Balls in Vienna: a brief history
In Vienna, over 400 balls are staged each winter, frequented by 300,000 dance-loving visitors from all around the world. A unique flair is invested in proceedings by the ceremonial program. The reason for the carnival-like addiction to balls amongst the Viennese can be found back in the 18th century, when the wearing of masks and costumes was reserved for the nobility, on private occasions. To compensate for this, Emperor Joseph II opened up the dances in the Redoute Rooms in the Hofburg palace to everyone. This allowed the Viennese to copy the courtly customs of these celebrations, something which they retain to this day: strict dress codes, an opening fanfare, the entrance of the debutants and debutantes and the call “Alles Walzer”, dance cards and changes of music, together with the ‘midnight interlude’, generally a quadrille, and the formal ending are all evidence of this. Another unique feature is the “Damenspende”, a selected gift for each lady as she enters the room.