Monday, 16 August 2010

Dancing with Cats (1)


Some years ago we spent a few September days in Barcelona, which is about 4 hours' drive from where we live. We braved the most discouraging stories about the scourge of petty theft, how tourists were liable to have the eyes stolen out of their heads if they didn't look out, but we duly kept our hands on our halfpennies and had a good time.

We stayed at the Hotel Colon, in the old city centre, overlooking the cathedral square. 'Colon' is the Spanish for Columbus, Barcelona being one of the seaports Christopher (Sp. Cristobal - and thereby hangs a tale for my colleague 'Nomenclator' ) C. was associated with and just at the moment I can't remember how and maybe Dave can fill me in.

Anyway, on the Sunday morning of our stay J. and I went up to our room after breakfast to get ready to go out, which involved one hanging over the balcony waiting for the other to vacate the bathroom. There was music in the square below, from a uniformed band mostly of primitive oboes with a drum and a double bass arranged in rows on the cathedral steps. People were dancing, hundreds of them. We watched, fascinated. Several circles formed, broke like amoebae into smaller formations as more and more people arrived to join in this public dance.

We went down and out into the square. Catalans of all ages, out shopping, walking dogs, on their way to mass, kids playing, whatever, stopped what they were doing, leant bicycles against walls, tied dogs to railings, put their shopping or handbags in a heap in the middle of the dance and joined in this very stately round dance that I imagine everyone must have known since childhood, like Scots kids do with The Dashing White Sergeant.

We watched, daring each other to go and join in. We could have joined in anywhere, though you're not supposed to split partners. Dancers willingly made room for newcomers. It looked simple enough. Hands held with your neighbours at waist height. Point, step, step, cross to the left. Point step, step, cross to the right. Repeated several times, as far as I remember. Then with hands held at shoulder height, the same pattern, faster.

Well, cowards that we were, we never did join in. This was the famous Sardana, the national dance of Catalonia, a thing of great popular pride and a symbol of Catalan unity. After about an hour the band ran out of puff and the dancers dispersed.

I'm sometimes reminded of this when I glance across to the panel of 'followers' just over there --> on the right. Some of my blogospherically nearest and dearest have installed themselves comfortably (bit of an anomaly sometimes between the number given and the number of thumbnails, Vicus) in the merry dance of my two or three posts a week. But some are complete strangers and I've no idea who they are. Two Russians have joined recently, Helena and someone in a Santa Claus outfit whose name I can't read. And what I really want to say to these and to Jim Kearns, archie oxygen, gamallomousy, pagan sphinx and anyone else that appears overnight is Hi, thank you for joining in, and please stay for as long as I have puff to keep going.

I don't suppose any of you are in the Sardana clip below? I'm ashamed to say we aren't.


12 comments:

Dave said...

Cristobal Colon worked in Barcelona as a surgeon's assistant (he had originally been taken on as a model, to be used in instructing students, due to an amusing confusion over his name).

Following an unfortunate incident involving the youngest daughter of Don Ramiro González, he was forced to flee the country, stowing away in a boat setting off for the Indies.

Unfortunately, hiding the metal box containing his wordly goods in the same cupboard as the ship's compass led to the vessel sailing on a reciprocal course.

The rest, as they say, is history...

Christopher said...

Thank you, Dave: I knew I could rely on you. But then investigating someone by the name of Colon should be simply a matter of joining the dots.

I didn't know you included embroidery among your many accomplishments.

Dave said...

I can also sew buttons on.

Christopher said...

Well then you're just the bloke I need because the button holding my mason's trousers up sprang off yesterday while I was manipulating a slab of sandstone.

Dave said...

I'm on my way.

Vicus Scurra said...

Columbus landed at Barcelona on his return from the new world. He brought with him a holding midfielder and a striker from Argentina, a striker and winger from Brazil and a Mexican defender. They all played the next season at the Nou Camp, which was then called the Brand Spanking Nou Camp. When I say all, I, of course, do not mean Columbus. He was more of a golfer.

The tall chap with the white tee shirt and blue trousers is a bit of a show off isn't he? I like him.

I shall be appearing on the disco floor at my school reunion next month, but only if they play some music that I recognise.

Sarah said...

I'm only moving over,(--->) and making room for, a man who is good looking or amusing, preferably both. Which incidentally is my rule of thumb at arranging the seating for a dinner party.

Christopher said...

Vicus: Thank you. I think I now know all I need to about Columbus. However Dave wants to know if you and he were at school together, but doesn't dare ask.

Sah: When is it? I've arranged - hope you don't mind - for Dave and Vicus to sit either side of you, and I shall alternate between the knees of first one and then the other. That way you should be fully accommodated. Will there be chips? And custard?

Oooh.

I, Like The View said...

we had a similar experience once, just around the corner from Biarritz

I'd share it with you, only my 13 year-old has just had two teeth extracted (in preparation for orthodontic work, you understand) and needs my attention

Charlene said...

That sounds like a lovely time!

I don't think it's polite to regularly read anything you won't admit to. It feels like stalking.

Christopher said...

Dave: Have you arrived yet? Do you need picking up from somewhere?

I,LTV: Another time? I might be on this theme for a post or two.

Charlene: Hi. Yes, it was, thank you. But isn't it stalkers/lurkers that make the blogosphere spin?

mig said...

Some lovely footwork there!