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Time to Have a Ball – Vienna, World Capital of Balls – Ball 101

Meeting up with a friend at Kaffeesiederball in the Vienna Imperial Palace

We can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind, because your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance, Well they’re no friends of mine.
– Men at Work, You Can Dance If You Want to

No matter what you like – boogie, techno, brass bands, coffee, flowers, real estate, Mozart, whips, chains and leather – there is a ball for you.

Remember prom? You in a floor-length gown, him in a tux at the Marriott “Grand Ball Room” with its patterned carpets and stackable chairs. The room made to look upscale by helium-filled metallic balloons and some pink carnations. A DJ played music upon request over a sound system meant for a room 10 times the size. During the slow dances you resembled a weeble wobble zombie who won’t fall down and during the not-so-slow dances part of a larger group of teens experiencing some kind of body-contorting seizure. Ahh the good old days. The prom.

A Vienna Ball is nothing like your prom. Nothing. Except maybe the gown and the tux. But beyond that, nothing at all.

No, a Vienna Ball is a thousand times better and should definitely be one your bucket list and I am going to help you with some little Ball 101.

Background
The Vienna ball season takes place during the carnival and is usually launched New Year’s Eve with the Imperial Ball http://www.legrandbal.at/ at the Imperial Palace.  Over 400 balls take place in the city during this time with over 300,000 guests. Balls are sponsored by occupational groups, trade unions, universities, interest groups — if you’ve got an interest, Vienna’s got the ball. And ball wear can vary from traditional gowns and tuxes to Austrian Dirndl dresses and Lederhosen to funky new wave what-would-you-call-what-is-covering-your-essentials. In the 1800s, Emperor Josef II began hosting dance events in the Redouten Halls of the Grand Imperial Palace. On a Carnival Monday on March 3, 1783, Mozart performed Masquerade in the Vienna Redouten Hall. On April 27, 1854, Johann Strauss directed the grand Court Ball in the Redouten Halls to celebrate Emperor Franz Josef’s wedding with the Bavarian Princess Elisabeth (Empress“Sissy”).

Me and my friend at the Lifeball 2014

Me and my crazy Philly buddy at the Lifeball 2014

BALL 101 — QUICK FACTS TO HELP YOU OUT

Not Having a Man is No Excuse
Don’t have a man? Get one here: Taxi Dancer – Rent a Man … to Dance – Check out my post entitled Taxitänzer (Taxi Dancer) – Rent a Man…To Dance.

What to Wear
Don’t wait for the fairy godmother to show up and wave her magic wand. You need to go in style and this Ball Guide should help with the basics> Vienna Unwrapped’s List of Evening Dress Shops in Vienna

Hallway at Kaffeesiederball during Midnight Show

Hallway at Kaffeesiederball during Midnight Show

The Ball Opening
The honored guests parade into the ballroom and are seated. Next come the debutants who are dressed in long white gowns, long white gloves and crowns. They are accompanied by their “cavaliers” who are handsome young men also wearing white gloves and coat and tails. As they enter the ball room, typically Fächer-Polonaise from Carl Michael Ziehrer plays. Here is the Vienna Business Ball Opening from 2012

How do you know it’s time for everyone to dance?
After the debutantes and their partners do their little numbers, the master of ceremony declares the infamous words, “Alles Walzer” (Everything Waltzes) and all the guests flood out onto the dance floor and dance.

You can dance if you want to, but if you can’t, don’t let that stop you.
Just because you have two left feet, doesn’t mean you wouldn’t enjoy attending a ball in Vienna. In 2010, a survey conducted by the Vienna Economic Chamber asked ball guests why they liked to attend the Vienna balls. Dancing didn’t make the top three reasons. Instead, they said they liked to go because they wanted to:

Kaffeesiederball Vienna Imperial Palace

Kaffeesiederball Vienna Imperial Palace

1)      spend a nice evening with their partners
2)      enjoy the flair
3)      meet up with friends

At midnight, don’t run home unless you’re Cinderella
Midnight at the Ball is usually what they call the “Mitternachtseinlage” which is a break in the normal ball event for a special performance in the main ball room by featured guests and should be a surprise treat for the guests.

Ladies always get to take home a gift (and I don’t mean the dance partner)
Damenspende: a gift for each of the ladies as she enters the ball (or goes home)

The Invitation
How do you ask the lady to dance? “Darf ich bitten?” And if you are at a table with a group of people you know, be sure to ask every lady to dance by the end of the evening if you want your manners to keep stride with your tuxedo appearance.

Who knew?
Gentlemen who wear a coat and tails are not supposed to wear a wrist watch (tsk! tsk!) but rather a pocket watch on a gold chain.  As if anyone nowadays is wearing a watch anyway. Maybe you can get a pocket watch app and be trendy or a gold chain for your I-Phone.

Raffle Goodies at Kaffeesiederball

Raffle Goodies at Kaffeesiederball

Raffle Tickets / Tombola
Raffle tickets are usually sold at balls and sell out quickly so if you see a long line forming that isn’t for the restrooms, elbow your way in and buy some tickets. At many of the balls, every ticket will win you something or another.

How do you know it’s time to go home?
The Viennese have a subtle way to indicate it’s been fun but now it’s time to hit the road– the song that means “scram go home now” is “Brüderlein fein” from Ferdinand Raimund (1826) and is typically the very last song of the ball. I am adding it here so you recognize it and don’t embarrass yourself by requesting an encore once it’s played — “Brüderlein fein” with Hans Moser and Renate Holm.

What every Girl Must Learn
Check out my post on what balls and sex have in common with some advice from Dr. Ruth and Emily Post: What every Girl Must Learn: Advice for Balls and Sex.

Print This Post
Little brother so fine, little brother so fine
don’t be upset with me
little brother so fine, little brother so fine,
don’t be upset with me
even when the sun is still shining so beautifully
she has to go down sometime.
Little brother so fine, little brother so fine,
don’t have to be sad
Brüderlein fein, Brüderlein fein,
Mußt mir ja nicht böse sein;
Brüderlein fein, Brüderlein fein,
Mußt nicht böse sein.
Scheint die Sonne noch so schön,
Einmal muß sie untergehn.
Brüderlein fein, Brüderlein fein,
Mußt nicht traurig sein.

For a comprehensive list of the 2014 Balls in Vienna so you can plan which ones you should be attending, see my next post: 2014 Vienna Ball Calendar. Print This Post

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