Of all the prominent traditions in Catalonia, one of the most stunning are the castellers. Traditionally performed at festivals, castells are groups of people that work together to form human towers. The origin of this remarkable tradition stems from Valls, near the city of Tarragona, in which the first documented group of castellers was in 1712. Throughout the 18th century the tradition expanded to surrounding towns and villages, however only in the recent fifty years has the practice of building castells spread to Catalonia.
In the Catalan language, castell means “castle,” and the configuration is considered a success when the tower is assembled and disassembled in a progression. The formation of the castell is completed in two phases, the first being when the pinya or base of the tower is built in order to support the weight of additional levels of the castell. Upon a signal given, Toc de Castells music is played as a traditional cue in order to alert the lower level castellers about the progression of the construction through different notes in the melody.
The upper levels of the tower are built as quickly as possible in order to minimize the strain on the lower castells supporting their higher counterparts. The configuration is considered complete when the enxaneta (typically a small child) has successfully reached the top and given the traditional four finger salute said to represent the stripes of the Catalan flag. Once the gesture is given, the enxaneta begins the descent down the tower followed by each succeeding level of castells. This is often considered the most dangerous aspect to the formation as it can be easy for the castells to break apart and fall. However one of the most important elements to their costume is a faixa, or sash, worn about the waist of each performer, and serves as a support for not only their core but also as a foot and hand hold to aid in the stability of the structure.
Because this incredibly unique tradition requires strength, support, and communication, it serves to be the perfect metaphor for coworking. Like coworking, it is imperative that all members work together to build each other up in order to reach their end goal. While coworking does not involve constructing a human tower, the concepts are still very much the same as the two both require dedication to their peers, collaborating with the same objective in mind, and trusting each other despite difficult circumstances.