Caribana Recap 2019

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Caribana Recap

2019

Toronto Carnival Season 2019 was one to remember.

The #SpiceFam was alllllll ova! We hosted a few pop up dance workshops, performed at a few private events, and had tv spots on

both Breakfast Television (view here) and CP24 (view here).

Met Preedy, Kerwin Dubois, and Jillionaire, saw Blaxx, Tallpree and Shal Marshal perform live, won section of the year at Friday Night Mas, and hit the carnival road with the Carnival Spice ladies. Twas a time!

What I loved most:

  • THE STAGE!!! For the first time ever, Toronto Carnival featured an elevated stage. If you followed my blog over the years, you’ll know that I’ve BEEN suggesting this! I didn’t get to see the stage in person, but based on photos and video floating around the net it looked awesome!

  • Meeting the Real Housewives of Atlanta was pretty cool too. In addition to being a huge fan of the show, I’m so happy I could share my culture with them! ...Gahhh! That’s all I can say for now.

  • The King and Queen competition had a great vibe this year. Speeches were LONG, but kudos to MC SKF for keeping the crowd’s energy up. I personally enjoyed the performance by Lil Natty & Thunda but the audience was tough. Lol. Twas clearly a trini crowd. Congratulations to all the winners. My favourite was this year’s queen from Toronto Revellers! Her costumed radiated the moment the lights hit it on the stage.

  • Big up Cantu Beauty for giving away full sized products from their hair care line on the road!!! They had a tent set up and offered hair tips, products, and more.

Least favourite moments:

  • The same day I was on Breakfast Television dozens of people forwarded me a CBC article where my photo was used to promote a campaign that I had no affiliation with. I suspect a band who I modelled previously for submitted the photo without my knowledge. This is SUPER frustrating considering they could and SHOULD have used photos from their 2019 season! Plus I personally don’t support the campaign in relation to carnival. Apparently topless masqueraders were to appear at the parade this year - cool, do your thing but leave me out of it. I advocate for cultural arts and the history of mas… which in my opinion doesn’t correlate with being nude.

  • Although I commend Shea Moisture Canada for hosting a fun filled & educational event surrounding black women and black hair, I’m quite disappointed that the featured Caribbean Carnival models/dancers they used didn’t reflect their audience! In my opinion, if you are hosting a Caribbean Carnival event hiring samba performers as the entertainment is a miss. An even bigger bonus would have been if they used black models. They had photo booth activations at some of the costume launches earlier in the year - why not hire one of the models from the show??? There were so many models/dancers to choose from… And nooo, I’m not salty that Carnival Spice wasn’t called - lololol. I’m simply mentioning this so they can do better next time around.

  • Lack of attractions along the parade route was a big miss by the festival organizers. I understand that the Grand Parade is suppose to have masqueraders and spectators - HOWEVER, sadly the mentality in Toronto is that Caribana is a street party and the issue of “storming” exists year after year. I feel like if their were more attractions along the route it would redirect people out of the parade. I commend initiatives like the Winedown Festival and Island Mix for hosting limes along the sidelines; those events visibly made an impact on the amount of congestion on the route.

Now that we finally have a stage I may consider playing mas again in Toronto… I would only be open to partnering with a section leader or band who is trying to push the culture forward and respects their masqueraders. When I play, I roll DEEP; so I’m especially mindful that everyone who plays with me has a great time.

It has been heartbreaking seeing all the recent press regarding poor masquerader experiences! Negative media attention doesn’t just affect the band in fire it effects the entire festival and carnival community.

Let’s all vow to do better.


SO HOW ABOUT YOU - HOW WAS YOUR TORONTO CARNIVAL 2019 EXPERIENCE?

Did you play mas? How’d you like your costume? The band? The new route?

Did you just fete? What was your fave party?

Did you escape and go to the cottage?

Let me know in the comments?

