 Goals, 12 Months – My Year-End Blog

So I’m back to the blog – and before I write anything else, let me alert you that this here post will make more sense if you’ve seen that there one first.

July seems like a crazy long time ago! But if you know me, you know I had to check back in on the aforementioned goals before closing out the year.

Remember, 2 out of my 10 goals for 2015 had already been completed by July 2nd: returning to Haïti with Third World Awareness for their 2015 trip, and being a model in the Carnival Nationz band launch.

1 out of the remaining 8 goals was already a Nope, since I did not make it to Las Vegas in May.

Now, what about the remaining 7?

I said I would book and complete at least 6 singing gigs this year; I’d done a handful by July 2nd, but 1 of them was unpaid; by now I’ve done 6 paid engagements.

Me with Jerome, one of my (singing) partners in crime who I met this year!

Me with Jerome, one of my (singing) partners in crime who I met this year!

Out of the 4 acting gigs I decided to book and complete this year, 1 was completed by the midway point . . . and although I’ve had auditions and callbacks since then, I haven’t actually booked any others. (Yet.)

How about those lofty financial goals? Will I celebrate my birthday by having zero remaining debt and playing mas in Trinidad Carnival? HELL YEAH!!! I’m officially debt-free, having eliminated more than $21,000 worth of debt in just under 3 years; I’ve already bought my plane ticket and I’m playing mas too! Stay tuned to my Instagram account for nufffff pictures…

Salamander, one of my early faves

Salamander, one of my early faves

My trip to New York? My friends bailed on me and I didn’t go.

My road trip? I didn’t organize anything in time; but there’s always next year.

My reintroduction into the world of dating? Well yeah, actually, that did happen. Next question =)

#datenight

#datenight

Re-qualifying for the first promotion of my network marketing business? Nope, I didn’t hit that goal. Keep nudging me for 2016, okay?

 

The final tally? 5 out of 10 of my 2015 goals were completed in 2015.

50%.

Half.

I’m not sure if that’s good or bad . . . if I got a 50% grade on any course I took I’d be furious about it . . . but then again, the point of personal goal-setting is to go big or go home. Right?

 

Anyway, time to take a look at the year ahead and figure out what I’ll be getting up to next. ;-)

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… unless I manage to complete another one in the next 5 days … hey, anything’s possible!

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Midway Blog – 2015

July 2nd marks the midway point of a 365-day year.

I always have multiple achievements in progress, both long-term and short-term, in multiple areas of my life. This year I selected 10 specific ones to reach by year’s end and 10 more to achieve within the next 10 years, and since we’re halfway done 2015 I figured it was time for a quick check-in…

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2 of my Goals for 2015 have been successfully completed.

I returned to Haïti with Third World Awareness; and I modelled in the Carnival Nationz band launch for 2015.

Ayiti cherie!

Ayiti cherie!

Finally!

#finally

 

 7 of my Goals for 2015 are Works In Process. Specifically . . .

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3 Goals are In Process – Stage 3 (the work has started, but isn’t complete yet):

I said I was going to book and complete at least 6 singing gigs this year; I’ve done 5.

Many of my performances so far this year have been with the wonderful, beautiful Sunset Service Choir.

Many of those performances have been with the wonderful, beautiful Sunset Service Choir.

I said I was going to book and complete at least 4 acting gigs; I’ve done 1.

The stage. Sonnets for an Old Century was my first acting gig of the year.

The stage. Sonnets for an Old Century was my first acting gig of the year.

I said I’m going to celebrate my next birthday by being debt-free and playing mas in T&T Carnival 2016; in terms of saving up money and securing accommodations, I’m on track and on schedule.

hopefully with my cousin Kari!

hopefully with my cousin Kari!

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3 Goals are In Process – Stage 2 (the planning is underway):

I said I was going to take at least 1 trip to New York . . . it looks like it’ll happen in August.

I said I was going to take at least 1 road trip (probably to New York, if I’m being honest) . . . so if New York in August happens and I don’t fly there, that’ll be two goals crossed off with one stroke of the pen.

I said I was going to start dating again *gasp!* I decided it was time to reboot my non-platonic social life, and since I don’t want to jinx anything, let’s just say it’s looking like it’ll be a fun summer =)

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1 Goal is In Process – Stage 1 (I need to get on it):
I said I was going to promote to the first level of management with my network marketing business . . .I’ll be re-qualifying this month!

