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 Fête Impériale in the Spanish Horse Riding School, the proceeds of which go towards the protection and breeding of the oldest cultural horse breed, the Lipizzaners.
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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