Do you enjoy dancing on your boomer travels? Alan and I love getting all spiffed up for formal night on a luxury cruise to dance the night away. But cruises aren’t the only venues where we can practice our dancing skills. November 11, 2012, kicks off the Vienna Ball season. Native Viennese Barbara Grüll-Cação has the inside scoop on the best Vienna balls, getting tickets, dance lessons, evening dress shops in Vienna, and do’s and don’ts.
As a native Viennese, I love Vienna balls but am amazed that the best of them are little known to travelers. (Most ball information is in German only, after all.) They are the most glamorous and sophisticated events in town!
Best Vienna Balls
There are more than 300 balls in Vienna every season. The best balls are not advertised, take place at lavish ballrooms and are run by traditional professional groups or guilds. My top favorites are the Ball of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Ball of the Vienna Coffeehouse Owners, the Bonbon Ball, the Confectioners’ Ball, the Lawyers’ Ball and the Fête Impériale. However, many local and international socialites love our figurehead ball—the Vienna Opera Ball.
A wild exception to these traditional dance events is the Life Ball, Europe’s most extravagant and crazy ball which equally attracts dozens of international celebrities every year.
How To Get Tickets
Tickets for the most popular balls sell out fast. October/November is the best time to purchase tickets for those balls taking place between December and February. You can usually choose between flaneur tickets and tickets with table reservations. The latter option is great if you attend with a group of friends.
Boomer travel tip: Buy Directly from the ball organizers — online or over the phone. However, dealing with some ball bureaus from abroad is not easy for a non-local. Some balls require purchasers of flaneur tickets to buy them on-site at their bureau in advance.
Boomer travel tip: Consult your hotel. There are a few hotels in Vienna, especially luxury hotels, that help you arrange ball tickets
Dance Lessons for Vienna Ball Season
There are a few dancing schools in Vienna that offer individual waltz dance lessons for couples, including in English. Use them as a refresher or to learn those basic steps. And don’t worry about elaborate steps as very popular balls hardly allow room for advanced dancing techniques.
Evening Dress Shops In Vienna
Not surprisingly, Vienna has a few lovely evening dress shops for ball gowns, tuxedos, tail coats and accessories. Evening dress designer Anelia Peschev is the favorite choice of Vienna’s elite, but there are also well stocked department stores that offer cheaper from-the-shelf evening wear. Alternatively you can rent evening wear at specialized rental dress shops.
Protocol for Vienna Balls
- Respect the particular dress code for each ball.
- Arrive in time to see the opening ceremony of young local debutants.
- Join in at the midnight quadrille dance, even though you have never practiced it. Most people aren’t experts, which increases the fun.
- Arrive in a horse carriage at the ball if you don’t want to be labeled as a tourist.
- Try to practice your most elaborate dance steps on a crowded dance floor.
- Fall into bed right after the show. Many Viennese have a traditional Vienna sausage at a local sausage stand—that’s part of the game.
Barbara Grüll-Cação runs Vienna Austria travel site Vienna Unwrapped. She has lived in and around Vienna for 30 years and regularly visits her home town from London, where she lives with her husband and two kids. On Vienna Unwrapped, Barbara shares her passion and knowledge as a native, a former local and a frequent Vienna traveller with you.