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Finally, there is one goal I set for this year that I know I’ve missed: an event in Las Vegas in April which I wanted to attend and ultimately chose not to, in keeping with the achievement of my next-birthday-related goal listed above.

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And as for my next-ten-years list? More than half are already works in progress.  :)

Cheers!

Cheers!

school of Mandarin Fish

TOP 10 CARIBANA COSTUMES

I first played mas in the Caribana parade in 2005, so this was my tenth anniversary year, and the explosion of Caribana-themed #tbt pics on Instagram this summer (even though calling something a throwback when it’s from two weeks ago is my newest online pet peeve) inspired me to rank my costumes so far. I’ve worn more than 10 Caribana/Carnival costumes, when you factor in things like band launches and promo events, but these are costumes that are (or were) mine.

There was some stiff competition . . . so let’s start at the bottom . . .

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1. 2005 — NAME UNKNOWN

I legit don’t remember the name of the first section I played in, and I didn’t even get any good pictures of me in costume that year. My section was super-disorganized, and there’s no need for me to name the band because karma.

I think that's me! Off to the right, obviously . . .

I think that’s me! Off to the right, obviously . . .

Next.

 

2. 2007 — FIRE DANCER

Fortunately my less-than-stellar experience the first time around didn’t discourage me, and by 2007 I was not only still playing mas, I was even *gasp* picking my own costume!

Not a fan of this headpiece.

This was the first year I got the costume I wanted the most, instead of going along with cousins who were also in the parade (they played Sexy Clown and Lion Tamer). Carnival Nationz had a circus theme this year, and my Fire Dancer outfit was kinda hot!

 

3. 2010 — NAME FORGOTTEN

The only year aside from 2005 in which I did not play with Nationz was 2010. I don’t remember the theme, and if I was forced to guess I’d say the name of my section was Harmony (?), but this was a smaller band and I realized that I really like the big-huge-band-here-we-come experience much better.

DSC04404However, wearing all white was a lot of fun, and the bum feathers on the back of this costume gave me life.

 

4. 2014 — COHIBA

Bum feathers would have pushed this costume a little higher up on the scale, but I definitely felt like a bronze goddess in it! This year’s costume, Cohiba, from Nationz’s “Havana” theme.

CohibaThe bra was super-duper comfortable, which was a nice surprise; I wasn’t blown away by the belt, though. I did love the body chain, which I ordered from China while in Dubai because I was so excited that I’d be back home for jump-up. =) (Unfortunately, after two days of wearing said chain in summer weather, one strand broke, the colour rubbed off and my neck and underarms got bumpy and itchy. Please, folks, be careful what you order online.)

 

5. 2008 — SEXTANT HORIZON

My single most enduring memory of the 2008 Caribana parade is being pelted with the angriest rain I’ve ever felt in my life, just before and while we were crossing the stage to be judged. But as our section leader Shawna said, smiling through the rain, “You can’t stop the sun!”

jump-up 046The joke is, the sun came out just AFTER we crossed the stage, drenched and freezing and with pieces of costumes falling off. Maybe our theme, “Pirates,” had conjured up some kind of sea storm on land. The belt, one of my fave things about this costume (simple yet elegant and with coverage), remained unscathed.

 

6. 2006 — XBALANQUE (MEXICO)

This was my first time playing mas with Carnival Nationz, and their theme was “La Copa Mundial” (the World Cup), presumably since Trinidad & Tobago were competing and Caribbeans all around the world were extra excited for them.

Wearing the 2006 costume in 2013 for a Toronto SUN photoshoot =)

wearing the 2006 costume in 2013 for a Toronto SUN photoshoot =)

I would’ve been happy wearing this or the Spain section, since both were unique and beautiful, but I had a ball in this. All day long people were stopping my cousins and I to ask us “who made that costume?” Denise Chang Kit, thank you very much =)

 

7. 2009 — BUTTERFLY

This was the year Nationz chose the theme “In Full Bloom,” and there were lots of beautiful costumes to choose from. I decided to be extra and chose one that didn’t even have a section.

with my cousin Kari!

with my cousin Kari!