Toronto Carnival Guide 2019

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The Toronto Guide 2019

For Masqueraders

In case your wondering - yes that’s me in the photo above! Living out my glory in one of my favourite Toronto Carnival moments EVER! It was 2011, crossing the judging stage to ADVANTAGE by Machel Montano. Never saw that white rag again, popped the strap on that cute matching purse, and one of my lashes floated off into the horizon. Best moment ever… but it gets better… after parading with meh friends, going home to relax and sleep… I woke to the news that this photo was on the FRONT COVER OF THE TORONTO STAR!!!!!!!! THE FRONT COVER OF THE TORONTO STAR YALLL! Magic captured in real time.

It’s carnival season in Toronto so the city is buzzing with the Grand Parade only 10 days away! I am asked daily where to find this and that so I’ve compiled a list of a few Carnival - related business in the GTA that may help you, the masquerader, get ready for the road.

Back in the day most of these companies were unheard of leaving masqueraders to fend for themselves so I am proud to see how the carnival world is evolving. To the artists and business owners listed - I see you! Keep pushing doing what you love and keeping the culture alive. Enjoy the rest of your Toronto Carnival season.

 

READERS, If you enjoy this post, please leave a comment below and share share share. 

If tagging, you can find me on social @simplyshakera 

… and definitely let the vendors know Simply Shakera sent ya! Xo

Fitness

  • @werkdatdennis offers dance fitness in Brampton Saturday mornings and Thursday evenings.

  • @carnivalcurves offers carnival bootcamps and more across the GTA.

  • @CarnivalSpice offers Caribbean Dance Fitness and Carnival Choreography year round with a pop up dance work Friday, July 26th. Be sure to also visit carnivalspice.com to learn about their Caribbean Carnival entertainment services and child youth programs.

  • @islandwukout present #WukoutWednesday July 31st in Mississauga

  • The Fitlife Bootcamp; a dance fitness event featuring soca star FayAnn Lyons Aug. 1st in Scarborough

Accessories

@thecollabovibe is a local distributor of @carnivalista products including fishnets, tights and pasties. Their main service is providing mas coverage of band launches and carnival - look out for them on the road.  

@carnival_queens_accessories offers bedazzled water bottles, flasks, cups, and more. See page for designs

@cleoluxe offers fanny packs, fishnets in all shades, sunglasses, and lashes

@mas.vlstockings are advertising fishnets with low waistbands. These are good for those of you wearing spider pants!

@carnivaldepot offers glitter fishnets and miles tights.

A few of the bands have fishnet and tight vendors at their mas camps too.

Notes:

  • If taking the fishnet or tights approach, try to find a color to match your skin tone. It should blend!

  • The pantyhose you wear to the office or church is not the same. Carnival tights/fishnets don’t have seams and are a much thicker material.

  • You don’t have to wear fishnets by the way - it’s not mandatory. Many feel more comfortable in them or want to give their costume a little extra sparkle.

  • AND PLEASE STOP PULLING UP YOUR FISHNETS TOWARD YOUR BRA. That trend has passed and it has never been cute. The waistband of your fishnets should be covered either with your belt, costume panty or if applicable.

  • The masquerader (@bahayogi) on the left models exactly how the fishnets should be worn!

  • The model on the right is a NO!!!!!!!! The band needs to be lowered and the fishnet color is wrong. Black would only work if the costume was black or had black accents.

Bags

@StyledfortheRoad

Carnival purses designed and handmade by Suzanna

She offers a variety of colors and currently has a sale going on. They are super cute.

styleprolix.com

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@LimeCarnival

Stylish hydration packs for carnival or music festivals. (So you don’t have to get the hideous ones from Canada Tire)

https://www.limecarnival.com


DIY

Fanny packs are the trend for the road

Locally, take a look at places like ardent, urban behaviour, stitches, or forever 21; the quality isn’t the best tho!



Make Up

@CarnivalMakeUpKits 

Provide professionally-selected carnival makeup designed to match your costume in a compact kit!

