Submitted by: Mathieu Quintart
There is lots of dancing to be experienced in Barcelona and one in particular you really should try to at least watch, if not try yourself, is the Sardana, the national dance of Catalunya and an important part of Catalan culture as it’s seen as a representation of their identity and pride.
The Catalans were viewed as a threat by the dictator Franco who ruled the country from the end of the 40’s to ’75, he hated them for their strong independence and refusal to submit to his rule, as a result he banned many of their local customs and traditions including the Catalan language and the Sardana in an attempt to beak their spirit. This is partly why the dance is so popular these days, loyal and proud the Catalans are keen to keep their traditions alive and teach the younger generations about who they are, as well as providing a sense of unity.
You’ll be able to see this traditional style of dancing everywhere in the region and at various places around the city itself, check out the Pla a de la Catedral on a Saturday night or Sunday morning where the dances are held frequently, or Plaza Jaume I and other squares during the summer evenings. Anyone can join in whatever their age, sex or attire, as the dancers form a circle and join hands they raise them in the air and dance with very small, defined steps. Circling slowly round and round other dancers join the circle, when it gets too big more are started and the end result can often be 4 or 5 circles of dancing people which is a lovely sight to behold and a great symbol of togetherness.
Accompanying the dancing is an 11-piece cobla band with a varied selection of brass instruments, the flaviol – a type of flute – takes the lead and the tambourine sets the rhythm. If you’re really interested in seeing Catalan culture then there’s a profusion of rental apartments in the city centre for those interested in experiencing the real Barcelona.
The Catalans’ love a good festival and there seems to be an endless stream of them, particularly during summer. You’ll see the Sardana dance performed at many, such as September’s Festes de la Merc where you can also expect to see dwarfs, human castles and massive papier-m ch giants dressed as princesses and fishermen, as well as the famous correfoc where devils dance throughout the streets, waving tridents that shoot out fireworks and daring spectators to try to touch fire-breathing dragons.
The Sardana is also demonstrated at The Focs de Sant Joan festival in June, in the weeks before the main event the locals go crazy with firecrackers and on the night of 23 June there are bonfires and firework displays all over the city and down on the beach. The L’Ou Com Balla L’Ou Com Balla – the dancing egg – features circle dances outside the cathedral and was started back in 1637. Hollowed-out eggshells are set spinning and bobbing on fountains throughout the region which have been dressed with flowers especially for the event – also watch out for the Sunday Corpus Christi procession as it leaves from the cathedral in the early evening.
If you’re not sure where to stay then check out the many accommodation websites that will help you make your mind up. In every city now can be found boutique hotels as they offer great value for money and generally have the latest mod cons, including free access to the internet. Anyone travelling with limited funds will still be able to find cheap accommodation in some areas although they are very likely to be basic and the d cor might not be up to much. Parents visiting the city with young children in tow might be better off renting an apartment for their short break as it is less expensive and offers more of a home environment.
Busy all year round, Barcelona receives an influx of visitors over the weekends and during school holidays, people are attracted to the city for its infamous clubbing venues and it’s a popular location for stag and hen nights. Business people also like it here as facilities are modern and it’s a central meeting point in Europe, thus mid-range hotels are generally booked up during the week so ensure you always book early to avoid any disappointment.
Rent yourself a city apartment and you can easily get to the best festivals and catch some traditional Catalonian dancing mentioned here. If you feel you haven’t seen enough then you can always come back for more later in the year.
About the Author: Mathieu Quintart writes articles for CocoonBarcelona, a vendor of vacation and holiday
accommodation in Barcelona
. CocoonBarcelona visits and inspects each
apartment for rent
to make sure the descriptions of the listed apartments in Barcelona are truthful.