Ball season is over, but the Fulbright Ball defied convention and took place last weekend. Jamesa—a fellow Fulbrighter, whom I met in Vienna for a ball—attended with me. That was nice, because I didn’t know anyone else there! We sat at a table with alumni including one who’d been a Fulbright student in 1970. (She joked that our table had both the oldest and the youngest Fulbrighters.) Our tickets included a delicious meal and a dessert buffet (though I only got one bowl of creme brulee and two bowls of mousse before they ran out). The dancing was less exciting—the DJ played an odd mix of ballroom and disco music. Even during the ballroom music, everyone stuck to the partners they came with. But Jamesa and I joined forces for a messy Munich Francaise at midnight! (I was confused, because I’d just gotten good at the Fledermaus quadrille, and now I needed to do different steps to all the same music!)
Carnival is over; Lent is here. Of course, I’m Jewish, so the only reason that matters to me is the fabulous end-of-Fasching parties. Lots of people opt for Cologne or Venice, but I returned to Vienna for the final weekend of ball season.
Friday was the Bonbonball (in the Konzerthaus), and it was about sugar. We were handed large bags as we entered, and we filled them with samples of all sort of Viennese cookies, chocolates, and candies. Schwedenbomben were available for eating all night. Balloons were dropped from the ballroom ceiling with coupons for more free sweets inside. The lottery prizes were giant truffles and boxes of boxes of Mozartkugeln.
There was also a beauty contest: the selection of Miss Bonbon 2015. I entered, but didn’t even make the finals. However, there ended up being some drama around the selection: the jury didn’t pick the audience favorite (presumably because she was a little older and heavier than the other candidates, with short, dyed hair and much more personality than your stereotypical beauty queen), and there was so much booing and rage that they finally gave her the same prizes as the official winner.
I danced a lot and met many young Viennese gentlemen, My dance partner for most of the evening turned out to be an amateur opera singer as well as a good dancer! I also made the fortuitous acquaintance of Stephan, who was going to be at the Monday night ball with a table for twelve and free sparkling wine coupons. Needless to say, I took his offer to join him at the table.
I’ve already been to Vienna twice (here, here) during the ball season / carnival / Fasching, and I’ll be back a third time before it’s over. But Munich has a ball season, too. Old newspaper articles indicate that it used to be a bigger deal, with hundreds of balls and a young “king and queen” who were expected to make an appearance at as many as nine events an evening. It’s smaller now, and many of the events take place in discos. But there are still a few old-style black-tie balls, so I decided to check them out.
First came the Ludwig Maximilian University Ball. It’s only in its second year, but it feels much older. The University’s gorgeous “large classroom” (famous for its history as the birthplace of German student resistance against the Nazis) had its seats removed and a dance floor installed for the occasion. Stately waltzes, a bar with reasonably priced drinks, and a delicious buffet made for a very fun night. The organizers cleverly recruited heavily at dance schools, so there were always couples on the floor. I managed to find a lead who had come alone, so I was set for the evening.
This ball also marked my intoduction to the Munich Francaise—a traditional contra dance done to (mostly) the same music as Vienna’s Fledermaus Quadrille, but with entirely different steps. We only did three of the five sets, but they were very well explained and demonstrated, so they worked brilliantly. There was even a bit where the ladies sat on the gentlemen’s hands and were lifted and twirled about in the air. It was great fun! Continue reading Munich Ballsaison
The Vienna social season began with the Silvesterball, and it’s now in full swing. (It will last until the end of carnival in mid-February.) I went back for my second visit this past weekend, attending three balls in three days!
It started with the Zuckerbäckerball—literally, the sugar bakers’ ball (promoted as the “sweetest ball of the season”)—on Thursday. I met up with two fellow Fulbrighters there. They had a nice table right on the dance floor in the main hall, so we partied in style.
As you might guess, this ball featured lots of cake. There were cake lottery tickets for sale (every ticket wins a cake, but the size and type is a surprise), sugar-sculpting demonstrations, and a cake-decorating competition. The entries for the competition were pretty impressive. A few of my favorites:
This makes two years in a row of spending New Year’s in Vienna! In 2013–14, I went because the New Year’s Eve ball at the Hofburg was the only part of social season that didn’t interfere with my class schedule. This year, I’ll be back to Vienna plenty more times during the season, but I decided to return for New Year’s as well. I partied with Lucas, whom I met at the same ball last year, and Megan and Jamesa, two fellow Fulbrighters in Germany.