Traditional human towers return at heart of tradition after 20-month hiatus

Valls host 'castellers' Covid clinical trial with 100 local team members

The team of Joves Chiquets de Valls after building a human tower (by Anna Ferràs)
The team of Joves Chiquets de Valls after building a human tower (by Anna Ferràs) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 25, 2021 06:12 PM

Castellers are back. Valls,  the epicenter of the Catalan human towers in southern Catalonia, have witnessed the first show for the first time since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The ‘castells’ were performed by two of the oldest teams of human towers in Valls, La Colla Vella and Joves dels Xiquets de Valls, with just 50 members each due to the restrictions. 

Both teams raised two pillars of five to culminate the pilot test that began in early June, with a strict Covid-19 protocol. Since the first rehearsal, every participant had undergone five antigen tests, the last one on the day of the performance. 

The show was unprecedented, with many members of both teams sitting as public, following security and healthy measures. After singing ‘Els Segadors’, the official national anthem of Catalonia, the human towers were built and raised without any difficulty in the Plaça del Blat square. 

One of the participants of Joves Xiquets de Valls’ team, Nerea Moreno, stated: “we have been very excited. We are slowly starting again and we hope we can get the whole team back together.” 

Llàtzer Magrinyà, a member of the other crew expressed: “even if it is not a big deal, you get nervous. This is just one more step closer to the end of this nightmare.” 

Seven days after the ‘diada’ the participants will have to undergo a last test. According to the head of the primary care center of Valls and co-medical director of the Pius Hospital, Maria Magrinyà: “with these last tests we will finish validating the negative results of all the people who have participated during the day.” 

What are human towers? 

Castellers” (Catalan for castles) are basically human towers, they are usually built by dozens or even hundreds of people coming closely together to sustain the base of the ‘castell’. The human tower is only complete once the ‘enxaneta’, usually a child who can be as young as five, clambers to the very top of the structure and raises their arms. 

There are 'colles' in towns and cities all over Catalonia, each with their own colored shirts, that spend months practising at building the tallest and most complex human constructions.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, human towers have been unable to go ahead, whereas normally there would be around 900 events and 10,000 ‘castells’ built each year. Last year it was the 10-anniversary of “Castellers” being declared one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, and it was not possible to celebrate it unfortunately.