La Festa Major de Gracia

August 21, 2006 at 11:46 am 4 comments

Last week is a blur. From the beach trip last Sunday, all through the week up to today was a roller coaster. The weekend was spent recovering and I can tell you that Alex and I are lightweights when it comes to partying.

Most of the week was spent in the company of Franko, Detlef, Jackie, Naomi and Sebastian. We had everyone over for drinks when la festa gracia started. The intent was to gather in a central location, have a few drinks and off to the parties in Gracia afterwards. It poured rain, and I mean poured. Water was coming in the windows and we’re on the fourth floor. There was a lot of wind and thunder and lightening that finally let up around midnight. Mandy and Nat left to go home and the rest of us headed into Gracia. Gracia is a neighborhood a few blocks away from where we live. Way back, when Barcelona was a small town, Gracia was a neighboring village. At some point an area known as Eixample was designed and built, effectively joining Barcelona and Gracia. You’d know immediately on entering Gracia because the streets are narrow, one lane affairs left over from medieval times. The houses and shops are all very old and the area still has a village like atmosphere. There are many squares or placas where people gather in the evenings. It seems to attract creative types and people with a more bohemian lifestyle. If you visit some of the placas, you’d swear you were back in the 60’s watching hippies gather. It’s an eclectic mix of people because there are also families with lots of young children. Alex and I usually walk up there after dinner and sit in either placa Revolucio or placa Rius i Taulet (catalan names) and watch all the children playing. The children playing is a subject all of its own and Alex should really comment on that. Anyhow, enough of the backgraound.

This festa is one of the largest in Barcelona and lasts all week, from 15 to the 21 of August. Each neighbourhood goes all out to decorate their streets and organize activites. Prizes are awarded for many different things, from decorations to music to other activites. One of the really intersting activites is a competition involving castelleres. Alex will explain this activity in her blog.
As I said, all the streets are decorated and from the following photos you would not even know they were streets. The creativity demonstrated was awesome. Alex and I had observed one group over the summer and wondered what they were doing and I’ll let Alex comment on them because we really felt for them after the first night.

This is one street that we came across during our wanderings. Note the crowds, the time is well after midnight.

On middle verdi we came across the winning street. Their theme was war of the worlds and you could see the time and massive effort that went into this production.

Each area had stages set up in the middle of the decorations where live groups played all typers of music. There were poets reading their poetry and dancing. All high quality I might add.

On upper verdi the theme was a fantasy world. These figures are over 3 metres high and the owl stretched almost across the street. I might add that every single one of these displays, all over gracia, used only recycled materials. Plastic bottles, plastic bags, newspaper, all recycled.

This last photo is in B&W as the original color had lighting that made it so monochromatic. Each one of the styrofoam balls had been hand carved by someone. It was like walking through a dream world.

Everything seemd to end that week. Detlef was the first one to return home to Lisbon. Franko left on Thursday. I was really glad to get to know these people and they certainly left me with a lasting impression. Franko and I hit it off from day one. I felt like I had known him for a long time and hopefully I will be able to say that. He will return to BCN before Alex and I return to Toronto. Another bit of news, Naomi and Xavi have split up after three years together. Naomi is living with us until she can find a new place to live. I hope both of them are ok.

By the way, during the week, everyone was ill. Alex is still under the weather but is on the road to recovery. I guess the quiet weekend helped a bit.

Here’s a poem in catalan. I think it was written for the festa 2006 and I think it’s titled

Del mati, i fins l’horabaixa,
i de nits, al carrer estant,
tots aquells que anem de marxa
haurem de complir aquest Ban.

No badem, que aqui la festa
es festa de molta gent,
gent que penca, gent valenta,
gent que ho fa per l’altra gent.

Tindrem tecs i fartaneres,
hi haura trons i timbalers,
i sabors de nits rumberes
i les taules al carrer.

