Monday, February 8, 2010

Vienna's Ball Season

It’s Ball Season in Vienna. Not football or basketball or baseball or any other kind of round ball. It’s the Cinderella kind of Ball Season and there are hundreds of balls to attend. Dance schools are packed with students taking crash-courses to learn or brush up on the Viennese Waltz (of course!) as well as scores of other dances. Most of the balls are affiliated with a trade or organization and many raise money for charity. These galas include the Flower Ball, the Opera Ball, the Imperial Ball, the Vienna Philharmonic Ball, the Viennese Coffee House Ball, and the Bon-Bon Ball. In the Spring the anti-ball, the Life Ball, which supports AIDS-related research and charities, attracts much attention for outlandish and theatrical costumes.

Ball gowns and dancing shoes line shop windows.

Balls are generally held in various palaces around town such as the Hofburg Palace and the Rathaus. The one we attended was in the imperial palace of the Hapsburgs monarchy, the Hofburg. This is the front:

And the back, the "New" section of the palace:

We arrived early so I could take some photos without crowds. Inside, this is my favorite room, the Ceremonial Hall. It is here that I have to pinch myself. I feel transformed into Martharella...only there are no worries about midnight. What an elegant room!

There were scores of halls in which you could reserve a table, most with bands playing different kinds of music, from salsa to classical, to rock and swing, to celtic. This is one of the quieter but still gorgeous salons:

These old heaters were supposed to be quite efficient. They burned small amounts of fuel (fed by servants from a hallway behind the wall) but the ceramic held the heat for a long time and kept the room comfortable. They are also quite a focal point!

One of the back staircases:

One of the inlaid wooden floors:

Fancy sconces and chandeliers were everywhere:

The ball typically starts with entertainment followed by debutante dancers (who show us how the waltz is properly done). The whirl of black and white is such a beautiful way to start the ball.

Then the announcer invites everyone to dance...the floor gets very cozy very quickly.

What a great night for people-watching. I was drawn to the scene of a man in a Scottish kilt waltzing with a woman in a Japanese kimono. We also noticed people in traditional African, Polish, Korean, Indian, Chinese and Austrian dress along with expected Western tuxedos and ball gowns.

Around 2:00 it starts to clear enough to really get Fred and Ginger-ish....get a nap in the afternoon so you can stay through the wee hours of the morning.

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