Agnes Bartolomé Garrich, 32, has made popular culture her modus vivendi. This resident of Ciutat Vella is crowded with the traditional acts of La Mercè, which begins this Friday, September 23, with the proclamation by Carla Simón, the award-winning director of Alcarràs. She’ll carry a “twice as big” backpack to change into between acts, run to get to everyone and go to the public in her off hours to take photos. The obligations of the Barcelona festival prevent her from attending the concert of La Oreja de Van Gogh, one of her favorite groups. But she assures that she loves the stress of traditions and that she considers herself “privileged”. Question: How many events do you participate in this Mercè? female dragon). On Saturday at l’Anada a l’ofici and the festive entourage of La Mercè with the Cavallets Cotoners. In the afternoon, at the parade of La Mercè with the ‘Gegants’ and at night at the dragons and fire beasts parade with the Arpella of the Gòtic quarter (figure in the form of a sea eagle). On Sunday I will make public and take photos for work. And at night I will participate in the ‘correfoc’ of the Gothic quarter. Q: When did your relationship with popular groups begin? A: I started in the Esbart Català de Dansaires when I was four years old. I attended parties with my parents who were linked to Esbart. I participate with them in the Cavallets Cotoners -horses that represent the fight between Turks and Christians-, ‘bastoners’ and in the dance group. Then, when I was 14, I wore the first giant, the Perot lo Lladre, but I didn’t participate again until the day I turned 18, when I signed up for the Associació de Festes de la Plaça Nova. I wanted to take giants but my father wouldn’t let me so I had to wait until I was of legal age. Q: Why didn’t he let you? A: Giants are heavy and I was afraid for my back. Also, I was afraid that I would stop dancing at the Esbart, which is an institution in my house because my parents met there. A: No. Here we continue. We rehearse every Tuesday and Friday. A: How’s your back? Q: Will you also go out at night? A: I used to do it 10 years ago, but at Mercè concerts you spend more time looking for friends than enjoying the concert. We are so tired that if we get together for dinner, we can stay up until 3 in the morning chatting but being from 8 in the morning to 12 at night with ‘espardenyes’ takes its toll. I prefer to live the party from the tradition.Q: Is there someone you like? Ear for another day. Q: Does your sister also participate in so many acts? A: Yes, it is what we have experienced at home. The normal thing for me is to get up on a Saturday to go to a game of ‘bastoners’ or ‘gegants’, like other friends were going to play basketball. In fact, when I meet someone I introduce myself as a ‘giant’, ‘diable’ and dancer in ‘Esbart’ and that is what I like and it takes up a lot of my time. Q: How many hours a week do you put into it? A: I work 7.5 hours a day on this, then I attend meetings and rehearsals on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I am the cultural manager of the Casa dels Entremesos. I studied sociocultural animation, the degree in communication of cultural industries and a master’s degree in cultural management. I wanted to dedicate myself to this and I am privileged because I love my job. The only thing is that I spend many hours in the Casa dels Entremesos because the meetings are also held here. Q: Don’t you need a break from time to time? A: Yes, because both at home and with friends, popular culture always ends up coming out. I combine it with another hobby, running. That’s how I disengage. In my environment, everyone has their job and their hobby starts at 7 in the evening, but I start at 9 in the morning. Q: Will you take a vacation when the Mercè is over? A: The truth is that I will need them but Next weekend we have activities. I’ll take a week in November and I’m sure I won’t want to know anything about culture. Q: You’ve also become a leader in these groups. A: Until last year I was a member of the Diables del Gòtic group and now I’m a member of the party association, people ask me after the president. Personally, it hasn’t cost me to get here because of my character, I’m very bossy. At the age of 18 I began to be a diable and at 19 I was the head of a colla. This character has also led me to sometimes not be taken seriously. Q: Will you instill this love for popular culture in your children? A: If I have them, yes I will. The world of associationism teaches us to coexist with people of different ages, from 3 to 70 years old, from the left and right, from Real Madrid and Barça. Social and cultural learning is very rich. I go to meetings to see my friends and share a bag of chips. Q: How has the Mercè of the pandemic been? A: In Barcelona we were quite lucky because hardly any events were cancelled. Although it was disgusting because of the limitations, that’s better than not doing street parades. We danced on a stage in front of a seated audience wearing a mask, we didn’t see their faces or their reactions. Q: Is there a desire to party without restrictions? A: A lot. We have gone to the parties in Sitges, Vilanova and Vilafranca and we have seen many people. We want a lot of people to come here. We know that the weather will not be on our side but we are all very much looking forward to the Toc d’Inici and for the doors of the Virreina to close so that the main festival can begin.