Barceloneta beach was once again witness to a unique birth: the Ta-ka-ta. A sport that was invented in 1915 by a group of swimmers from the Club Natació Atlètic to keep fit in the winter months when the sea water and the swimming pool, at that time uncovered and of course not heated, were not inviting for training.
The game was played by simply sticking two rods in the sand joined by a rope as a net over which a rubber ball was passed. The Atlètic boys were soon joined by the Club Natació Barceloneta and the Club Natació Catalunya, founded in 1929 and 1930 respectively. In 1947, the first official championship was held between Atlètic and Barceloneta.
Ta-ka-ta evolved and the figure of the referee and the scorekeeper appeared, and the game was played with a net placed at a height of 1.60 m and the field was delimited with ribbons.
The pioneering clubs were followed by others such as the Club Natació Montjuic, which had a clubhouse on the Passeig Marítim, the Barceloneta Sports Centre and the Centre Gimnàstic Barceloneta.
Tournaments and exhibitions were held with a large number of spectators. The derbies between neighbouring clubs were legendary, as were the unforgettable 24 hours that brought together experienced players and less skilful amateurs in a sporting, family and festive day.
At the historic Club Natació Barcelona they also practised and still practise a somewhat peculiar ta-ka-ta with the highest net in which a move called machete is allowed (something like a tennis smash). This created quite a few conflicts when players from the CNB played against their neighbours from Atlètic or Barceloneta
What does it consist of?
Ta-ka-ta requires only a net, boundary tapes and a tennis ball. The beach and the players’ swimming trunks are assumed. Basically, the idea is to hit the ball with the hand, always from bottom to top, trying to place the ball so that the opponent cannot reach it. As in tennis.
The dimensions are approximately 6 m by 6 m per court with a neutral zone of 2 m at the foot of the net of 1.60 m in height.
The match is normally a 2 vs. 2, although there are 1 vs. 1 variants that require a smaller court size.
Matches last 40 or 50 points with a change of court in the middle, or 60 points with a change of court every 15 points.
Initially it was called “va a la mà”. A not very catchy name that was replaced by ta-ka-tá, imitating the noise made by the ball when it was hit with the hand.
CENTENARY, WITH DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN AND IN DANGER OF EXTINCTION
It is truly unique that the ta-ka-ta is, along with sailing, the only sporting activity that is indigenous to Barcelona, to Barceloneta.
This fact alone should be a reason for its cure and greater promotion. Today there are only a few fans who practice it in the aforementioned Club Natació Atlètic Barceloneta, Club Natació Barcelona and Centre d’Esports Barceloneta.
In these times in which we all fill our mouths with terms such as our own culture, proximity, uniqueness, traditions, support for our own, and so on and so forth…, we are slowly losing a sport that could not be more our own and traditional. Let us learn from territories such as the Basque Country, for example, which cares for and promotes sports and activities precisely in order to be its own and unique.
There is a lot of support and subsidies that are granted every year to foreign cultural organisations. This is not to be criticised, on the contrary. The unfortunate thing is that at the same time we forget something that is so much our own.
Lo ta-ka-ta could be an interesting proposal for the year-round use of the beaches for sporting activities. It also fulfils many requirements to become, for example, a healthy extracurricular activity in the open air, including ta-ka-ta as another activity in the camps organised by El Espacio de Mar. The clubs where it is practised could also offer ta-ka-ta classes to their members, as they do with other activities. Ideas and enthusiasm are there
Long life the ta-ka-tá!