Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hold me tight

Don't look for naughty double entendres, the second story of this pilar really requires such solid propping

(Colla: Minyons de Terrassa)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Una de Siniestro Total

No se porqué, pero ultimamente los grandes éxitos de los genios de Siniestro Total me vienen a la memoria... sobretodo aquella canción que decía en el estribillo aquello de "...te lo pido una vez más/no me toques la pirola jamás..."

Creo que la voy a adoptar como himno:

"tra-la-la-la , no me toques la pirola,
pa-pa-ra-pa, no me toques la pirola,
doo-dah-doo-dah , no me toques la pirola máaas"

(ya "sus" habreis dado cuenta de la sutil autocensura, no vaya a ser que me lo saquen fuera de contexto, ahem)

Friday, September 15, 2006


The last post about the Tres de Deu castells has prompted me to look through my old collection of photographs and select a number of them for this and the next posts.

Featured here is an image of a castell by the Castellers de Barcelona collapsing. In casteller lingo, this is described by the expression "fer llenya" ("Timber!").

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tres de Deu (I was there)

The recent news about Castells ("Human Towers") in London's Regent Street and also the Tres de Deu (see an image here) recently crowned by the Castellers de Vilafranca in Sant Fèlix 's day has prompted me to check my photo archive, and write about the Tres de Deu towers I've had the privilege to witness.

But, what is a Tres de deu?
A Tres de Deu is a ten-story high castell. Time ago, it was discussed whether such a mammoth structure was actually achievable, as the eight and nine-story castells are difficult enough to achieve and only the colles ("teams") with enough technique, personnel and history have mastered them. Among the recent colles (that is, those founded in the recent years as the castells' tradition bloomed again and beyond its historical terrain) it is considered a feat to achieve eight-story castells, and in fact, before the nine-story towers were re-conquered in the late 20th century, few colles were capable of building an eight-story castell.

The Minyons start to build the tower

As the nine-story castells became more usual, some colles began to ponder about the actual chances of building ten-story castells, which would become a reality as the 20th century reached its end.

The first ever Tres de deu towers: November 1998
In summer 1998, word spread among castells aficionados that two colles, the Castellers de Vilafranca and the Minyons de Terrassa, were working in the achievement of that gigantic -and believed impossible- structure.
The Castellers de Vilafranca tried to treat their fans in Sant Fèlix's day by doing it for the first time ever, 1998, but their dogged efforts weren't successful. They didn't renounce, though, and in November 15th, 1998, the Tres de Deu amb folre i manilles became a reality (see the photo here). The tower collapsed before it could be dismounted, but was crowned successfully.

The enxaneta lifts her arm: the Tres de Deu is crowned (Minyons de Terrassa)

I wasn't at Vilafranca that day but was lucky enough to witness, one week after that, the second Tres de Deu ever. The day was freezing cold and snow began to fall during the act. When the moment came the Minyons started to build the tower. Everything was going fine, the structure was solid and the little enxaneta, who was to crown the tower, was on her way up. Suddenly she fell and everyone thought that the act was over. Fortunately for the little girl, she came out with no broken bones, though her mouth was bleeding, and she was understandably too scared to try again.

The Minyons dismounted the structure swiftly and without trouble, and then they started to build it up again with another enxaneta. The technique was so astounding that they made it look easy, though it is a construction of the utmost difficulty. In this second attempt, the castell was crowned and, with awesome skill, dismounted for the first time ever. It was November 22nd, 1998. A day to remember.

This was one of those occasions when one regrets not to have a proper camera at hand, but you can see their own photo here and further pictures and videos videos in their own website.

XVIIIConcurs de Castells a Tarragona, 2000

In the 2000 casteller contest at Tarragona, the Castellers de Vilafranca attempted again the Tres de Deu but failed, but after much labor, the tower collapsed as it was reaching its pinnacle. It was the Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls which, for the first time in their history, crowned the giant.

Llenya!: the tower collapses (Castellers de Vilafranca)

La Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls starts the structure

The Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls, about to achieve their first Tres de Déu

Some links about castells
Here you have further links about castells. Of course, there are more than that, but I hope these will be a good place to start with. In them you will find news, calendars, photos, videos and chronicles of tower-building feats. Some of these links have English pages.
Colles castelleres :
Colla Jove de Tarragona: the oldest webpage about castells
Minyons de Terrassa
Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls
Colla Joves Xiquets de Valls
Castellers de Vilafranca
Capgrossos de Mataró: The colla which performed in London recently.

Other links (blogs, news, reviews & opinions): : Diari electrónic de Temàtica castellera
Web Casteller, portal d'informació castellera
Món Casteller
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