The Viennese Ball
By Talia Rudahl
This was my eighth year attending the prestigious Viennese Ball hosted by the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. This is the second largest Viennese Ball outside of Vienna, so I have always thought of it as quite a large event, especially for the Midwest. I’m always surprised when people say they’ve never heard of it before.
The Ball has been described many ways, but my two favorites are “what prom should be” and “prom for adults.” The Viennese Ball is held the second or third weekend of April every year on both Friday and Saturday evenings. The event is the same both evenings, but because it is so popular, they offer two nights to choose from so they can accommodate everyone.
The night starts out with a live jazz quartet welcoming you as you enter the building. Ushers hold open doors for everyone, and all of your fellow ball attendees are dressed up in their finest eveningwear. As you start to explore the new student center that has been decorated to look like Vienna, you notice many different things. Live statues are scattered throughout the building, harps are playing, and there is a decadent dessert table filled with about twenty different kinds of cakes you just know you’ll have to try later on.
As you reach the top floor, you can hear singing. Two full choirs—the Women's Concert Chorale and the Singing Statesmen—provide entertainment before the dancing starts. After the choirs finish, you can choose between two ballroom performances to watch. One show is on the first floor, performed by the social ballroom club on campus, Two to Tango. The other is in the main ballroom, performed by Blugold Competitive Ballroom (of which yours truly is a member). After these wonderful performances, the orchestra starts. The live orchestra and jazz band provide music for the dancers, playing full one-hour sets and switching every hour on the half hour throughout the evening.
But the ball offers so much more than just great dancing music. A pianist plays songs upon request, a cappella groups sing, a small jazz band performs for a seated audience, and a polka band plays in another dance area downstairs. If you enjoy the arts at all, you will love this event. It has something for everyone.
I, personally, have always just loved the atmosphere. As I mentioned, it feels like what prom should have been like in high school. Everyone is dressed in their finest gowns and suits, there is live music to enjoy everywhere, and there are four full hours of dancing to partake in. For those of you who are looking for a new way to support the arts or a different type of night out on the town, I highly recommend attending this event in the future. You won't find anything else like it in the Midwest.