Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bälle, Bälle, and more Bälle

Behold the Liechtenstein Palace! Former home of the royal family if Liechtenstein, which has since been transformed into a private museum holding much of the family's art and retaining much of their grandeur. And also home to a rather unsuccessful ball.

That doesn't bother me so much. I have to admit I am not much of a dancer and have recently just been trying to make the most of my time in Vienna and balls seemed to be a big part of that. Still, I do find the question of what makes a ball unsuccessful interesting.

Here it certainly was not the location. The palace is quite opulent, and while not the grandest in Vienna, it is all the more manageable for its size (wow, that sentence was almost snobby enough for the NY times film reviews). Anywho, the building was very nice though again difference between American and European thinking are interesting. We don't have so much old stuff so we tend to treasure it and play up its relative oldness. Europeans have loads of old stuff ('where the history comes from' as Eddie Izzard would say) and seem to get bored with it and feel the need to inject modernity. Example:
Beautiful statues, pillars, and a neon green bar. I am not such a fan though I do have a theory that Europeans see lots of old things and feel an over powering need to plop down a piece of ugly modern architecture or sign of the current century (read: neon green bar) to remind themselves that thing shave changed at least a little bit since their great grandparents were running about. I, however, feel the need to gather old things together to pretend I am living in the Europe of my great grandparents. But I digress.

This particular ball had been organized for the first time. As such there weren't so many people there (something the organizers knew and also a reason why there were free tickets available for people like me) and just a general lack of energy. The orchestra was small and seemed to break a lot compared to the bigger balls in Vienna and people didn't really seem to be dancing. So in many ways the ball never really got going.

The weirdest part though was the Slovenian dance troop at midnight. At balls you tend to look forward to midnight because that is usually when the quadrille gets going. For the quadrille people get into two lines facing each other and then are quickly given garbled instructions of how to dance. No one knows exactly what they are supposed to do and it is a lot of fun. So around midnight instead of the quadrille we had the Slovenian dance troupe (the quadrille did fortunately come later).
I don't have any really good pictures, but they were all dressed as if they came straight out of Cabaret and they danced liked it too. In their various 'dances' the woman then seemed to be competing to see who could flash their bright red panties the most. I think they were all winning. The group just sort of clashed dissonantly with the renaissance vibe of the palace and the cultured aspirations of the ball. Again it didn't bother me as such, I just wished I had been in the room when they decided "for our ball we want the most beautiful palace we can find and then the sluttiest folk-polka group we can find!" Had I been in the room, I don't think I would have spoken up.

And now an artsy picture of a chair I accidentally took:

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