If you’re reading us from Paris, London, Lisbon, Geneva, Brussels or Berlin, then open your agenda by June 8th (it’s a sunday) and write down at 12pm:“CASTELLS”.
These diadas, called “Human Towers for Democracy” are supported by the Coordinadora de Colles Castelleres de Catalunya and the organisation Òmnium Cultural within the campaign “Catalans Want to Vote”. This campaign wants to call attention around the globe about the situation in Catalonia, where the Spanish state denies the right of self-determination through the polls of the Catalan people.
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Well, for me they actually have a certain degree of competitiviness, and a proof of it is that every two years a tournament is held: the “Concurs de castells”. This contest is set in Tarragona, where the colles who enter into the tournament compete between them, and we are talking about something like the Champions League of Castells. And I am not kidding.
(If you hit HERE you’ll find a Spanish video I couldn’t link properly where the news reporter says that the Concurs is the Champions League of Castells. Literally!)
Although, they say that the contest is split in three days, but I guess that we could talk more about three contests for each kind of colla. This is, during the season, the colles try to do their best and get classified for sunday, which is the day where the competition is for the biggest prices. So more or less the comparision with the UEFA Champions League is more or less correct, as the CL doesn’t start only with the group phase, but there are a lot of previous qualifying phases. By the same token, colles try to do their best when it comes to a Concurs’ year.
Last friday, when I just stepped into the local casteller the Cap de Colla tackled me:
— Hey Marc — he greeted me, while he was pointing to some fellow companions who were rolling a kids’ rehearsal in the middle of the room. — This is “fer pinya”. And that — then he pointed to the technical commission (I guess i talked about them once)— is “fer UNA pinya” or “fer LA pinya”.
Then I looked at him like the dog who looks a man teaching him to play catch. And then he told me again:
— I tell you because you mistook the difference between “to do pinapple” and “to do A pinapple”.
A diada castellera is the name of a gathering where colles build castells. Nothing more and nothing less.
Diades are held mainly while in the major festivals of a city, town or village, or because a certain festivity, or because on behalf or to honour a colla. This is, according to the CCCC, there are nowadays almost 90 colles castelleres all around the Catalan Countries, and there are, usually, around 53 weeks in a year. This means that last year 2013 castells reached a record with about 10.400 castells raised, as I stated in the previous post. Unfortunately I can’t tell how many diades have been celebrated to achieve this record. Continue reading What is a Diada Castellera?→
Let me please answer first to the second question: I’m fine. Castells didn’t hurt me. It’s just that it has been Christmas holidays, I had troubles with my computer, I had to took it to the workshop, and I am a tad lazy sometimes.
About the first question, there is a huge concern about safety and health within the casteller environment. Castells are an amateur activity and an injury can inflict in the personal or professional life of the castellers.
Although, Castells are relatively safe. And when I say “relatively” it’s because there is no human activity, sport or tradition with risk zero. And castells, although it has improved its safety standards, are not an exception to it.
So, up to this point, we have a bunch of people climbing up the shoulders of other people, to the point that a child climbs up all this bunch of people and raises his hand.
That’s really impressive, and beautiful. And all the people who sees castells for the first time gets shocked. Really. If you come to Barcelona for La Mercè’s fiestas (the week following september 24, they raise castells on Sunday) the only thing you will hear on Sunday at Plaça Sant Jaume will be Japanese girls’ yellings. And I guess you might know how acute they can be.
Anyway, it’s obvious that this mass of people needs someone who manages them. In the sense that they need somebody outside the castell, telling them how they are climbing, who has to climb and when, if the castell is stable or not, to give them support… and much more! Continue reading Who manages a colla?→
Before answering this question, let me remember that a casteller is not necessarily someone who is in the pinya or who climbs up the tronc all the way, but someone who participates in an active way in a colla castellera.
In Catalan, “colla” means “a group of people”. Simple as that. In the casteller environment a “colla” is a team. And something else.
So say it in other words: castellers belong to “colles castelleres”, and colles make castells. Like footballers belong to football clubs and these teams play football with other teams… You can get the idea. Continue reading What is a “colla”?→
“Strength, balance, courage and common sense” its just the translation of “Força, equilibri,valor i seny”. The – unofficial – motto of the castellers.
It’s something like “The Internationale” for the workers, the “Gaudeamus Igitur” for the students or the Hipocratic Oath for the doctors. “Força, equilibri, valor i seny” are nothing but some words that identify a whole community. In this case, the castellers.