Each kit is customized to your costume and includes:

  1. Glitter (x2 jars)

  2. Jewels (x2 sheets)

  3. Waterproof Cellphone Pouch

  4. Lash + Glue OR Glitter Primer

You can check out a recent interview they did we CP24: https://www.cp24.com/video?clipId=1734491


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Make Up Artists:

@nikkidmakeup

The photo is of some of Nikki’s work. She will be taking appointments on a first come first serve basis - connect with her to determine location.

@PreciselyYourPassion are providing carnival make up experiences including breakfast, photoshoot and more.

book online: preciselyourpassio.wixsite.com/precisely-pop-2


The accounts below I have never personally used before but they had quite attractive ads on IG. Nonetheless, sharing is caring:

@sholaseraphinabeauty offers brow styling and Caribana make up for Saldenah and Carnival Nationz

@facecandystudio limite slots remain.

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Carnival Beauty Lounge at the Radisson Hotel @honeybeautyinc - cool idea!

  • They’re promoting a variety of things such Makeup application, photoshoot, and shuttle to parade.

TIP:

  • If adding gems to your face from Dollarama; please place them INDIVIDUALLY not as the strip. Cute > Laziness.

  • Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on your face!!!


Footwear

  • Unfortunately there aren’t many local boot vendors but with a quick google you’ll see a bunch of vendors pop up that sell online. Hopefully you have a friend with Amazon prime.

  • Running shoes or sneakers are always your best bet.

  • Unless you’ve done it before avoid sandals, heels, and flats.

  • ANY footwear you pick Comfort IS KEY! It should also match your costume. 

  • PS: Carnival is a time to be larger than life! Bedazzling your shoes is welcomed - dohhh hold back!

  • Designer and Carnival Beauty @fon_rose some great footwear style below:

Community

Carnival Day Camp

Child Care Service For Masqueraders aged 4-12 years.

http://carnivaldaycamp.com

I believe registration deadline is July 26th - inquire ASAP.

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@everybodyplayahmas

A body positive movement to showcase and celebrate diversity in Caribbean Carnivals.

Use the hashtag #EverybodyPlayAhMas in your social posts to be a part of change.

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Karabana 

Enjoy some of the best carnival coverage from this true masquerader.

She will more likely take your picture.

http://karabana.blogspot.ca

Couple More Tips Before I Go.

  • EAT BEFORE YOU GO ON THE ROAD - don’t rely on your band to feed you.

  • Leave the cards at home - cash is ideal

  • Invest in a battery pack for your phone. Reception is terrible along the route which quickly drains your battery.

  • Ensure you’re wearing good sunblock - costumes make for ugly tan lines


 

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment below and share share share. 

If tagging, you can find me on social @simplyshakera 

… and definitely let the vendors know Simply Shakera sent ya! Xo

xo

[Giveaway] Spring Up Your Wardrobe

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Spring Up Your Wardrobe

Giveaway!

The weather is warming up and it has me feeling oh so nice! I feel so relieved that I can wear a lighter jacket and not have to brush snow off of my car. Warmer weather also calls for outdoor workouts… so why not workout in STYLE! 

As a #FitSquad member for Titika Activewear, we have often collaborated on offering you free Simply Shakera dance cardio classes. Now we would like to “spring" up your fitness wardrobe! (See what I did there 😛) We're giving away one lucky winner a $50 gift card and another lucky winner thie sexy sport bag seen in my hand! 

Titika’s activewear is designed for performance, comfort and versatility so I now you’ll enjoy shopping at their store as much as I do.

How To Enter:

In the comment sections, tell me your favourite way to get FIT: Cycle? Dance? Yoga? Run? or Weights? AND tell me if you prefer online workouts or offline.

For a BONUS entry, visit this link: https://www.instagram.com/p/BwE4Y6VgLAV/

**Winner must be a Canadian resident**

The #SSPinkParty

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The SSPinkParty

Let’s Dance, Paint, & Celebrate

Exactly one month ago I presented to you simplyshakera.com; my hand crafted online space made with love, light, and God’s grace. Beyond the pretty pictures, my hope is that it can be used as a resource for you, a source of inspiration, and a place where we can directly connect. The site has been years in the making - to be specific, I bought the domain back in 2012. Life is journey though and nothing happens before it’s time so I’m glad you are all able to share in this moment with me! February 3, 2019 is a day I will never forget.