This was a heartbreaker because my Butterfly costume was incomplete — I had no wings. The wings weren’t made, or the wings weren’t fixed, or the wings were left at the camp — whatever the reason, I was one unhappy loyalty masquerader. I ended up crossing the stage with the Water Lily section and endured many curious stares as people wondered whether I’d made my own costume at home and then tried to sneak in. It was really pretty, and I liked the one-piece, but . . . sigh . . .

 

8. 2012 — SHANG DYNASTY

Another Denise Chang Kit original. The theme this year was “Empires.” I’d never liked the idea of playing mas in black, but a wicked costume is a wicked costume! And the embellished piece between the bra and the panty was worth every penny at $20.

_MG_6986I felt ridiculously sexy in this outfit.

 

9. 2011 — MERMAID

The theme for Nationz this year was “Mythical Creatures.” This headpiece gave me life and it still does! Yes, the costume is pretty, and yes, I loved the cute little jingling noises it made — but really, we all went nuts over the oversized feather mohawk in aqua blue and deep purple.

Mermaid full-bodyMind you it hurt . . . my girls and I wore Dr Scholls strips on our foreheads and even with that I had to wad up some toilet paper . . . I felt the dent in my head for the rest of the weekend. But COME ON! Definitely an all-time fave.

 

10. 2013 — MANDARIN FISH

There will always be a place in my heart for a bra which is bejewelled within an inch of its life, an unconventionally shaped headpiece, surprising pops of colour, and a set of style-em-yourself body chains. So this costume wins it all. Hands down.

DSC07147 croppedI remember how excited I got when the 2013 theme was announced. “The Reef,” oh man! It’s like Finding Nemo with a soca soundtrack!! Of course the costumes were going to be breathtaking and gorgeous!!! And while I’m still not sure how we came in second place that year, this costume is absolutely my favourite one.

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Will it be topped in 2015? I guess time will tell . . .

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10 MARKERS OF A REALLY GOOD PARTY … OR A REALLY BAD ONE

 

Caribana weekend has come and gone and I refuse to dedicate this month’s Top Ten Tuesday to the mess that was the Grand Parade . . . partially because everyone else is blogging about it right now . . . and partially because I’d rather focus on positives than negatives.

However, various events from this weekend have led me to spend some time thinking about the best and worst parties I’ve attended, many of them occurring on a jump-up weekend in the past, and what sets apart the great from the good, and the bad from the truly terrible. See if you agree with any/all of these.

 

1. WHO YOU’RE WITH

I mean really. You can have an amazing time in a condemned haunted house if the company you’re keeping is cool; yet if you’re invited as a VIP guest to some awesome soirée but you don’t like the crowd, you’ll probably be wishing you were somewhere else.

Party people!

Party people!

Everybody’s got those friends who they would go anywhere with. Keep them at the top of your invite list.

 

2. WHERE YOU ARE

Even with the important “who” detail out of the way, the “where” is still important. Some people love clubs, while some of us are getting really tired of them. Some people love pool parties, while some people don’t want to spend an entire afternoon being afraid of getting wet.

Good peoples, plus a party on a boat?  #yup!

Good peoples, plus a party on a boat? #yup!

Know your preference.

 

3. YOUR PURPOSE

You left your place and got dressed up (maybe; see #5) for a reason; that reason has to be in line with the party you’re going to! Example: I’ll get excited to go to a fête, but not to a bar. I don’t particularly like drinking, but I love soca, so that choice is obvious for me.

Our purpose was CRYSTAL CLEAR!

Our purpose was CRYSTAL CLEAR!

One of the best parties I can remember being at was a 90s jam at the Ram in the Rye, back when I was a student at Ryerson. DJ Starting from Scratch cemented his status as my favourite DJ (and reaffirmed it in #7) by playing nothing but 90s music. If I’d gone out hoping to do anything BUT dance to all those old-school jams, I would’ve been in the corner with a sour face.

 

4. YOUR TRIP THERE AND BACK

Ever get to a party exhausted because it was such a struggle to find parking, or you got lost, or something like that? Instant loss of fun points. This is why I stick to downtown events where, worst comes to worst, I can probably take a taxi or a streetcar there and back again. If you do like drinking, you’ll probably prefer partying where you aren’t the DD.

Don't let it take too long to reach the party ...

