Since the success of TV shows, like “Come Dancing” and “Dancing Stars”, across the world no-one can deny ballroom dancing is hip!
Vienna, with its rich ball tradition, has got to be the best place for donning fine gowns and practicing or perfecting waltz, polka or rumba steps.
Where to dance
The majority of Vienna's 300 Balls, held all over town in stunning palaces, grand hotels, concert and opera halls, take place between mid-December and Shrove Tuesday. Some are very elegant affairs, others less formal - one such is the Bonbon Ball (www.bonbonball.at), held at the Vienna's Konzerthaus.
If you decide to join in the fun you'll notice how many young people attend. Learning to waltz is very much a part of growing up in Vienna and once the proficiency level has been reached, the teenie dream is to be chosen to open the famous Opera Ball, where international celebrities, Austria's high society and high ranking politicians share the ballroom floor for a night (www.wiener-staatsoper.at. Tickets from 230 euros).
The humungous Hofburg Palace is a great location for dancing the night away, and summer balls are becoming popular nowadays. The zaniest is the Aid's charity Life Ball (the 19th Life Ball takes place on May 21st 2011; www.lifeball.org ), and for the first time, in summer 2010, an Imperial Fete was held in the Spanish Riding School (www.fete-imperiale.at/en).
For a list of other Viennese balls see: www.ballkalender.info.
The dress code
Attending an elegant ball usually involves a certain dress code: for ladies long gowns and for men tuxedo with tails or uniform; only debutantes where white, by the way. Entry tickets cost between 30 and 300 euros. If you don't have the right dress for the occasion, then for around 130 euros appropriate attire can be hired, visit www.kleiderverleih.at.
Perfect the moves
And if you want to learn how to waltz or you feel the need to practice a few steps on the day, just head over to the centrally located Elmayer Dancing School. I used to think I had two left feet but, after just under one hour on the dance floor, I was whizzing round like a spinning top. A private lesson (50 minutes) costs 58 euros for couples (or individuals) and can be booked at short notice between 8am and 10pm providing they have space; visit www.elmayer.at/en.
Let the festivities begin
Every ball has an official opening ceremony, that usually lasts about an hour and where straight-backed young couples show their dancing skills, so only when you hear the words “alles waltzer” you'll know the ballroom floor is open for everyone.
Enjoy the night, "prost!" (the German word for "cheers").
Where to stay
For a full list of my recommendations on where to stay in Vienna, see Vienna Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Vienna.