For months I envisioned hosting a website launch event where I could celebrate with family while supporting another Caribbean business. For months I also wanted to attend a paint night but could never find the time.  With the #SSPinkParty, I married the two ideas. The evening took place at the Tray Arts Studio (@trayarts); please follow this brother! His studio was clean, vibrant and he welcomed my guests with open arms. We all really enjoyed the experience. The art piece we painted was a female masquerader to page homage to Carnival Spice. I was blown away by the outcome every one interpreted the piece differently but still created beautiful works of art.

My Biggest Takeaways From The #SSPinkParty:

  • Support Local Businesses

  • We All Have An Inner Artist Inside Of Us

  • Trust The Process

Another highlight from the day was my speech! Thank heavens for video because the moment was a blur. I recalled standing up at the front of the room introducing myself and the site then instantly being flooded with emotions. I looked out in the room and the saw faces of many who have been there for me during many stages of my journey. I felt so much joy, relief, and gratitude. The road to entrepreneurship hasn’t been the easiest but I would do it all over again if given the chance. For me it’s less about setting my hours and answering to a “boss” but it’s really but creating a life a want to live brick by brick and most importantly, creating a life of purpose that can be of service to others.

Thank you for reading ya’ll - I added some clips to my IGTV as well. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful week and take this new month by storm!

Xo,


Shakera

Identifying You Passion Pillars

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Identifying

your passion pillars

Identifying your passion pillars allows you to live life a more intentional life. They can include your gifts (things your born to do, given by God, what’s naturally to you), talents (things you chose to do, areas you’re trained or educated in), Values (areas you hold at high regard), and/or interests (things that bring you joy).

I am grateful to have transformed my passion pillars into a business, a lifestyle, and a source of inspiration for others. Whether it’s your first time visiting my page or you have known me for years, you may have guessed that my passion pillars are Dance, Fitness, and Culture. Learn more in MY STORY about why these areas are so important to me.

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
— Oprah Winfrey

Passion is a powerful feeling that translates into intense enthusiasm or excitement towards something. That something can include love for a particular activity, great emotion for another individual, or an interest in an idea or cause.

Passion unlocks action.

It enables us to have self-confidence, trust ourselves and to take the risks!

Others can feel passion in you - that’s how strong it is!

Passion empowers us to overcome challenges and obstacles. Whether real or imagined, with passion you will overcome these challenges and obstacles and see the world as a place of infinite potential.

Pillars in this context are things rooted in the core of who you are and provides support for other areas.


Through my Passion Pillars, my goal is to bring joy to the lives of others. I would also love for you to establish your own passion pillars too!

Start by considering areas you’re strong in:

Are you always sketching designs, graphics, comics etc. on napkins?

Are you the friend everyone goes to for Life advice? Tech advice? Health Tips? Relationship help?

Perhaps you were like me and could dance before you could walk? What activity have you loved to do since you were a child? Or rather what activity have you had a growing love or appreciation for?

Does the work you do prompt results for others?


Now, use the statements below to help discover your passion pillars by filling in the (x) with the areas that immediately come to your heart or mind for each statement. Is there an area or thing that shows up more than once? Add it to your list. When making your final list of passion pillars I recommend selecting ONE, THREE, or a maximum of FIVE!


______X_____ is something I would do every day if given the opportunity.

______X_____ is something I could make a living from but would be open to do for free!

______X_____  is something that I utilize to be of service to the world.

When I practice/do ______X_____  I feel challenged to be better version of myself.

Ever since I could remember, I could be found  ______X_____ .


SENDING YOU LOVE & LIGHT!

Xo,


Shakera

Keep It Simple

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Keep It Simple

to Unlock A Happier & Healthier Life

Simply Shakera DEFINED:

SIMPLY”: to operate in a straightforward or plain manner; without embellishment or ambiguity.