Don’t let it take too long to reach the party …

For me personally, one of my favourite things about living near Bathurst and Lake Shore Blvd is that I’m walking distance from the Caribana parade. No waiting for anybody; when I’m ready to leave, bye!!!

 

5. YOUR CLOTHING

How are you gonna have fun if you’re constantly sucking in your stomach or snagging your shirt or sweating too much? Personally I like parties which don’t require much clothing at all (lol), because this minimizes the amount of time I have to spend considering all these variables.

 

Couldn't even count the amount of times I wore this top ... super-comfortable and it always looked great.

Couldn’t even count the amount of times I wore this top … super-comfortable and it always looked great.

Which brings us to . . .

 

6. YOUR ACCESSORIES

Every female reading this has, at some point, suffered due to an unfortunate choice of footwear at a party. Shoe manufacturers seem to have discovered a way to make certain pumps feel deceptively comfortable in the store and around the house and for maybe the first 90 minutes when you finally debut them, and then suddenly your feet are burning like hell fire. Every male reading this has, at some point, shaken his head and wondered (silently, if he’s smart) why a female would do that to herself. I have been literally carried back to the car (thanks Kerron!). I have spent most of the night dancing from the waist up only, because my friend and I knew full well that if we left our seats, the other footsore females who were circling would make sure we never got to sit down again (shoutouts to Dawn Dai!). And on numerous occasions I have brought a pair of flat shoes in my purse in case the pain from the heels got too intense.

Yes, we got a cute pic out of it. But we were legit concerned that I might cripple myself walking back across the gravel parking lot, so he really did carry me. #clearlyakeeper

Yes, we got a cute pic out of it. But we were legit concerned that I might cripple myself walking back across the gravel parking lot, so he really did carry me. #clearlyakeeper

Shoes are a biggie, but there are other accessories that can seriously kill your vibe too. Like earrings that are too heavy to let you really dance. And hairpieces that threaten to separate from your head if you dance too hard. So choose your ENTIRE wardrobe carefully.

 

7. THE DJ

If there is a DJ. Because sometimes you want to go to a party where you can have an actual conversation; and sometimes you’re okay just hearing your friend’s iTunes playlist in the background. But when the DJ is legit, he or she has tremendous influence on whether you’re smiling or screwfacing.

summerbreezeI attended “Summer Breeze” this Caribana Sunday, which was a daytime rooftop party, and the DJs (the main ones were Toronto’s own DJ Starting from Scratch and DJ Dany Neville from Dubai) were so proper. Great mixing, good pacing, a wicked soca set in the middle of the event, and — praise Jesus — there was zero talking over the music. If you are a DJ who thinks I came out to hear you talk, you are sadly mistaken. And I know plenty of girls who get irritated by repeated exhortations to walk roun if yuh pussy tun up, for example. Even dudes get salty if you interrupt the music one too many times — why should their bubble get cut short because you like the sound of your own voice so much? It’s like someone with a megaphone walking in on a couple in a baby-making zone. Stop it.

 

8. THE PRICE POINT

This is a dealbreaker for a lot of folks; hey, it’s a tough economy. And yes, I do realize that charging admission helps to keep out some of the riffraff, usually. But I am so much more likely to buy an early-bird ticket for an event, or choose just one expensive party every few months and stay on the cheaper side for the rest, because let’s face it: some of the best parties I’ve ever gone to (like the 90s jam in #3, and a few wedding receptions, and even some high school dances back in the day) didn’t cost me a thing to get inside.

Nish, Dija and me!

Nish, Dija and me!

With that in mind, when someone is sweet enough to cover your cover for you, you’re automatically more likely to have fun; like when my homegirl Nish bought me a ticket to the 2014 Camo boat ride to welcome me home to Toronto. Love you girl!!!

 

9. THOSE PEOPLE (NOT YOUR PEOPLE, THE OTHER ONES)

If your crowd is all fun and friendly and everyone else in the venue is stush, sure, you can just ignore everyone else in the venue. But it really is more fun when a whole bunch of like-minded people get together, and by the time you leave, some have gone from strangers to friends.