Nomes fins a quarts de tres,
que la nit ens pot abatre.
Ja els divendres i els dissabtes
plegarem a quarts de quatre.

Comte haurem amb les begudes,
l’alcofoll i els combinats
no van be per les arrugues
ni tampoc pels arrugats.

Si amb la birra ens ve pixera
hem d’anar alla on mes conve,
no fotessim cagalera:
al baci, i apuntem be!

Els qui tenen bar i barra
hauran de deixar passar
als qui de tant anar de farra
tenen ganes de buidar.

Reciclem plats, gots i ampolles,
no omplim de brossa el carrer.
I tambe, si anem en colla,
no fotem tant de merder.

Deixem l’auto a prop de casa,
que conve no perdre punts.
Si arribem ballant a Gracia
maxarem sabent-ne un munt!

Rumbes, tangos i boleros,
rock, pasdobles i fogots
i un ballar tan sandunguero
que enamora el meu xicot!

Portem cara de conquesta,
portem roba de coto
perque si crema la festa
no ens faci fred ni calor!

Que hi ha diables a la placa
i un feroc drac volador,
que hi ha gent que pica en terra
ballant a cops de basto.

I gegants, i gent que puja
pel damunt d’un munt de gent,
i un dimoni i una bruixa
empaitant tot el jovent.

Sota un cel de serpentines
avui sopem al carrer.
Tot xerrant amb la veina,
que en farem de mullader!

Crits i amunt! que ja comenca,
la de Gracia es festa gran
p erque el poble es qui la pensa
i de nits la va somiant!

Donat a Barcelona l’agost del 2006

I don’t understand a lot of it but the parts I do are all about Gracia and this festa major.

Have a great week.

Entry filed under: Barcelona, Blog, Catalan, La Festa Major de Gracia, Parties, Poetry, Spain.

Language issues Mac Pro – A Dream

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Leonie Ebert  |  August 21, 2006 at 11:37 pm

    Hi Alan
    What a great description of a fascinating fiesta. Thank you-wish I was there. Naomi said it was the 4 best days she had in a long time. My discussions with Naomi makes me feel she is on the whole pretty relaxed even though it was a difficult decision she made to split from Xavi so that is good.
    What a superb Computer. I should imagine it is pretty expensive. I think you are having an influence on Naomi’s interest in computers. When we talked last night she mentioned how she would like to have a Mac sometime.
    I wish, we in Australia, could have imported the rain you experienced. This has been the driest August on record since time weather records were first kept. My garden and of course the farmers need rain badly.
    I am still into house maintenance-new curtains for the dinning room and matching blinds for the kitchen. Sandy, a heritage developer, was here yesterday to measure up the verandah etc and discuss colours so that the front of our home can be restored to its original glory. It is some thing Graham, my late husband, and I wanted to do for years.
    Also organising with the Psychologists for Peace, a commemoration for Sept 21, UN International Peace Day here at 213 Gover Street. I am doing this on behalf of the Graham F Smith Peace Trust.
    Happy to know Alex is improving.
    Warm regards

  • 2. Sebastian  |  August 23, 2006 at 11:21 am

    hi alan,
    you have a great way of writing, i really love to read your texts. it’s true we had a fantastic time the last two weeks and franko and detlef took a big part in it. but not only them it is you and alex aswell who always are in good mode and so harmonic, it is really impressive and i’m glad we met you both.
    let’s see what we can organize for this weekend before worklife starts again. we were planing to go to the ebro delta with you and naomi, let’s find out a nice place to stay.

    un abrazo

  • 3. HD  |  August 23, 2006 at 11:52 pm

    Very nice pics Alan! And those decorations, like a magical dream world. Did the rain not damage it?

  • 4. Antoni  |  August 27, 2006 at 11:55 am

    Here in Catalonia, in most of the places, its a tradition to start every “Festa Major” with those types of poems called “ban” or “pregó”. They explains all the events of the party and how beautiful are.
    Nice pics!


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