Tag Archives: waltz

Alles Walzer!

8 Feb

Colin Cam

It’s been two days and I’m still recovering from the ball this weekend. It was fantastic, but if I had a do-over, I would have tried to find some other way of arriving in Vienna. The overnight bus that we took with most of Colin’s classmates wasn’t so great for resting up before the big night—who would have suspected that?

Miraculously, the hotel let us check in at 8 a.m., three hours before we were scheduled to arrive and five hours before normal check-in time. Almost everyone headed off to their rooms to nap, but a few brave souls headed out into the map-stealing blustery day to do some sight-seeing. We napped.

At lunch time the Austrians led us to a brewery, and before long, the smell of deep-fried schnitzel was thick in the air. I probably could have snagged another hour of sleep after lunch like Colin did, but I (for once!) opted to give myself plenty of time to avoid any last-minute rushing around.

Rathaus, Vienna's town hall building, where the reception was held. Colin Cam

Finally, at 5:15, the masses gathered in the hotel lobby, dressed to the nines and bunching for photos. We went first to Vienna’s town hall, and in the basement were treated to a lovely reception by Vienna’s minister of cultural affairs, a SAIS alumnus.

The opening ceremony.

Some hours later we crossed a large park and entered the Hofburg Palace, where the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency Ball was being held. Besides the main room where the waltzing was to be done, there was a Latin music room, a disco room, a regae room, a swing dance room, and a Celtic folk room, all with live bands. SAIS had two apartments with tables and a small bar all to ourselves, which turned out to be a lovely place to retreat to and put up the feet without worrying.

The debutantes and their dates.

At midnight I pulled Colin to the main dance floor for the quadrille, which, because we’d only learned one part of six, was sort of a disaster but a whole lot of fun. The people around us didn’t know it either, so we tried to follow the dance-trained debutantes who had opened the ball. Apparently we were caught on the closed-circuit camera for a second and they noticed in the SAIS room. I’d say it was one of the highlights of the night.

Lined up for the quadrille. Colin Cam

By about 3:30 the main floor was relatively clear, and with about fifteen other SAISers we got our waltz on. Every step came with stabbing pain in my feet, but we stayed until 4:30 when a single violinist played a sad sort of melody to signal everyone to go home.

Watching the main dance floor from the orchestra steps. Colin Cam

I managed to do an hour and a half of sight-seeing the next day in between breakfast and before piling back onto the bus, so I really don’t have much to say about Vienna. One of the Austrians last night said he’s thinking of organizing another (ball-less) trip, so I might need to jump on that opportunity.

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Fledermaus

24 Jan

You know how in old period movies set in the 18th century there’s usually a ball scene that has at least one big number with all of the dancers in rows and doing set moves? Well, I figured that if that ever really happened, it was something that had long ago drifted out of fashion and never would have guessed that it was something that still happens today.

I would have been wrong. It will happen at the Austrian ball, and our Austrians have dutifully prepared us for it. At the stroke of midnight at our ball, any number of SAISers may be participating in the Fledermaus quadrille.

How ridiculously exciting is that? We started learning it of Friday and, I have to say, we looked pretty good. More practice is needed, certainly, and we’ll need to learn more than the first minute, which is all we know now, but I’M SO PUMPED!

SoCal girl forever

20 Jan

It snowed again today! Only for a couple hours and none of it stuck, but they were definitely snowflakes landing on my eyelashes when I walked back from the library with Ludo. What a day to have a broken umbrella. And to have forgotten my camera!

It’s been about a month since the last snow, but the weather we’ve had in the interim has been so much worse! Dark, cold, misty gray days that hover just above freezing. Honestly though I feel bad complaining when my baby brother has to walk through six inches of “slush” and my recently transplanted-from-SoCal-to-Montana pal is in -4 degrees F. Yikes! I still cannot comprehend what that must be like.

I hear this weekend will bring more snow, so some hot chocolate and movie nights will be in order. Waltz lesson, part two, is tomorrow!

1-2-3, 1-2-3

17 Jan

Stacked desk chairs lined the walls of the auditorium to clear enough space for the hundred or so students who’d shown up to learn the waltz last night. With the girls against one wall and the boys against the other, a few of the Austrian students stood in the middle and demonstrated.

We started as simply as you can, with the basic step of the simple waltz, but within half an hour we were in pairs and learning the under-arm turn. By the end of the hour, they’d demonstrated the spinning Viennese waltz, but people were struggling a bit with that.

I was partnered with an Austrian guy for one of the numbers and, when I asked, he said he’d been doing the waltz since he was a young child; going to a ball is something they would do pretty much every year. I wonder if that is perhaps a treat limited to wealthier or more influential Austrians.

Colin and I were rusty, but had an easier time than most with the Viennese having learned the steps before in a ballroom dance class at Santa Barbara. We’ve got a wonderfully long hallway that we can practice in whenever Colin needs a study break, so hopefully we’ll be more polished in time for the ball.

Unrelated, here’s my evening sky tonight: