Prom/ball season in Austria is big. It extends from November to February and on any given weekend could include a number of events in or around the surrounding towns. I feel as if I should explain a little bit here, because a prom or ball in Austria is not like one in Australia.
In Australia a prom could be a deb-ball, or it could simply be a formal celebration for the final year students finishing high school. A ball, on the other hand, is generally a charity event, where you pay a couple of hundred bucks to eat a fancy meal and rub backs with the rich and famous, all the while making damn sure that you drink your monies-worth of free booze.
A ball in Austria might not be as classy, however there are different types depending on who’s organising. Many balls are Matura-balls – that is, the final year students’ celebration. For some of these you can pre-book a table, but your ticket will only be from 5-20 euros. You can then choose to purchase food and drink as you like and there’s no fancy gourmet here… it’s schnitzel all the way… thank goodness!
Most include a presentation – that is when the couples come out on stage and do a few proper dances (much like a deb ball) – however this is done early in the night and it doesn’t last long. Read: it’s pretty much only for family and friends and everyone else shows up afterwards.
But after that it’s pretty much all the same. People dress up to the nines and dance the night away. Personally, I like it – all the glitz and glamour of dressing up, without having to behave yourself!
I embarked on my first ball (this was the local Police Ball – which in part raises funds for the local team – in true 16-year-old style. We made the stupid mistake of spending the afternoon drinking red wine and enjoying a tasty but fantastically spicy Indian curry. On arrival, Thomas, having grown up in the town, knew every second person – and each spoke to him in very fast German. I laughed in some of the right places but mostly just stood around awkwardly, and inevitably… kept tipping the contents of my glass down my throat.
After my initial prosecco, I switched of course to white wine, then I found a fantastic drink called ‘Apple Strudel’, which was vodka based, and finally I found someone I vaguely knew… and in my excitement, decided to have not one, but two Jägermeister’s.
Thomas was up for dancing at this point, but unfortunately I was just too dizzy. I went and sat in the toilets for some time… and finally we decided to leave… very early… and Thomas was still pretty much sober.
At my second ball I behaved much better, so ashamed was I of my first performance. In fact, I think I was a little boring. This one was a Matura-ball and I did manage to win myself a bottle of sickly green Midori. I think that was appropriate.
But next season I’ll be ready, new dress and all, and I plan to try for some kind of middle-ground. Maybe I will even know some people next year!