Vienna is not only internationally renowned for its boys choir and classical music. The waltz is also one music and ballroom dance genre that is closely associated with this Austrian capital. In fact, most Viennese people follow a tradition of attending formal balls wherein they dance to the waltz.
Alles Walzer – Everybody Waltz! The Vienna Waltz is considered the national dance of Austria. It is a popular form of ballroom dance and music. Vienna’s version of the waltz is faster at 180 beats per minute compared to the English or slow waltz which is danced at 90 beats per minute. The modern version now features the international and American styles. It is also a major part of the International Standard of contemporary ballroom dance and is included in most competitions.
The oldest of the current ballroom dances, the Viennese Waltz started in the second part of the 18th century during the Romantic period in Vienna. It originated from the German dance and the Landler in Austria. Credited for this are the famous Austrian composers Josef Lanner and the father and son tandem of Johan Strauss I and II. Strauss is well known for his works such as the Blue Danube and Tales from the Vienna Woods which are often played at New Year’s balls around the city and broadcast around the country after midnight. The renowned Blue Danube is also a major part of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert during the New Year.
The Viennese waltz is normally instrumental and written for orchestras of different sizes. In the olden days, it was believed to be an indecent dance not allowed for young girls. Before the French Revolution began, it was meant only to be danced by married women.
Currently, the Vienna Waltz is one of the three most common types of waltz other than the French and English.
And where to practice the Waltz? There are balls for every taste and in Vienna, mainly during the season from January to March. At New Year’s Eve, the elegant Kaiserball (Imperial Ball) at the Hofburg attracts tourists and Viennese alike. Of course, the crowning glory of Vienna’s ball season has traditionally been the Vienna Opera Ball, held at Vienna’s venerable State Opera whose stage and auditorium are transformed into a giant dance floor. This is an event of such magnitude in Austria that it is broadcast live on television – and everybody participates, be it in dazzling ball gowns at the ball itself or watching it in the comfortable surroundings of one’s home.