SHAKERA”: Often spelt Shakira, is Arabic for “Fruitful & Flourishing”. One who is thankful , grateful to the creator and joyous.

There is peace in simplicity and space to really the many joys and blessings of life. We all are on a journey and I have come to learn that my journey involves “Shakera Martin” aligning with her simplest form... in essence aligning with “Simply Shakera”. Coming into alignment with things you are meant to do allows you to truly feel God’s grace. Once I became aware of this, a process of reprogramming, sacrifice, and self-discovery began… and continues!

Common areas where complexity showed up in my life:

  • The storage on my devices (Favourite line: “Your phone doesn’t have sufficient to take this photo).

  • There never seems to be “enough” room in my closets or drawers (Favourite line from friends and family: “When did you buy that shirt Shakera?).

  • Lingering to do list items.

  • Being silent when dealing with toxic people!

  • Poor eating habits!

  • Over and over and overthinking!!

Can you relate to any of these?

Simplicity means removing or eliminating what you can without making life difficult. It’s like getting rid of heavy stones that have been attached to you with chains.
— - Iyanla Vanzant

The journey to simplicity challenges you to free yourself of bells, whistles or gimmicks and forces you to be comfortable with the core of who you are and your greatness. In that state, your vibes are so high that you are unstoppable.  Let go of what no longer serves you, lead with love, heal the mind/body/spirit through daily practice. I am starting to face myself even more and deal with the core of who I am by questioning everything I have been taught to believe. Yes, this has brought about much discomfort but I trust that there is a healthier and EVEN happier Shakera on the other side.

Success for me during this process has come from comes from continuing to fill my life with things that bring me joy and keeping God at the center of all my decisions. My growing faith has shown me that I am meant to inspire, support, and motivate others as as I navigate through all the hills & valleys. That’s where the true healing lies and further that is how we can complete our true life’s work by providing service to others.

I challenge you to set an intention to simplify your life today on your own journey toward a happier and healthier life.

Below are few ways to initiate the process:

(1) Let go of things and people that no longer serve your growth

What weight must I RELEASE from my mind or space?

How can I show the universe that I am READY for new beginnings and new opportunity?

(2) Lead with energy

What activity brings my spirit UP? Who keeps my vibe HIGH when I am around them?

What am I ingesting daily and how is keeping my energy POSITIVE & PRODUCTIVE?


(3) Lead with passion

Ask yourself, what do I LOVE doing?

How can an I incorporate that thing in my life daily? Weekly? Monthly?

Now take action and be consistent!

SENDING YOU LOVE & LIGHT!

Xo,

Shakera

 

Photo Details:

Photography: Bright Osei-Agyeman

Shoes: Aldo

Shirt: American Apparel

Shorts: Parasuco

Hair: Carlene’s Beauty Lounge

Make Up: ME!

2018 In Review

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2018 In Review

Let us reflect on the lessons and celebrate the wins.

For many, 2018 was tough! I received so many messages from folks who were ready to leave it behind. To a degree, I understand! There even came a point when I stopped watching the news.  For me however, 2018 was the most transformational year of my life thus far. At the start of each year I select one word to help guide my intentions for the next 364 days. For 2018 I was on a quest for PEACE.

2018 answered the call immediately! Things kicked off with continued celebrations for my 30th birthday, preparations for my company’s fifth anniversary, and boom, in walks one of the greatest men I’ve ever met. Joy to the world! The future I envisioned was changing and this required a new action plan. So where do I start?

To maintain peace in my eyes meant to work smarter not harder. I’m accustomed to completing a million tasks a day, jumping here, typing there, driving to the next class, or the next gig. But nah, not for 2018. I wasn’t eager to jump in to my normal work routine. I was intentional about slowing down to figure out next steps. Better steps. Smarter steps. Definitely needed to lean on my faith for direction! The moment I did that, everything changed. God revealed so much I needed to know and the world as I knew it flipped upside down. Was the experience bad? Nope! Painful? Sometimes. Uncomfortable? VERY! ...but here I am today on the other side of healing with so much gratitude, strength,and lessons. Instead of focusing on the discomforts and hardships of 2018, let us remember the year we lived, learned and LEVELED up… with or without Ciara’s dance.


