Thursday, 29 April 2010

Human Towers to Celebrate Sant Jordi

Sant Jordi is celebrated with human towers in many places in Catalonia, among them Vilanova i la Geltrú, where the local team (colla) Bordegassos also took the opportunity to celebrate its 38th birthday and this on the first Sunday after the actual Saint George’s day. For the most active castellers, the day started already at 8:30 in the morning with matinades - the team walked around to music played on gralles and erected human pillars in front of selected houses. Here I must admit that I felt I need to sleep in and, therefore, only showed up around noon, in time for the performance (actuació) at plaça de la Vila.

Our guests for the day were two of the most well-known castellers-teams - Joves Xiquets de Valls and Castellers de Barcelona - which, combined with a fantastic summer weather, resulted in a lot of spectators.

Joves Xiquets de Valls - one of Catalonia's four top teams – will later in the season make human towers of nine levels and, as expected, stood for the most advanced constructions this day. The opened with 8de4 and went on with 5de7 and 4de7 amb l'agulla (explanations of the names at the end of the post).

Castellers de Barcelona will build several towers of eight levels during the coming summer. Here they assembled and dissassembled 5de7, Torre de 7 and 3de7 aixecat per sota.

We ourselves, Bordegassos the Vilanova, is the weakest of these three teams, but here at home (where you always have more camises ("shirts", in this context representing team members) in the square, were challenged by our coaches to reach our maximum level from last year. And so we did, greatly thanks to super achievements by some castellers who managed to hold together shaky towers: 5de7, 4de7 amb l'agulla, 3de7 and vano de 5.

The next appearance for Joves Xiquets de Valls and Bordegassos the Vilanova is on Sunday May 2, at. 13:00 in the Festa Major petita of the small town Cabra del Camp (Tarragona). The Castellers the Barcelona’s next appearance is May 9, at. 12:15 in the plaça de la Paeria in Lleida, together with the Castellers de Lleida and Xiquets de Tarragona.

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A brief introduction to the names of Catalonia's human towers:

  • A pilar is a single column or pillar of people, standing on each other's shoulders. A pilar de 5 has five levels. A vano de cinc are three pillars next to each other where the centre column has five levels.
  • A torre consists of two people per level, except for the top two ones. A torre de 7 has seven levels, the top two ones included.
  • Bigger castells have names such as 4de8 (4 by 8, in my translation), where 4 indicates that it consist of four people per level (the top three ones - pom de dalt - excluded) and 8 that it has eight levels (the top three ones included).
  • The dificulty of a human tower can be increased if it is dismantled via a pilar, then called agulla (hence: 4de7 amb l'agulla).
  • Another way to increase the difficulty level is to erect the tower bottom up (aixecat per sota) which means that the upper levels are not climbing, but raised up into position by the base (pinya).
  • In rankings, it is to crown or assemble a human tower (carregar or, alternatively, coronar), which gives the main part of the score, but for full points it also has to be dismantled in a controlled way (descarregar).

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