Happy Sant Jordi!

Today is Sant Jordi. It has nothing (or at least not much) to do with castells.

Nevertheless, Sant Jordi is a special day in Catalonia, because we celebrate a lot of things:

We celebrate our Saint patron.

We celebrate Catalonia.

We celebrate books and roses.

We celebrate love.

We celebrate springtime.

We celebrate that schoolboys and schoolgirls stroll up and down the streets.

We celebrate that somebody brought roses to the women at our workplace, and that the company (usually the good ones) gives books to the employees.

We celebrate culture.

We celebrate flirting.

We celebrate the streets, the villages and the main squares.

We celebrate that all the official buildings in Catalonia are open to people.

We celebrate that today media gets out from their studios and comes closer to the citizens, occupying the streets.

We celebrate discounts from some shops, too.

We celebrate because we like to celebrate.

We celebrate because it’s Sant Jordi and it’s the best day you can spent in Catalonia.

Visca Sant Jordi!

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The London School of Castells.

Alex Diaz-Manero asks me not to tell how much he has been living in London. “It’s confidencial — he says — only my best friend knows it and if he tells he would be violating the Data Protection Act”. He is one of the instigators of The London School of Castells, one of the some samples of this cultural fact worldwide. 

With a huge increase of Catalan population due to the Spanish  Crisis, it was already time that somebody engaged a Castells-related activity

So we decided to have a nice Q&A with him.

Tell me about the school of castells, how did it started? And, especially, why?

I am the administrator of a Facebook group named “Catalans a Londres” that now has near 2000 people in it. There I met Ingrid Hurtado, who comes from Micacos de Badalona. My sisters were at that Colla for some years and already met Ingrid. Anyway, it was Ingrid who asked “why don’t we create a colla castellera in London?”. That put the idea in my mind and I thought “ok let’s start looking for people, Facebook is a great tool for that purpose”. Also I commented with people also had considered to do workshops to practice the technique. At first we did the first workshops at Regent’s Park in the summer of 2013. 

I hope that, being a school is there someone who already did castells?

Yes, there are already up to ten people with ample experience who reside in London or its outskirts and who have come at least once to the workshops. They can teach the novices that come along. But so far has not been possible to gather them all at the same day and time. And there are more people interested with experience but they are working long hours or weekends in London or live too far away and sadly cannot attend. Continue reading The London School of Castells.

Castells from the view of people from New York City

Yesterday i had the opportunity to attend a special Castellers de Barcelona rehearsal, as they were hosts of a group of New Yorkers. The youth football school – oh, sorry, “soccer” school – Manhattan Kickers FC came to Barcelona for their yearly trip, and one of the activities scheduled were castells. They actually knew nothing about castells when they crossed the door of the building, but I bet they will remember that evening most of their life.

The visit started with some explanations from some members of Castellers de Barcelona about what castells are and what they mean to Catalan culture, and the screening of the video made when castells became UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage:

The little players and their parents were very impressed about the fact that castells may fall, and actually one of the questions was precisely about the injures. Dídac, one of the organisers, make the audience laugh when he said “Castells are safer than playing football”. Well, he was in front of a football team! Afterwards, they went downstairs to the rehearse track (I have to say that the building of Castellers de Barcelona is really huge) where they witnessed the rise of three welcome pillars by the Castellers. and then, some of them got sash-rolled.

It’s a fun moment, when you sash-roll somebody who has never seen a castell in his or her life, because most of them don’t know what are they going to do. They are confused and excited at the same time. The excitement of a first-timer is always a lot of fun.  Continue reading Castells from the view of people from New York City

Castells overseas!

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.

Continue reading Castells overseas!