New friend Doru, who I met in Dubai? Will we ever meet again? Who knows. The point is we had fun at the Cavalli Club =)

New friend Doru, who I met in Dubai! Will we ever meet again? Who knows. The point is we had fun at the Cavalli Club =)

Yes, I obviously like meeting new guys when I go out; my roster can usually use new names and faces! ;-)  But I’ve even made great new girlfriends out at events, or reconnected with old ones. It really is about people getting together and having a good time.

 

10. YOU

Strangely enough, even though I’ve just spent all this time listing external factors, it comes down to you and your mindset. When I decide to let go of my insecurities, I have a great time. When I decide to live in the moment like I might never get to go to a party ever again, I have a great time. When I remember to laugh about (or at) painful shoes, unfriendly people, annoying DJs, inflated prices, my bestie who’s not there, or how long the lineup was, I have a great time.

Once me, myself and I have decided to have fun, it's a wrap!

Once me, myself and I have decided to have fun, it’s a wrap!

After all, it isn’t my job to control everything; and if it were, I’d never be able to have fun. Here’s hoping I can remember that more often. And here’s hoping I see you at another fête, day party, or house jam sometime soon! ;-)

 

IMG_1018

10 PLACES I WANT TO VISIT

I’ve been home for a month now. I love home. I love travelling too. I’d love to go back to Dubai for next winter.

However, there are tons of other places I’d also love to visit, and that’s the topic for this month’s  Top Ten Tuesday here at www.chattrisse.com . . .

 

1. Belize

Just because. The idea got lodged in my head while I was in university . . . I legit don’t even remember how . . . and it hasn’t gone away.

www.cahalpech.com

www.cahalpech.com

Honeymoon destination?

 

2. Paris

This is thanks to The Devil Wears Prada. My mom and I started planning a trip there once, but we ended up going to Costa Rica instead.

worldtravelguide.net

www.worldtravelguide.net

I am hoping I can find extremely chic clothing at a reasonable price, and that my French isn’t too Canadian.

 

3. St Lucia

Pretty much any gorgeous tropical destination is a win in my book. But it would be nice to catch the St Lucia Jazz Festival, go snorkelling or scuba diving and then drive through a volcano (faster getaway in case Mount So-and-So decides to heat up).

www.travelintropical.blogspot.com

www.travelintropical.blogspot.com

And since the St Lucians I’ve met are all awesome, I’m looking forward to meeting more of them!

 

4. Brazil

Mom and I were once asked if we were Brazilian, and we were extremely flattered — maybe the genuine Brasilianas (did I do that right?) can teach me a thing or two when I get there!

www.ibtimes.com

www.ibtimes.com

Clearly I’m missing the party that is World Cup 2014, but hey, surely that means the airfare is about to drop. And speaking of the World Cup . . .

 

5. South Africa

I’ve been reading about freedom fighters since I was a kid, so naturally I want to see this place for myself. I do not, however, want to hear any vuvuzelas, please and thanks. My friend Shane, from Cape Town, has piqued my interest with his descriptions of safaris and beach house rentals, and malva pudding is like one of my favourite desserts now, so off I go!

DSC07861

Me and Shane!

 

Random fact: when I followed my dad’s lead and selected an African name, the first time around, I chose Zenzele, which is South African.

 

6. Way Up North

The aforementioned Shane wants to visit Canada in the winter (crazy man), since he’s never experienced bone-chilling cold before. I’m okay skipping the weather, but I do want to go somewhere far enough north to see the Northern Lights.

www.guardianlv.com

www.guardianlv.com

I would have caught them at summer camp one year except that the clouds conspired against me (just as they have for so many meteor showers); and watching Frozen recently reminded me of how much I want to see that beautiful sight for myself.

 

7. Trinidad Carnival

I see this as a different destination from Trinidad at any other time of year. I really wanted to be there for Carnival this year, since it fell on my birthday. But going during a year when it doesn’t (which is pretty much every year) will just mean stretching my birthday out over a matter of weeks.

www.democraticunderground.com

www.democraticunderground.com

Or months. I’m okay with that.

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8. Italy

For the food. For some authentic tiramisu. For some amazing pasta. If I’m lucky, my friend Davide will be home when I go and he’ll cook me a huge meal . . .

Davide =)

Davide =)

he might even convince me to turn away from my usual fruity cocktails and enjoy some wine instead.

