Now that Pride’s out of the way, summer means one thing: Caribana!
DJ Blackcat returns with Urban Jungle this year, and he’s bringing along Canadian superstar Jully Black for the ride. It’s poised to be the biggest LGBT event at Caribana; both agree that visibility during Caribana is important. “The Urban Jungle has gone from a whisper into a roar. It’s a humanity event,” Black says. “All walks of life come out: gay, straight, lesbian, black, white.”
Blackcat agrees: “Caribana is a cultural movement in Toronto, and our culture includes transgender. It’s unfortunate that we are not yet able to be visible in the actual parade, but we are pushing the envelope and making ourselves known. When I get phone calls from straight people asking about the yearly Urban Jungle . . . that means they’re paying attention and our presence is growing.” Blackcat’s parties are now an undeniable part of the fabric of the festival, and if you’re wanting a taste of Caribana without the crowds or the hot sun at the parade, Urban Jungle is a can’t-miss.
The DJ and the singer never miss a good party, so have they been Caribana regulars over the years? “I had never been to the parade before 2012!” Black admits. As for Blackcat, “My first Caribana I was really young. I barely remember it, but I remember being with friends and having a good time. I don’t have a major story about my first Caribana trip, but I always love the parade for the costumes.”
Speaking of costumes, both Blackcat and Black are known almost as much for what they bring to events style-wise as they are for their music, and a big throw-down like this raises the question: what to wear? Official dress code calls for army, combat or floral looks, mixed with skin and sexiness, and Black promises a look that will dazzle. “It will be sexy; it will be powerful. I’m just getting into the idea of black Wonder Woman, so expect to see that essence.”
Blackcat also will dress to be seen, and seen from far away: “The way I’m going is shiny. I’m feeling glittery right now; I want to be very bright and reflective.”
The two have a close friendship that goes back more than two decades, and their respect and close-knit humour speaks volumes about the kind of vibe they are aiming to create at this party: inclusive, fun and plenty of good music.
They’re also launching a collaboration: a mix tape called Lovex20. Calling Blackcat both “a brother figure and a mentor who’s earned the respect of everybody,” Black says it will include “unreleased music, songs that were supposed to be on my MCA release, songs that are super-personal, songs that are me spitting or rapping or doing reggae. It’s our own version of Songza. We call it Jullyza!”
The admiration is mutual: “Jully has become more confident in herself,” Blackcat says. “She’s more aware in who she is and what she stands for, more focused on making sure that she represents her country and herself through her music.”
It’s sweet to see that a long-term friendship has blossomed into professional success for them both. We predict a wild, wild time at Urban Jungle when these two hit the dancefloor.