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Everything and More – the Kaffeesiederball 2015 in Vienna’s Imperial Palace

Because life is too short to wait around for good times to happen. You have to make them happen. – KC

Recently I received a document from – I loathe to admit this – a fellow American — addressed to me in Vienna, Italy. I understand that Vienna begins with a “V” as does “Venice.” And both cities have six letter names containing an “i,” an “e,” and an “n.” But Vienna is not Venice and Venice is not Vienna UNLESS, you were one of 6000 guests at the Kaffeesiederball at the imperial palace this past Friday night.

The theme of this year’s ball was “A Night in Venice.” Vienna’s Kaffeesieder have mastered the art of making a guest feel like royalty and their 58th ball in the imperial palace was no exception. Footmen donning red coats and white satin vests with gold buttons and trimming flanked the sides of the marbled grand staircase. All ladies ascending the red carpet to the ballrooms above were welcomed with a small gift resting on a silver platter — a brightly colored Carnival mask.

Footmen at Kaffeesiederball

Footmen on the grand staircase offering arriving ladies Carnival masks

The cakes designed by each of the various coffeehouses and raffled to guests featured designs such as the Rialto Bridge and gondolas. Your raffle ticket didn’t land you a Sacher Torte? No worries. Mine didn’t either but I did manage to score two bottles of champagne, a six pack of beer and a gift certificate to a coffeehouse. After all, every ticket wins. Over 11 bands and orchestras played in 7 different dance and ballrooms – to every kind of music from waltz, to polka to traditional Austrian folk songs to ABBA. Waltzing couples followed in the footsteps of the 88 white-gowned debutantes who opened the ball with their white-gloved partners in the grand ballroom. The DJ playing at the bottom of the Ambassador staircase had a great mix of music to get even the most rhythm challenged attendees jamming. Guests who preferred to rock a bit of the night away 60’s style could do so with the Bad Powells on the top floor. ABBA not your thing? The stair climb or elevator ride is still worth the effort to just hang out at the sky bar and enjoy the panoramic view of the palace dome and Rathaus at night. Hungry? There’s oysters flown in from France on the top floor, Würstel at the passage near the Ambassador Staircase, Gulasch and so much more at the bars across from the grand ballroom, Viennese winery food and song tucked away in the bottom floor of the palace near the Josefplatz entrance and Apfelstrüdel in the room across from the coat check. Tired? Grab a quick espresso in the Meinl coffeehouse near the entrance.

Chandeliers in Ballroom

Chandeliers in Ballroom

Feeling dizzy from the hunger strike you embarked on two days ago to squeeze into your one-size too small gown or feeling a blister sprouting from your too expensive, too tight, too high, sparkly new heels? No worries, one of the balls two tuxedoed emergency doctors can rush to your side and save the day. Your partner not dance-happy? One of the 25 available “Taxidancers” hired by the coffeehouse owners is sure to keep your restless feet waltzing for a Strauss tune or two.

At the end of the evening, at 3:30 in the morning, we decided to call it a night. As we exited the palace, charming ladies in ball gowns placed a Damenspende – a bag filled with gift certificates, marmalade, tea, Campari soda, a porcelain coffee cup, Niemetz Schwedenbomben  and other goodies into each of our hands. As we waited in the queue for a taxi, a white stretch limousine pulled up next us, tempting us to accept Café Landtmann’s generous free ride to breakfast in Sigmund Freud’s most beloved coffeehouse. I eyed my friend who gave an indecisive pause both of us reluctant to let the night (morning) draw to an end. But a gust of biting wind, her jet lag and my lack of sleep argued that it would be better to put our aching feet to bed.

Paris Trip Giveaway

Paris Trip Giveaway

This year, a friend from NYC, Monique Patterson, who is an executive editor at St. Martin’s Press, flew into town for the weekend so she could come along. I had gushed about the ball at a conference we met at last year. I told her I didn’t understand why more people didn’t come to Vienna to attend the balls because they are so much fun. I mean, how often does one get to play Cinderella for a night and attend a ball at an imperial palace? She agreed and not even a half a year later, I was standing at Vienna airport early Friday morning, waiting for her red-eye flight to arrive.

Ballroom with Live Jazz music

Ballroom with live Jazz music

Sometime in the midst of the evening, after more than one random handsome tuxedoed man had stopped her to compliment her on her gorgeous gown, and a camera crew interviewed her about her experience, as we were sipping our champagne and watching a group of ball-goers dress up with French props to compete to win a free trip to Paris, I asked, “Was it everything you imagined it to be?” She answered, “Everything. And so much more.”

More images from the 2015 Kaffeesiederball from the Kaffeesiederball website.

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Missed Kaffeesieder? Try another one. Here’s the 2015 Ball Calendar.