 

9. Singapore

This got lodged in my head while I was visiting Mom in Abu Dhabi once, and shortly afterward I got very excited by the possibility of living there for a year while performing as Nala in The Lion King on stage there.

ds-lands.com

www.ds-lands.com

Neither that trip nor that role have happened for me yet, but both are still kicking around in my brain . . .

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10. Indonesia

This entry is highly influenced by my recent stint in Dubai.

www.indonesianfair.com

www.indonesianfair.com

My bandmates both love Indonesia and couldn’t stop raving about it; if my three new Indonesian friends Adit and Rio and Oka are any indication of the general population, the country is full of amazingly friendly people; and Indonesia was strongly recommended, along with Singapore, by a GTAer I met during my final days there who’s been travelling for ten years.

Honorable mentions go to Sweden, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Maldives, Malta, and Monaco; and I’d love to take a coast-to-coast trip across Canada too.

Guess I better start packing.  =)

Are any of these places on your bucket list too?  Have you been to any of them already? Is there somewhere I didn’t name that you think I absolutely HAVE to visit?

IMG_0567

10 THINGS I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M MISSING

I’ve been in Dubai for just over 5 months, and I’ll be home in 28 days.

Whoa.

It was pretty much inevitable that I would compile a blog about things I miss about/from/at home, and that’s the topic for this month’s Top Ten Tuesday. However, this list is not for the obvious things: my family and friends, my cat, recognizing money instantly, leaving my bedroom without feeling compelled to cover my shoulders and (maybe) knees. This right here is a list of things I’m surprised and even embarassed to be missing.

 

1. The laundry room.

No, really. Taking an extended vacation from chores has been really nice, but there are some things I’ll be happy to regain control over, and one of those things is when and how my clothes are taken care of.

DSC07530(I won’t be surprised if I take this wish back after about three weeks.)

 

2. Being on the same clock as most people I interact with.

I don’t know if you ever quite get used to being 8 or 9 hours ahead of the majority of people you know … But if it does happen, it must take much longer than 6 months for the adjustment to occur.

10am in Toronto, and 6pm in Dubai

10am in Toronto, 6pm in Dubai

I find it surprising that this matters since so much, since most of my day-to-day communication at home is not done face-to-face (you send someone a text or Facebook message, and whenever they get around to it, they send one back), but things go a lot more smoothly when no one has to stop and wonder “what time is it there?”

 

3. The daily routine of taking public transit and running into people I know.

If I stayed here long enough, both would be more frequent occurrences, but as a temporary UAE resident I’ve definitely missed that feeling of “this is my city” that I have in Toronto. I’m about that downtown life: being able to walk to lots of places, knowing it’s pretty much impossible for me to get lost, not having a time limit on when I should start heading back home, etc.

Seated in a hotel shuttle bus, passing a metro station on Sheikh Zayed Road

Seated in a hotel shuttle bus, passing a metro station on Sheikh Zayed Road

(Note: much of this is not because I’m in a new city, but because I’m living on the outskirts, a 20-minute ride from the nearest metro station. Trains here don’t run as late into the night as the TTC, but that wouldn’t be an issue for me if I were more centrally located.)

 

4. Canadian manners and customs.

So apparently, holding doors open for people is not a worldwide trend.  And apparently, there are numerous cultures where it is not considered offensive to make unflattering personal comments to someone you don’t know very well … Like [pointing under eyes] “You look like you didn’t sleep last night” or [placing their hand on my belly as if I’m pregnant, and giggling].

IMG_0246It’s taking awhile to learn to let certain things slide off my back.

 

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5. Eye candy.

I’ve always been boy-crazy, so I became aware of this “lack” pretty quickly. Yes, I’ve been to the Middle East before, so I knew I wasn’t going to spend this trip smeyesing and flirting with random men. But even the beach at my hotel is painfully devoid of watchworthy bodies, except for a few sweet weeks when a bunch of professional soccer teams were staying here (shoutouts to Stoke City FC!) … Meanwhile, in Toronto, the temps are heating up (right? If not, I’m not coming home) and the streets there are probably full of men who are not only eligible but damn sexy.

With Kees Dieffenthaller in December 2013. #happysigh

With Kees Dieffenthaller in December 2013. #happysigh

Fortunately, my homegirl Nish has already secured me a ticket for a boat ride on June 15th. Hot dudes reading this, if you’re coming to Camo, please just leave your shirts at home.

