It’s that time again in South Florida! Only days away from the 2016 Miami Broward Carnival, waistlines that had been looking forward to “one more whine” can finally get it. Paraders — who’d been dieting and detoxing — will breathe a collective sigh of relief as they slide into their costumes to find that it hugs all the right places. The men, muscled and glistening, will be grateful for the extra time put in at the gym building stamina to withstand the amount of bumpas which’ll be thrown their way — but I doubt they’re complaining. And Asanyah Davidson — soca loving Jamaican fashion designer — will be playing Mas with the Generation X band. “I’m jumping in this year’s Carnival,” she tells me.

A total of 20 bands will compete for best of show in each category: Bajan Fuh Evah, One Island Band, Break Awae Kru, Carnival Republic, D-Junction Mas, Euphoria Production, Fun Generation, Freaks Mas, Fusion Mas, Generation X, Island Gems, Jamborii Mas, Major Players, Mascots International, Natural Disasters, Party Room Squad, Revel Nation Carnival, Ti Chapo, and Wassi Ones. This year’s Mas competition will take place October 7 from 4-7PM at Central Broward Regional Park.

The contest is broken into four battles — Kings, Queens, individual males and individual females. Once competitions starts, masqueraders will take to the stages to display:

  • Creativity/authenticity of costume
  • Craftsmanship and portability of costume
  • Their presentation
  • The presentation’s relationship to the band’s theme

“It’s not just about the design,” said Miami Broward Carnival Board Member and Carnivalist, Kathryn D’Arcy. “Many designers do a great deal of research beforehand – especially when it’s a historical or tribal costume, in order to be accurate.”

So, how can you sign-up to play Mas at the 2017 Miami Broward Carnival?

  • Approach the the band director of the Mas band you’d like to play with for their approval.
  • Once the band agrees, the designer is tasked with making a costume that embodies the theme of the band. Costume designers are usually skilled in multiple disciplines including carving, papier mache, molding, copper work, etc.
  • The ideal Queen/King competitor must be able to handle the size and weight of their costume for hours at a time, while still being able to play Mas and display their musicality and rhythm during competition. The Queen/King costumes can be more than 20 feet high, 40 feet wide and weigh 100 or more pounds. To make big costumes mobile, techniques like wheels, pulleys and even stilts are used in their construction and presentation.

What’s Asanyah’s favorite thing about Carnival?

What I love about all Caribbean Carnivals, is that it’s not about what you look like in your costume… pageantry is fun because a lot of us never get a chance to dress up in feathers and shine. However, it really is about having a good time. It’s about “jumping up” with your friends both literally and figuratively. It’s about having someone as old as your mom or your grandma show you how to really get down and enjoy life. And you carry that with you for the rest of the year through the songs you sing at the top of your lungs in the car when you’re going to a job you might hate or after getting some tough news. It’s that feeling that most find addictive and what they travel around the world chasing. Life lived and a reminder that we’re not here to just work.

… and there you have it! This year’s Miami Broward Carnival will take place on October 9th at Miami-Dade County fairgrounds and feature performances by Alison Hinds, Edwin Yearwood, Lead Pipe & Saddis plus more.

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