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D’Midas band leader returns to Carnival

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
D’Midas band leader returns to Carnival
(Photo: Yawu Miller)

Rudy Osborne (L) and Shawn Antenor (R) examine costumes for D’Midas International’s 2012 presentation, “Plumage.” Antenor, who will be wearing a costume like the white one to the left, has been dancing in Boston’s Carnival since he was 7. (Yawu Miller photo)

  A D’Midas International costume for this year’s Caribbean Carnival riffs off the red, white and black colors of the Trinidadian flag. (Yawu Miller photo)

Each year before Boston’s Trinidad-styled Carnival, masquerade bands show their costume designs and themes to prospective dancers. Shawn Antenor said when he saw the mas camp of D’Midas International, he made up his mind.

The corner of Seaver and Erie Streets in Dorchester was his first stop, but the D’Midas mas camp impressed him with their imaginative costume designs, bright colors and bold use of plumage.

“I checked out everyone else’s band launch,” said Antenor. “But I was really blown away by D’Midas. Their ideas are always original and always stand out to me.”

 Although just 29, Antenor is a veteran. He’s played mas with D’Midas eight times before. And one could forgive him for shopping around the different mas camps.  D’Midas was absent from last year’s carnival. Bandleader Rudy Osborne, who formed D’Midas 22 years ago, said he needed a break.

“I wanted to go to Trinidad and get drunk for two months last summer,” commented Osborne, 68. “That was the problem.”

If Osborne was tired of Carnival last year, the fatigue is not showing this year. The theme for D’Midas is “Plumage” and the $5,000 in ostrich, pheasant, turkey, peacock and duck feathers the band purchased this year will adorn a full complement of dancers: five adult sections, three children’s sections, and the king and queen costumes.

This past Saturday, Antenor showed up at Osborne’s workshop, a converted two-car garage to pay for his costume – a mardi gras-style angel outfit with wings that sport 12-inch feathers.

“They put a lot of effort into their costumes,” Antenor said. “They’re using every type of feather.”

While the king and queen costumes are typically built on heavy-wheeled wire frames and can easily cost $5,000, others dance in simpler costumes that run between $50 and $150.

Costuming is an obsession for Osborne, who works with a team of volunteers, including his 86-year-old mother Marjorie, who will be dancing in the lead section along with Antenor. Osborne says his team has been working from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. all summer, sewing, gluing and assembling the costumes.

The costuming process begins when Osborne and his associates decide on a theme for the year and work on designs for each section. Their ideas are then sent to designer Stephen Derek, who works out of the D’Midas International mas camp in Trinidad. The costumes designed by Derek are assembled by Osborne and his team.

At last week’s band launch, the prototypes showed off Osborne’s extensive use of feathers to good effect. A peacock-themed costume featured a head-piece crowned with a fabricated peacock head and backed by a full complement of peacock feathers. Osborne says he spent $800 on the 2,000 peacock feathers he’ll use to outfit the 20 dancers in this production section.

When it’s all assembled, 150 D’Midas dancers will parade before the judges in their colorful sections. In addition to the blue peacocks, there will be a Trinidadian national color-themed section with red, black and white costumes crowned with ostrich feathers; a Native American section will be themed in red, white and blue; and a section of mardi gras-themed costumes will feature a chain mail-like armor of brightly-colored coins, held together by golden-colored chains.

“You don’t know how many months he’s been at it, punching the holes out of the coins so he can get the chains through,” Marjorie commented on her son’s labor.

Like many Caribbean women, Marjorie is largely responsible for her son’s obsession with Carnival. She encouraged Osborne to dance with a band when he was 7 years old during Carnival in Port of Spain, the Trinidadian capital where he was born and raised. Osborne became obsessed when he learned how to fabricate costumes with aluminum and other materials available on the island.

What convinced him to bring D’Midas back to Boston this year were his thoughts of the children who play in Carnival.  “When I was in Trinidad last year and the Kiddie Carnival was going on here, a kind of guilt came over me,” Osborne said. “I called people together and said let’s do the band this year.”

Like Osborne, Antenor began dancing in a Carnival band when he was 7 years old.  He is now in the front section, dancing with 10 other angel-costumed players in front of the D’Midas king and queen.  “It’s going to be an amazing sight,” Antenor said.

This year’s Caribbean Carnival will take place Saturday, August 25. The Kiddie Carnival will be held August 19 at White Stadium in Franklin Park. The King and Queen Competition will be held August 23 at the Reggie Lewis Track.


For more information and photographs of D’Midas International and other Carnival bands, visit http://www.bostoncarnival.org.