 

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6. Easy midnight snacking.

Yes, I know it’s bad, and I rarely do it. But I miss having the OPTION, lol! I’ve been doing my best to keep a small stash of maybe-healthy snacks available, like rice cakes and nuts and tea.

My Easter gift from the hotel. Sweet!

My Easter gift from the hotel. Sweet!

But, man, sometimes you just want to crack open those dinner leftovers or start on breakfast eight hours early. And while we’re on the subject, I also miss …

 

7. Cooking privileges.

Living in a hotel room has perks and pitfalls, and one of the latter is a lack of kitchen access. I have a kettle and a minibar (which I blithely assumed was a suitable substitute for a fridge, until I got food poisoning), and whatever foods or snacks or treats I choose to buy are pretty cheap, which is nice.

Dessert buffets are dangerous things.

Dessert buffets are dangerous things.

And don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that it’s a luxury to eat at buffet restaurants staffed by professional chefs and servers three times a day! But once in awhile, I’d rather just open up a legit refrigerator, see what’s inside (especially if the groceries were bought by me) and make something I feel like eating. You know?

 

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8. Checking the weather without feeling guilty.

Example: Yahoo tells me the temperature at noon on May 2nd (Dubai time) was 40 degrees, while it was 8 at home (4am Toronto time). On January 2nd, Toronto was -15 degrees with a low of -20, while Dubai had a high of 24 with a low of 17. Full disclosure: sometimes I check the weather back home for a good laugh because the differences are so ridiculous.

Feb 5 2014.027But there have been many times I’ve considered posting a Facebook status update about the weather here, then changed my mind for fear of being met at the airport by a violent jealous mob.

 

9. Jogging outdoors.

I did my best! For the first few weeks I was back in workout mode, I jogged around the resort (boring) and ran up and down the stairs to and from the 7th floor (boring) and went along the desert highway outside of the resort property (enjoyable, but ultimately unsafe).

DSC07811Then I gave in to common sense and I now use the exercise room at the resort’s gym. I’ve never been a fan of sharing equipment with a bunch of other people, or of staring out at scenery that doesn’t change regardless of how fast I move, so it will feel awesome to go run alongside Lake Ontario once again! (Although it won’t take long before I start missing the peacocks who sometimes pass by the gym just to say what’s up.)

 

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10. Having a regular social life.

“Regular” means different things to different people, and I’m past the days of finding it fun to go clubbing every weekend. But I do miss having days/nights off at the same time as other people. I really hope I find someone to go party with at least once, now that my night off is Tuesday which is Ladies Night (all of my girl friends here work Tuesday nights). It would have been awesome to see Cirque du Soleil or Carlos Santana or Lionel Richie. And there are no words to accurately describe how much I’ve missed going to fêtes!

-.029This is like normal homesickness, mixed with the time zone adjustment, compounded with Carnival withdrawal and topped off with a more restrictive schedule than I’m used to (having one night off per week is pretty normal during a contract, but I’ve never been in a show that lasted half a year with no breaks before).
So for these and other reasons, get ready for a big party when I come back home!

Or at least a day of jogging, laundry, and making my own omelette for breakfast.  :).

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10 RULES OF FÊTIQUETTE

The first Tuesday of March 2014!  Of course this means the third installment of Top Ten Tuesdays here on my blog, but it also means Carnival is in full swing for lucky partygoers in places like Trinidad, Brazil, and even New Orleans (Happy Fat Tuesday).

Being in Dubai, I am far away from any carnivalerie, so I decided to contribute somewhat by dedicating this Top Ten post to the aforementioned partygoers – here are some words of wisdom gathered by my friends and I during the last decade or so of fêting.  Enjoy …

 

1.  When you are waiting outside to get in, know that there is a direct correlation between the amount of jokes cracked and the speed at which time will pass. To this end, it is advisable to befriend strangers in line and poke fun at whatever and whomever is nearby.

crash-party-weekendHowever, when the line starts to get too chubby at the front, the time for jokes has passed. Band together with your newfound friends and push through the blasted door.

2.  It is not okay to hold up the line at the door on your way in (or the line at the coat check on your way out) because you lost your ticket.

whiteout 2008Put your ticket inside a pocket … inside a shoe … inside your phone case …  with your ID … or, ladies, put in your bra (or your friend’s bra, if you’re really dressed to fête).

