BALL DE DIABLES DE L'ARBOÇ As it
is known nowadays, Ball de Diables (dance of devils) shows the
fight of Good (represented by an Angel) against Evil (a group
of characters disguised as devils). Probably it comes from medieval
religious theatre. In 1846 we find the first text about a Ball
de Diables in l'Arboç: it tells us the Town Council had
bought new clothes for the devils, therefore we can think they
existed before. Continuity shows up in our Ball. It has taken
part in all feasts in l'Arboç, except during war periods.
Nowadays, it is one of the signs of popular culture that identifies
our town. Just like all devil dances in Catalunya, we loaf about
the streets during the feast: pyrotechnics are carried in a wood
charriot, and there is a burner who sets fire to the rockets -"carretilles"-
of the devils' fire-sticks -"maces". Each devil raises
his "maça" over his head, while he jumps, and
lets the "carretilla" burn until it explodes. Music
is made by four drummers who beat big leather and wood drums called
"tabals"; three of them are a hundred years old. Devils'
clothes are made of a coarse dress, with drawings by Eduard Vallès,
an artist of our town. Ball de Diables de l'Arboç is formed,
according to the historic pattern in Penedès, by a group
with a fixed number of members, and also many definite and established
characters: Llucifer (the leader of the devils), Diablessa (a
she-devil), some Borrons, the Angel,... All these characters take
part in the spoken dance - called "acte sacramental"
in L'Arboç- which represents that fight. At the end of
the dance, after the angel has won, all devils kneel down around
the Diablessa, who proclaims her power burning a "carretilla"
over the devils' backs; this moment of the play is called "Elsa".
Besides the spoken dance, devils recite satirical poems -called
"versots"- talking about people and current events in
our town. However, the topmost moment in the feast is the "carretillada".
After the performance, at night, it shows Hell. For nearly half
an hour, devils burn their "carretilles" jumping around
ceaselessly in the town square, while the big sceptre of Llucifer
and the pitchfork of the Diablessa are burning their fire-jets
and other pyrotechnics. Fire must not stop, not even decrease.
Every year, the "carretillada" is a bit different, because
we do not give up novelties that can make it more and more spectacular.
But we must not forget its attractiveness relies on devils' effort
to keep the fire level all along that time, while drums are beating.
Devils seem to be arising from Hell. Since 1981, our Ball has
had a children's group, which also takes part in the feast. The
first Catalunya devil's meeting also took place in l'Arboç
that year. Ball de Diables de l'Arboç has been a leader
trying out pyrotechnics, always keeping tradition. For example,
there is a "carretilla" called "carretilla arboç",
which in this moment is being used by devils' groups all along
Catalunya. DRAC BADALOT Our dragon was made by a popular bestiary
builder, Dolors Sans, in 1993. It is a majestic dragon inspired
by drawings from the devils' clothes and graffitti on the walls
of Sant Antoni's chapel in the town hospital. Its height (more
than three metres) mades it one of the most frightful and spectacular
dragons in our country. Its five heads transmit strength and fierceness
and together with ten tridents (founded on Llucifer's big sceptre
and Diablessa's pitchfork), they give more than thirty fire points.
The Dragon has its own four drums,(on the same way as devils dance).
Therefore when the Dragon acts alone, there can be eight drums
going with it. Nowadays, the dragons' group consists of twenty
devils: seven carrier pairs, four drummers, the burner and the
pyrotechnics manager. All of them belong to Ball de Diables de
l'Arboç, so their clothes are alike. Our dragon takes part
in the town feast, and it has also travelled to many Catalan
towns and also to other countries.