After Covid restrictions ruined Vienna’s glamorous winter ball season for two years in a row, Wahyuni, 50, couldn’t wait any longer to get dressed up and put on a dazzling flowery ball gown to waltz once again. away.
“We love coming here because the very nice decorations are made of real flowers and it’s very cute,” said Wahyuni along with her friend Deasy, who declined to give their full names because they both attended the legendary flower ball at Vienna’s neo-gothic town hall.
Delighted by the riot of colors, 46-year-old Deasy, originally from Indonesia, said she had been here a few years ago and “has to come back.”
Known as one of the most beautifully decorated winter balls out of some 450 held each season in the Austrian capital, the Flower Ball presents mesmerizing flower arrangements skillfully crafted from 100,000 flowers.
The four debutantes, wearing crisp white dresses and smart black evening suits, said they were “pretty nervous” about the opening of the prom.
“I think it’s decorated so beautifully and that makes me very happy,” said 18-year-old Eduard Wernisch.
The self-described “newbies” said they had been taking dance classes for a few hours a week since September to prepare.
The waltz rhythm can be tricky, and classmate Emma, 17, said she was especially afraid of dropping a bouquet of flowers.
“People come here hoping to experience spring,” as opposed to the grey, foggy winters so common in Vienna, Peter Hucik, Flower Ball’s art director, told AFP.
Even though tickets for the ball are not sold out, Hucik said he was happy that 2,400 guests attended the ball on Friday, starting the season as one of the first big balls in Vienna.
The Covid-related shutdown of Vienna’s famous ball season has caused the city to lose at least €152 million ($164 million) in revenue annually.
However, this season seemed on track to become one of the most successful in Vienna’s history.
“The season is back in style,” said Markus Griessler, head of the tourism and leisure department of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce.
Griessler said he expects City to earn “170 million” euros this season.
“One in three Viennese aged 15 and over plan to go to the ball this year,” compared to just one in four in 2019, he added, noting that “550,000 tickets sold” are within reach.
Every year, about one-tenth of prom lovers come mainly from abroad. On average, each football lover spends around €320 per ball.
There are “exciting parallels” between Vienna’s ball season and travel in general, Norbert Kettner, director of the city’s tourism office, told AFP when asked why balls remain a top priority.
“Apparently, people insist on traveling and dancing,” said Kettner, highlighting 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 were no longer reserved exclusively for the aristocracy.
The Viennese began to take over the court customs of organizing their own evenings, soon organizing balls dedicated to hunters, cafés and florists.
The Viennese took the opportunity to get close to the opposite sex, blame profusely, feast, spy and dance.
“The Viennese ball season and the waltz have always been a thorn in the Catholic Church’s eye,” said Kettner, because “the waltz was too close to comfort.”
Therefore, the famous ball season “loosely follows the Christian calendar and ends before Ash Wednesday,” he added.
Thousands will make a living in the booming sector, from hotels and restaurants to evening dress design and hairdressing.
All companies were as excited as the revelers to get ready and make this season a success.