Viennese Ball Season

Audrey Steiner
March 24, 2019

Not football season. Not baseball season. Ball season—as in the fancy, princess-ly dancing event that you read about in fairy tales.

Balls are popular in Vienna, and they are as glamorous you can imagine. That being said, the glamorousness does not make the occasion feel too prim and proper to have fun. Fun is the whole point of a ball—there’s a reason why the expression “having a ball” means to have a great time! Most IES Abroad Vienna students take advantage of the opportunity to attend at least one ball. Even if you don’t think a glitzy dance is your scene (I was one of those people), I recommend you try one anyway. Vienna balls are a cultural tradition that you can't experience anywhere else.

And now, a quick guide to attending a Viennese ball:

Step one: Obtain a ticket!

There are many balls to choose from, especially during ball season, which runs from November through March. A few examples are the Technical University Ball, the Johann Strauss Ball, and the Masked Ball. Ticket prices can surpass 300 euros in the case of the famous Opera Ball, but you should be able to find balls with tickets under 100 euros each. This semester, IES Abroad students paid only 35 euros for tickets to the TU Ball in the beautiful Hofburg Palace.

Step two: Clothing!

Viennese balls enforce a strict dress code—you must wear either a formal, floor-length gown or a black tuxedo. Be careful! My roommate got denied entry for having too high of a leg slit in her otherwise conservative dress. So follow the dress code!

Luckily, many prom outfits meet the dress code, so if you still have what you wore to prom, bring it with you to Vienna. Otherwise, you will have to find something here. You can find nice gowns for under 200 euros at a store near the IES Abroad Center called Peek and Cloppenburg. If that sounds a bit steep for your budget, you have some other options, such as rental (this also applies to tuxedos) or one of Vienna’s secondhand stores (they usually have interesting options within the 20-70 euro range). IES Abroad also has a few ball gowns you can grab at the beginning of the semester for free, but the selection is very limited in style and size, so don’t count on this option. Also, if your outfit doesn’t have pockets, don’t forget to buy (or bring) a small clutch with a shoulder strap so you can keep your phone and money on you while you are dancing!

Step three: Day-of!

Gather in a friend’s apartment, adorn yourselves in your fancy ball clothes, and eat a good meal (this is important because the food at the ball is way overpriced). Turn heads while taking the public transportation in your formal attire (actually, you might not turn many heads since balls are so normal here), or just take an Uber. If you head out to the ball early, you might catch the debutantes dancing at the opening ceremony!

Step four: Enjoy your night at the ball!

If you made it in time to see the opening ceremony, watch that to put yourself in a dancy mood. Otherwise, explore the different rooms. There will be a classic ballroom where people dance the Viennese waltz, and there might also be a Foxtrot room, a swing room, or a jazz room. At the TU Ball, there was a silent disco room, which was popular with the IES Abroad students. Once you pick a room, try to dance! Even if you don't know the steps, trying to figure them out and tripping over your own two feet can be a lot of fun. At midnight and at 2 a.m., try dancing (or watching) the Quadrille in the main ballroom. This dance involves long lines of couples and lots of place-switching. For me, it adds to the whole "I'm a princess!" feeling. If you can, take a Quadrille lesson before your first ball so you're not completely lost!

Whether you find yourself dancing or hanging back and socializing, enjoy your night of fancy royalness! You can stay until 5 a.m. if you'd like. You may want to leave a little earlier though, especially if you went to a weeknight ball…you'll probably have class the next day!

Step five: Recover.

Go back home. Sleep. You need the sleep to consolidate all the happy memories ;)

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Audrey Steiner

<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:.4pt; margin-right:19.8pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.5pt"><span style="line-height:103%">My name is Audrey. I am a junior at the University of Notre Dame (Here is where ND fans shout, "GO IRISH!") where I am double-majoring in music and visual communication design. With my busy schedule, I often "forget" to do my laundry, organize my chaotic desk, and close out of the 30+ Chrome tabs I have open at once. When I am not practicing piano or doing homework, I enjoy reading, writing, learning languages, spending time outdoors, and FaceTiming my cat, Bramble.</span></p>

2019 Spring
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