Speaking of Ciara she made a comeback and added to the Black Girl Magic and Black Boy Joy that flooded 2018. I still get chills when I reflect on Beyonce’s Coachella performance and the fact that Michelle Obama wrote the #1 selling book of 2018 with BECOMING! My sister Siobhan Bent became an author too and co-wrote the book 13 Steps!! Jada, Willow, & Gam opened up our hearts with the Red Table Talk. Meghan Markle and her mom sprinkled melanin all over Buckingham palace...

We could not stop dancing in 2018. Ding Dong and the ravers crew made Dancehall NICE again! Mi nuh tiyad YET fi fling, genna bounce, and lebeh lebeh. @iamzoie had EVERYONE twerking on Fridays… Aliya Janell went on tour, and both lucian & vincy music dominated the soca airwaves and carnival waistlines...

and last but not least, we cannot discuss 2018 without the historical, box office breaking, Michael B Jordon shining, vibranium oozing, BLACK PANTHER!!!!


Some of my personal favourite moments in 2018 were:

The Surprise Party my family through for me TWO weeks after my birthday!

I am still shooketh and can’t believe they pulled it off! Look at my cake ya’ll!


My Babies SMASHING their waltz on Breakfast Television and at their annual gala!

I am the dance program coordinator for the Trust 15 organization. They provide youth in the Rexdale/North Etobicoke area with programs that promote and facilitate positive behaviour, creative expression, and cooperative working skills. Love my babies!!! The team was challenged with the task of learning the waltz for the annual gala. Not only did they SMASH the appearance we did together on Breakfast Television (Watch HERE) but they DELIVERED on show day and brought me to tears! That evening we all elevated together.


Aug. 3rd: The day went in this order Spice interview on CP24 --> Spice appearance for Tweed, Shakera and friends attend Friday Night Mas night parade at Ontario Place → 4 hours sleep → Caribana 2018 at the Exhibition.

I can’t put this day into words. The Carnival Spice calendar was full and so was my heart! The team and I worked, filmed live interviews, and played mas twice! I’m still sore… but oh the memories

Power of Success Conference where I met THE Tony Robbins

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Tony Robbins knows my name all! This is probably THE WORST picture of me but I don’t care. This day shifted me at my core.


Having been in the carnival scene for over 10 years, I’ve seen and experienced so many memories and great lessons. However, on December 29th, 2019 I announced that I will no longer be taking any carnival entertainment bookings or teaching any Carnival Spice drop in classes.  Watch the full video to LEARN WHY HERE)

Although a tough decision, it’s also very freeing! I embrace all the new opportunities flowing my way and will continue my work in developing aspiring artists of color and on a professional platform where their spirits, beauty, and talent can shine. But best believe if Machel or Bunji calls and says they need me in Trinidad to perform, I WILL BE THERE - FEATHERS IN HAND!

Culture is so important to me, and Carnival Spice allowed me to express that. We celebrated Carnival Spice’s 5th birthday, website relaunch, and first company audition in 2018. Even had a repost from Kes the Band for my choreography to their smash single HELLO (Watch Here - it’s at 15, 000 views! ). When I founded the company, I had no idea that it would be what it is today. From festivals, to birthdays, to weddings, the SPICE could be found all over the GTA and your social media timelines. The connections that have blossomed among the #SpiceFam members is also a major highlight; I can’t express how heartwarming it is to see my clients and team members bond both in and outside of class. I look forward to what’s next for the Carnival Spice community.

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SENDING YOU LOVE & LIGHT! LET US USE THE TOOLS WE LEARNED LAST YEAR TO MAKE 2019 THE BEST YEAR YET!

Xoxo & Wakanda Forever,


Shakera