After Covid restrictions wiped out Vienna’s glamorous Winter Ball season for two years in a row, Wahyuni, 50, couldn’t wait to get all dressed up and put on her dazzling floral-patterned ballgown to waltz the ball again. night a way.
“We love coming here because the really beautiful decorations are made of real flowers and it’s very beautiful,” Wahyuni said, alongside her friend Deasy, who declined to give their full names as both were attending the legendary Flower Ball in Vienna. neo-gothic town hall.
Admiring the riot of colour, Deasy, 46, from Indonesia, said she had been here a few years ago and “had to come back”.
Known for being one of the most beautifully decorated winter balls among the approximately 450 held in the Austrian capital each season, the Flower Ball features mesmerizing flower arrangements expertly crafted from 100,000 flowers.
Donning snow-white dresses and chic black evening suits, four debutantes said they were “pretty nervous” about getting the ball rolling.
“I think it’s so beautifully decorated, and that makes me super happy,” said 18-year-old Eduard Wernisch.
The self-proclaimed “rookies” said they had taken dance lessons for a few hours every week since September to prepare.
The rhythm of the waltz can be tricky and Emma, a 17-year-old classmate, said she was particularly afraid of dropping her bouquet of flowers.
“People come here hoping to experience spring,” as opposed to the gray, misty winters so prevalent in Vienna, Flower Ball artistic director Peter Hucik told AFP.
Although the ball is not sold out, Hucik said he was delighted that 2,400 visitors attended the ball on Friday, kicking off the season as one of Vienna’s first major balls.
The Covid-related shutdown of Vienna’s famous ballroom season had cost the city at least 152 million euros ($164 million) in revenue a year.
This season, however, seemed to be on course to become one of Vienna’s most successful ever.
“The season is making a strong comeback,” said Markus Griessler, president of the tourism and leisure division of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce.
Griessler said he expects City to raise “€170m” this season.
“One in three Viennese aged 15 and over plans to attend a ball this year,” compared to just one in four in 2019, he added, noting that “550,000 tickets sold” are within reach.
About a tenth of the spectators each year come mainly from abroad. On average, each prom goer spends around 320 euros per prom.
There are “exciting parallels” between the ball season in Vienna and travel in general, Norbert Kettner, director of the city’s tourist office, told AFP when asked why balls remain an absolute priority.
“Obviously people insist on traveling and dancing,” Kettner said while pointing to the city’s centuries-old tradition of hosting such events.
The tradition dates back to the 18th century, when the balls of the Habsburg royal court ceased to be reserved for the aristocracy alone.
The Viennese began to adopt court customs for their own soirees, soon throwing balls dedicated to hunters, cafetiers and florists.
The Viennese took the opportunity to approach the opposite sex, lavishly drink wine, dine, spy and dance.
“The Viennese ball season and the waltz have always been a thorn in the side of the Catholic Church,” Kettner said, because “the waltz was too close for comfort.”
Therefore, the famous ball season “loosely follows the Christian calendar and ends before Ash Wednesday,” he added.
Thousands of people will make a living in the thriving industry, from hospitality and catering to evening wear and hairdressing.
All companies were as excited as the partygoers to gear up and make this season a success.