All posts by Marc Figuerola Delgado

Human Towers.cat

This article was first published in Catalan at 2015 Revista Castells‘ yearbook. #47

If 2014 has been an extraordinary season at home, outside it has been a significative year. The iniciative Human Towers for Democracy, the Concurs de Castells and the news on world-class media have exported the fet casteller everywhere. While the event promoted by Òmnium Cultural brought castells to six european cities, the Concurs had international recall and castells in its whole have been object of reports on some extraordinary headers, like the article, cover included, that The New York Times dedicated to the Santa Úrsula diada to symbolise the process of Catalonia to sovereignty.

2014 has marked a milestone, because several initiatives were born to recognise not only the castells made at home, but to appreciate the work of the colles working overseas. Apart from those already consolidated colles, during the past year several casteller initiatives emerged worldwide. Continue reading Human Towers.cat

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Videos from the top of a Castell

The 2014 season just started, and there are already two colles who begin to try POV cameras from the enxanetes: Castellers de Vilafranca and Minyons de Terrassa, and the videos are astoundingly beautiful and absolutely not suitable for those with vertigo nor overprotective parents.  Continue reading Videos from the top of a Castell

A colla in Brussels!

There are a lot of initiatives around the world about castells and human towers brought out by Catalans, and especially in those places where the presence of Catalan people is stronger. One of these places is Brussels, with the biggest Casal Català, or Catalan House, around the world.

Marta Meix is the founder and cap de colla of Castellers Bxl Foyer, the colla castellera from Brussels. Born as a way of integrate people from several nationalities and cultures, this colla reflects the true power of a colla castellera: it doesn’t matter from where the people comes, their creed or their social status, as in the colla everybody counts the same to raise the castell. Continue reading A colla in Brussels!

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!

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!

Are castells a competition?

Yes. And no. But yes. Let me explain it better:

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.

Continue reading Are castells a competition?

Lingo

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”.

This is a template for a "three" pinya. Castellers in the technical team put the names of the people in the squares, to set them up in every place. PHOTO: Birreiros
This is a template for a “three” pinya. Castellers in the technical team write the names of the castellers in the squares, to set them up in their  place in the pinya. PHOTO: Birreiros

Continue reading Lingo

What is a Diada Castellera?

A diada castellera is the name of a gathering where colles build castells. Nothing more and nothing less.

This is a poster of the "Diada dels Quatre Fuets" in Berga. Featuring Castellers de Berga, Castellers de Barcelona and Castellers de Sabadell
This is a poster of the “Diada dels Quatre Fuets” in Berga. Featuring Castellers de Berga, Castellers de Barcelona and Castellers de Sabadell

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?