Traditional Catalan dancing. Photo by Josep Puigdemont.

Traditional Catalan dancing. Photo by Josep Puigdemont.

If you’ve read my previous posts, you presumably now have a hot Catalan girlfriend and have mastered drinking wine from your porró, the squirty Catalan wine pitcher. The obvious next step is to dance with your Catalan gal while drinking from your porró.

Fortunately, drunken Catalan dancing has a storied past; and I found a literally crumbling old book with the evidence: El Diccionari de la Dansa, dels Entremesos, i dels Instruments de Música i Sonadors (The Dictionary of Dance, Short-Form Entertainments and Musical Instruments). That’s right, y’all, Tipsy Pilgrim spent a day in the library.

Of the hundreds of Catalan dances in this 1936 ethnographic pan-Catalonia study, there were at least three folk dances that called for heavy wine drinking while dancing. To perform each of them, you should drink from — but attempt to not break — a fragile porró.

 Ball del Porró

The Porró Dance

Place a porró full of wine on the head of the gentleman and a coca (small, pizza-like flatbread typical of Catalonia) on the head of the lady. The two of you dance together, slowly “marking out a soft and relaxed step”, until you reach the other end of the plaza, at which point you eat the coca and drink the wine. The gentleman should then dismiss his gal, pick up another, and again make his way across the plaza with more wine and another coca. This must not stop until the gentleman’s porró falls and breaks.

 Rossinyol

Nightingale

This dance is performed in taverns and inns by men only. Place porrós on your heads, and sing about nightingales building a nest. Unfortunately, the details of the steps have been lost to the ages.

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 Dansa

Dance3

Another dance for men only. A flabiol (one-handed Catalan flute) is played as the men dance in a circle; when it stops, the dance’s leader of the moment must grab the porró from the center of the circle and drink as the men sing:

Oh my God, little Mary,
what luck you have
now, now, now …
now that summer’s coming.1

The catch is that those singing can repeat the word “now” for as long as they want, and the drinker cannot lower the porró until the entire refrain has ended. Obviously this power is meant to be abused.

 

To watch or partake in traditional Catalan folk dances:2 For the sardana, ball de bastons (stick dance), ball de gitanes (gypsy dance) and others, check with the group Esbart Català de Dansaires in and around Barcelona. The site is Catalan only; use Google translate to figure out what’s on or call +34 93.318.82.59 or +34 93.303.10.01 and ask about their upcoming events and dance classes. No guarantees that they’ll do the porró dances above.

To find Catalans drinking beer while dancing/unsteadily weaving: Head to the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona, where there are many small clubs with rowdy pop groups, as well as streets full of drunks staggering to their own beat. The best listings for musical events in the city are to be found at lecool or at Bcnweek.

Thanks once again to our hero at El Fem Fatal for advice on the Catalan language; she of course has nothing to do with drunken porró dancing.

NOTES:

1. Valga’m Déu, Marieta,
quina sort que teniu,
ara, ara, ara,
ara que ve l’estiu.

2. Most tourists in Barcelona who watch dance go to the just-for-tourists flamenco shows, which have sprung up to serve those who erroneously believe they are visiting Spain. This makes about as much sense as heading to China for sushi. For excellent flamenco, visit Flamenco’s homeland, the south of Spain, or else Madrid, where many of the great musicians wind up living.

3. This is a rather generic name, but apparently in the town of Tosses d’Alp this was all that was needed to refer to this step.