As you may all know, Viscata was founded in Barcelona, one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities in Spain, which is also the perfect representative of the Mediterranean lifestyle. But, what does this mean? Well, it is actually all about loving life, living well and dancing.
As part of our new resolution of sharing with you, all those Viscata lovers, a little bit of Spanish culture, we are going to talk about a very peculiar dance.
Traditionally, the image of Spain is connected to the passion and energy of Flamenco, the driving Latin beats of Salsa, and even the rougher and more contemporary sounds of Reggaeton.
But underneath all this passion lies a softer side and that comes out clearly in the dance form known as Sardana, which is typical from Catalonia. While a city like Barcelona embraces all of the musical genres we’ve mentioned (plus many others), there is something simple and charming about the Sardana.
So, what is the Sardana?
The Sardana is a traditional Catalan dance and is normally danced in a circle, following a pre-rehearsed set of steps. Men and women (and children) form a circle by holding hands and facing towards each other. It represents brotherhood, equality and liberty.
They then take meticulously counted steps (usually 2-3 step movements) taken sideways within the circle. Directions of the steps can change and usually dancers place their hands on their hips or shoulders. And then, occasionally they’ll throw in a little jump or a hop here and there to make sure you’re paying attention. Sometimes, they’ll alter the direction of the turning circle, just to keep everybody on their toes.
Sardana's dancing steps
Sardanistas (as they are called those who dance it) are of all shapes, sizes and ages and some of them are semi professionals, gathered under the auspices of a local club or community group, where they train for the special occasions.
It must be pointed out that there are two types of Sardana - the Sardana Curta (which usually lasts about 5 minutes) or the longer Sardana llarga (which usually last around 12 minutes)
Where does it come from?
Although it is still quite unclear from when this typical dance can be dated (some people believe it was already popular in the 16th c.), what is certain is that it was popular by the end of the 19th c. in the Empordá (north east of Catalonia). It actually became and emblem of Catalan identity and nationalism.
After the Spanish Civil War and during the dictatorship of General Franco, like many other entertainments, the Sardana was outlawed for the same reasons mentioned above. Later on, in 2010, the Catalan government decided this dance was worthy enough to declare it of national interest.
Music to dance to
However, as everybody knows, every dance needs a soundtrack, so with the Sardana, there is usually a small orchestra or band involved, the cobla. This orchestra comprises of 11 people, usually playing 10 wind instruments and a bass and a small hand drum.
You’ll normally see these "Sardanistes" at fiestas and special occasions across Catalonia. It’s definitely well worth watching these dancers weaving in and out of their pulsating circles.
But this is Spain, so don’t be shy. The Sardana is for everyone. It is not a particularly fast dance, as compared to other dances like sevillanas, and you don't need to be a professional dancer to enjoy it. Spectators are allowed (and encouraged) to join the dance circle at any time. All they have to do is to know the basic steps, drop their coat and bag in the centre of the circle and join in. It’s as simple as that.
Don't forget this the next time you are walking around Barcelona's cathedral square and see people dancing in circles.
What does this all have to do with espadrilles?
The answer is quite easy and logical. In order for the dancers to dance well, they have to wear the right shoes. Just like a ballerina does. They must be flexible enough to allow the dancers to jump every so often but comfortable enough to carry them through an afternoon of dancing.
"Sardanistes" settled on a traditional version of the espadrille, known locally as the Espardenya. Each catalan area does have its regional variation. The Espardenyas are a version of the classic espadrille and they are made of a special grass fabric called esparto.
Just like their espadrille cousins, they come with two long fabric strips to secure them to your ankle and to add that little extra bit of style. Sardanistes do prefer the white model with black cotton ribbons.
Here’s a little video of some Sardanistas in action (video courtesy of Family Adventure Project.)
The Viscata Way
Viscata stands for the respect of Spanish traditional culture and heritage, like the Sardana dance.
Viscata’s espadrilles share the same tradition and DNA as Sardana's espardenyas, but we’ve added modern textiles and breathable fabrics to ensure that they are hard wearing and comfortable all year round. Viscata is built on natural materials and ancient methods of shoemaking that have stood the test of time.
That's actually why our espadrilles take time and why they are made by hand, honoring ancient traditions.
You just need to check our our wide range of styles and pick your favorite model. We have a great selection of high and low heel wedges, flatforms and flat espadrilles, some of the latter very similar to the traditional espardenyas used by Sardana dancers like, for example,our Candell linen flats.
There is one Viscata design for every woman and for every man. For every style and occasion.
So, next time you’re in the mood for a little dancing, don’t forget to slip on a pair of Viscatas and imagine you’re in Barcelona. Or, even better, if you’re ever in town to see a Sardana yourself, don’t forget to join in. Always remember to pack your Viscatas ;)
The Viscata Way is the Spanish Way.