More blog posts on Vienna balls:

Balls 101: http://www.kcblau.com/viennaballs/

Renting a Guy to Dance for the Night: http://www.kcblau.com/taxidancers/

Balls and Sex – Dr. Ruth meets Emily Post: http://www.kcblau.com/balls-and-sex/

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Taxitänzer (Taxi Dancer) – Rent a Man …to Dance

Wives are people who feel that they don’t dance enough. ~Groucho Marx

Part of the joy of dancing is conversation. Trouble is, some men can’t talk and dance at the same time. ~Ginger Rogers

Coat and Tails are just rigt for a ball at the Imperial Palace

Coat and Tails are just rigt for a ball at the Imperial Palace, here at the House of Gentlemen on Vienna’s Kohlmarkt in the 1st district

Cinderella is proof that finding the right man to take you to the ball can change your life. Or maybe just finding the right shoes.

But let’s face it, not even the finest shoes can outshine a couple on the dance floor who knows their moves. Or are having fun faking it.

Last year at Kaffeesiederball, I met – dare I admit — a fellow American who boasted about the amount of balls he had attended that season (note to fellow Americans – all Austrians are required by the State to master two skills in their lifetimes – skiing and waltzing). This American Ball King rattled off some impressive number that amounted to a ball every single weekend. I could hardly wait to see him twirl. An American guy who can waltz – finally!

Well…

Fortunately, what he lacked in talent, he definitely made up for in enthusiasm. His smile shone so brightly that he practically managed to blind all present to his two very left feet. (ever see the completely bizarre film, The World’s End? Kinda blinding like that).  Mark Twain once said, “Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody is watching.” This guy loved to dance like no one was hurting.

So even if you don’t know how to 1-2-3, 1-2-3 you can still have a great time with a partner with the right attitude. But let’s say you don’t have a partner or you really love to dance without getting stepped on the whole night.

Ball Attire for the guy

Ball attire for the man

Who you gonna call?

Taxitänzer!

Your own personal John Travolta, Patrick Swayze or Richard Gere on your fab five cell list. The kind of guys who want to spend their weekends dancing to forget about the reality of their everyday lives or their dead-end jobs. Or maybe the kind of guys who just like to dance. And actually know how.

Yep, money will buy you anything.

Even a man with good manners who loves to dance. And the bonus is that he won’t tell you that dress makes you look fat and definitely won’t complain about your mother or talk about his (unless, maybe you pay him to do so).

Garden Gnome from the other side of the fence

Met this rogue garden gnome at a ball but I don’t think he was for rent (but you never know!)

And how much will you have to dish out? Over an agency – about 40 – 50 € an hour plus drinks and if booking for a ball, the cost for the ball ticket. Keep in mind that a chunk of his hourly pay is going to the agency. Privately, people will charge about 15 – 20 € per hour.

True, this can add up. Tickets to the Kaffeesiederball cost 125 € a person. You arrive at the ball at 8 pm and leave at 5 am – that’s 9 hours. If you are dishing out 15 – 50 € per hour, your total by the end of the night will be somewhere between 135 –  450 €. For argument’s sake, let’s take the median and say 292 €. So to have a guy who can dance at you side for an entire evening at the Kaffeesiederball, you’re realistically looking at a bill of around 417 € plus drinks! (and maybe even a tip – I don’t know the tipping etiquette with Taxitänzer). At the current exchange rate of 1 € = US $1.37, that adds up to a whopping US $ 570. Just to have him along! We’re not even adding in your own expenses yet!

Wow!

Holy cha cha, Batman! Where’s the hope of a dancing girl now?!

White Dancing Gloves

White Dancing Gloves

I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish, I wish tonight.

I wish for a man who looks across the table, rises from his chair, bows, offers his hand and asks, “May I?” (Darf ich bitten?)

Guilt, Cinderella, can be alleviated by playing with the numbers – look at it as a once annual cost rather than a one night cost. So $ US 570 is really only US $47.50 a month, US $ 9.75/week or just a mere US $ 1.57/day (less than the price of that Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino you promised to give up at New Year’s and he’ll be helping you burn the calories in the process, not make them).

And these Dancing Darlings aren’t just rentable for balls – their available for all kinds of dancing functions. In fact, some of the agencies’ best customers are retirement home residents.

But hands off, Grandma! Hitting on taxi dancers is strictly VERBOTEN!

I do everything the man does, only backwards and in high heels! – Ginger Rogers

And about the shoes –truth is a perfect night of dancing requires the right man and the right shoes. So go in heels and slip a pair of flats in your bag. By midnight, after all the photos have been taken and the guys are removing their jackets, you can perform your own version of the old bait and switch. At 5 am when you’re still smiling and ready to fiaker on over to Café Landtmann for some breakfast and continued fun, your date –whether he’s on the clock or not — will be grateful to be spending time with a woman who knows how to look good without letting it get in her way of having a great time.

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Two Agencies in Vienna

Agency: “Original Taxi-Dancer”, (http://www.taxi-dancer.at/) founded in 1989.

Party Dancer: http://www.partydancer.at/tanzbegleitung.php

Read more here:

Article from the Austrian newspaper, die Presse, about Taxi Dancers: http://diepresse.com/home/panorama/oesterreich/483480/Taxitaenzer_Tanzpartner-fur-40-Euro

See my last two blog posts on Vienna and its Balls:

Vienna Ball Calendar 2014

Time to Have a Ball

What Every Girl Must Learn: Advice for Balls and Sex

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