3.  So basic, but apparently this needs to be reiterated a whole lot. When you’re attempting to dance on someone and they move away from you, they are not challenging you to follow them.

no danceDisengage.

4.  Females who arrive at a fête in high heels and/or flip flops should not be mocked gratuitously for their poor selection of footwear. Keep this in mind, but feel no obligation to go out of your way just to avoid them hurting their feet …

pain scale… it’s the only way they’ll learn.

5.  Non-essential objects which fall to the floor have a retrieval time limit. If more than 30 seconds have passed since your bracelet, ring, or rag fell into the sludgy mess under your shoes, let it go.

stopwatchIf it is your earring that has fallen, no amount of time will make it safe for you to wear it again — do not, for any reason, attempt to put that piece of metal through your earlobe. Your mother raised you better than that.

6.  Those who can hold their liquor: drink freely. Those who cannot: do not ruin this night for the rest of us.

DSC08010If you are not sure which group you belong to, ask your friends.

7.  Men and boys: you know how you love looking at women’s bodies but you’re really quick to judge them?

mindblowinglyhotWomen and girls are the same way, so hit the gym before you show up and take your shirt off.

8.  Men and women: teach the boys and girls what to do and how to act. The recent influx of soca novices who seem unable to comprehend and execute even the simplest of dances …

Palance-Icon … is untenable, and action must be taken now to prevent this situation from getting worse. (And while we’re on the subject … Can we please retire Palance???)

9.  If you, like me, are tired of wining competitions which take up half of an artist’s set, meet me at the bar as soon as the selection of contestants from each Caribbean country begins.

DSC06087And to those of you craning your necks to watch the whole thing go down, don’t be surprised when Trinidad wins.

10. Enjoy yourself. To the fullest.

Return Fete 2008Carnival will come back every year … genres of music will come and go and come again … our kids and their kids will have lots of fun at parties too … but the vibe will never be the same.

Oh goshhhhhhh I’m itching to go to a fête now … miss you all!  Til next time ;-) xoxoxoxoxo

Chattrisse-online-F cropped

Grinning from Ear to Ear!

Phew!

So I’m noticing a trend here and I’m not mad at this at alllll: as the weather gets colder, my career heats up. Last fall I had a spree of auditions and bookings, and sure it’s still summer right now but that thermometer says fall is coming back real soon! Awesome things are happening. Here’s a page out of my dayplanner to prove that when it rains amazingness, it POURS…

Monday July 29: audition for an out-of-town singing gig.

Tuesday July 30: audition for a movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, and I made progress in my ongoing search for the right manager.

Wednesday July 31: had an awesome time on an awesome boat ride with old and new friends, and some extremely attractive new acquaintances (hey, all work and no play would make Chattrisse a dull girl); and I got asked to interview Destra, the queen of soca, for a live worldwide audience via Caribbean Connections TV.

Thursday, August 1: I launched my blog (yep, this one – yay!!) and the wonderful Lindsay Holung, a fellow Ryerson RTA grad, recorded me and the wonderful Hollywood Jade doing one of his routines from his Urbanesque class (footage coming soon, I hope).

Friday, August 2: I got to interview Destra, the queen of soca, for a live worldwide audience via Caribbean Connections TV (I’m still so excited! Again, footage coming soon, I hope, lol!).

A great live interview with DESTRA

A great live interview with DESTRA

Saturday, August 3: Caribana! Played mas in an absolutely gorgeous costume with Carnival Nationz (for pics and a summary of the day, read this).

Sunday, August 4: Surprise – guess who was the SUNshine Girl the day after the big parade! And then a huge fete to finish off the jump-up long weekend.

Published in the Toronto Sun - August 4 2013.  "When she's not jumping up, Chattrisse dreams big..." they even quoted my love for KES the Band!

Published in the Sunday Sun – August 4 2013. “When she’s not jumping up, Chattrisse dreams big…” they even quoted my love for KES the Band!

And that was just, one, week. Love it!!!

Stay tuned for even more big announcements, coming up soon!

(Oh man, I don’t know how I can sleep at nights. Eee!)

Hope you’re all having an incredible summer too!!!