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Every winter, Austria hosts hundreds of swish ball nights. Learn about the traditions of a typical evening at the ball.

Balls are usually opened by a Polonaise (a slow stately dance of Polish origin) and punctuated by speeches, a midnight Quadrille (a square dance performed by couples) and the crowning of the "belle of the ball".

The crème-de-la-crème of high society - along with a crowd of wannabes - dances and socialises the night away. There are sparkling balls held everywhere in Austria, with a quite impressive list of balls in Vienna.

Some of the most popular ones are held by professional groups, ranging from confectioners, hunters and pharmacists to coffee house owners and engineers. Officially, the ball season ends in February with an array of carnival balls. Only few events are held out of season, such as the Life Ball, a high profile HIV charity event that is undeniably the hippest of them all.

Austrian balls go on until the early hours, and had the Fairy Godmother been Austrian, she wouldn't have dreamed of ordering Cinderella to leave the ball as early as midnight!

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