5. The Quadrille

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Vienna, Austria

This is what made Vienna unique. Vienna still has balls, like classical balls from fairy tales and cheap romantic novels. This picture was taken at the TU Students ball. It was in the Hofburg Palace. The dance everyone is doing is called the Quadrille. Basically its kind of like a victorian era cha-cha slide but with partners. 

Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote about the ball on my blog

“Walking up [to] the ball the Hofburg was lit up as bright as day. The Hofburg itself looks kind of like the wedding cake monument in Rome. If you haven’t see that imagine a half-circle of endless columns stretching about 150 yards with statues and relief decoration adoring the entire structure. We walked up to the Hofburg doors and entered into the Ball. At the entrance there was an all marble room and a random F1 race car…which was pretty neat. A red carpet led up some stairs to the main ball room and bar area. At the beginning of the ball the “debutants” (yes that is what they were actually called), led a procession and ceremonial dance to begin the ball. A live band and orchestra played them in. I unfortunately did not get to see most of the opening ceremony because it was so crowded.

The main ball room was truly a sight to behold. The ceilings were about 75 feet high and on the top was a massive painting of biblical figures circling in clouds. Epic chandeliers stretched down from the ceilings and all sorts of lights and colors covered the walls. The dance floor itself was slightly larger than a full sized basketball court. Along the sides were tables and places for people to watch the dancing. Outside of the main ball room were two side rooms intended for dancing. One side room was more dazzling then the main room. This room was almost entirely white with dozens of brilliantly lit chandeliers illuminating the room. Without the colors and decorative art the room was simple but also outrageously elegant. The other room was a more traditional Austria polka style room that I attempted to join but failed because I had no idea what was going on.

Walking through the various rooms of the Hofburg felt somewhat like walking through that scene from The Shining when the Overlook Hotel gets transported back into the 1920’s. People in brilliant dresses and tuxedos filled the rooms and created an outrageous atmosphere. Because it was the student ball most people were around my age. For about the first hour of the ball I was overwhelmed by the ornateness and grandiose scale of my surroundings.

After settling in and getting used to my surroundings I was able to go to the various rooms and try my hand at dancing. Waltzing is easier and harder than it looks in many ways. For those who have never Waltzed before essentially the “leader” (which in the traditional sense has been the man but it can be the woman if you so choose or another man or another woman etc) guides their partner through the dance floor. Basically the leader moves and spins with their partner and guides them through the other dancing partners who are also moving and spinning in time with the music. What this translates to for us uncoordinated folks is you try your best to not 1) crash into other dancing couples 2) not step on the feet of your partner 3) not lose your timing with the music and 4) move in the same direction as everyone else.

At first it wasn’t easy but I think I can safely say that thanks to some more talented partners and some practice I did not suck by the end of the evening. When the Waltzing was going well it was a really cool experience, something all people if able to should try to do at least once in their life. For a rare moment a massive group of people all came together to enjoy a night and dance together in an beautiful environment.”

Here’s what I wrote about the Quadrille

“There was two times in the night when all the dancing stopped and everyone participated in a traditional Austrian square dance. The first time it happened I watched the madness, the second time I participated. Imagine being in a giant ornate ballroom and having an Austrian woman shout instructions to you in german while everyone else around you does coordinated steps and you have no idea what is going on. Thats pretty much what it was like doing the square dance. It was so much fun! After the 8 rounds of the square dance the crowd cheered for the band to play it faster and you kept doing it until the band could not play any faster. After the square dance was done everyone grabbed a partner and basically galloped through the dance floor. Once you were tired of galloping you put your hands up in an arm bridge and then people started running under the arm bridge. I must have ran under the arm bridge for 5 minutes.”

Photo taken on: January 29th, 2016 12:07 AM

 

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