Toronto gets down Mardi Gras style

Submitted by Rosemary Akpan on Sun Jun 23 6:23pm

On Friday evening, the Royal Ontario Museum transformed their space into a New Orleans style party - a fitting kick-off for the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, now in its 33rd year.

Packed with visitors from all around the city, the night kicked off with DJ L’Oqenz centered in Currelly Gallery.

As guests were greeted with colourful beads, L’Oqenz set the mood by playing the classic Mardi Gras anthem "Do Whatcha Wanna" by Rebirth Brass Band—this is the same song singer Beyoncé Knowles-Carter walked out to at her historic 2018 Coachella set.

Guests were able to hop from room to room all while enjoying some of the museum's greatest artifacts.

Almost every floor had its own individual performance going on— accompanied by a bar and a diverse selection of food.

Tucked in each corner of the various colourful rooms were vendors from Delight Bite, Tita Flips, My Crème Caramel, Gushi, ChotiPLATE and Ice Volcano Ice Cream. These were everyone’s tasty little accessories as they enjoyed the live performances of the night.

The Bronfman Hall located on the second floor of the museum had Alex Pangman and Her Alleycats.

Gathering a large crowd, the group had everyone swaying side-to-side with their vintage 30’s and 40’s swing. Every now and then, they would pick up the pace with a vivacious toe-tapping song that ignited the crowd.

Right across the hall was the Earth’s Treasures room where Gareth Burgess worked up a sweat playing the steel pan. A tropical feeling poured throughout the room as guests roamed around viewing the fine gems exhibited.

On the other side of the museum, Scarlett LaFlamme’s Burlesque show attracted so many people that a line for the elevator to see her performance was formed. The never ending line made it impossible for people who weren’t lined up before 9 p.m. to catch LaFlamme’s 30 minute spectacle. However, when the show was over there did seem to be a lot of happy people exiting the elevator.

In addition to missing LaFlamme’s set, I also missed out on seeing DJ Agile, DJ Medicineman and Allison Toffan’s tap dance performance. There was so much excellent programming it was impossible to catch everything on offer.

The event concluded right back in Currelly Gallery, but this time with The Heavyweights Brass Band jamming out. By the time the Toronto based New Orleans style brass band really got going, the wonderful food had been digested and everyone was in the mood to get loose to the band's funky tunes.

As the smooth but rhythmic brassiness from the instruments bounced throughout the room, it was clear that the city had gotten its fair share of what it’s like to get down Mardi Gras style.

Celebrating the kick-off to the TD Toronto Jazz Festival with a rollicking nod to the birthplace of jazz felt just right.