Genevieve PM Roy
Elegant Debutantes and their EscortsIntroduction of the elegant debutantes and their escorts.
A Regal night of Cinderella Magic and Enchantment
For many, a ball is the epitome of the most glitzy and glamorous of evenings with just the right mix of tradition and Cinderella magic. Although the art of social dance is a tradition forgotten by many in our day and age, the flame for glamour and romanticism is kept burning bright when last Saturday, I had the pleasure of experiencing first hand one such ball, right in the heart of downtown Montreal.
Every year, the Austrian Society celebrates the Viennese Ball tradition by hosting its “Viennese Ball of Montreal” in a glorious evening of lively music and dance at which elegant ladies and fine gentlemen in gowns and black tie, assemble to waltz, dine, see, and be seen in one of Montreal's finest venues: the sumptuous Marriot Chateau Champlain.
A typical ball evening begins when most guests start heading to the Chateau around 7:00 PM. As numerous violinists serenade the arriving ladies and gentlemen descending the grand staircase, other attendees mingle with their friends and new acquaintances at the Champagne Reception. The moment right before the opening ceremonies, allows time for the guests to admire the gorgeous attire of others, sip their refreshments, have their picture taken by the photography team as well as having an opportune moment to view the numerous enticing items on display for the silent auction. Around 8:00, excitement levels are bubbling as the guests are called into the main ballroom for the opening ceremonies.
Depending on which ball it is, the opening ceremony may be less or more lavish. The Viennese Ball of Montreal included not only singing, dancing, and speeches by dignitaries and of course, the ball committee organizers, but also included an impressive performance sung with panache by a charming pair of opera singers – special guest base-baritone singer Rupert Bergmann from Vienna and Vanessa Oude-Reimerink from Opera McGill. Together they sang famous Viennese operetta airs by Franz Lehar including excerpts from the Merry Widow. The crowning highlight of the evening was the introduction of sixteen elegant, young debutantes and their escorts. With grace and beauty, the young couples performed their Debutantes’ Waltz to “Artist's Life” by Johann Strauss Jr., skillfully choreographed under the direction of Carole Brown from the Downtown Arthur Murray Dance School.
Everyone comes to a Viennese Ball to dance and socialize... Once the speeches and ceremonies are completed, the ball begins. The guests wait in anticipation for the announcement of "Alles Walzer!" or "Everyone waltz!" and that they do marvelously! The Marriott Chateau Champlain has one of Montreal’s best dance floors which quickly filled with dancers in the throes of every kind of dance from grand classical waltzes, to salsa, Argentinean tango and even hints of this year’s popular Gangnam style,happily performed by the numerous younger, exuberant attendees!
After the opening ceremonies, a scrumptious 5 course gourmet dinner prepared by chefs of the Marriott Chateau Champlain was served. This year’s menu beautifully paid tribute to Gustav Klimt’s works. Just as colours, forms and lines develop into symbols and abstractions in this Austrian artist’s works, the ingredients of this year’s menu created culinary compositions in their own right. A fresh assortment of three elements of the sea served as an appetizer, followed by a wild mushroom veloute topped with muscat and chives. A charming blackcurrant sorbet with a hint of vodka opened the pallet in anticipation of the main dish; a delectable beef short rib accompanied by cherry sauce and side vegetables. After a fresh almond topped roquette salad, guests were served an appetizing raspberry drabbled chocolate cone mousse with English crème and fresh fruits – the creation justly entitled: Homage to Gustav Klimt.
When you think that the night couldn't possibly get any better, it did! The Harold Birkens Orchestra, alternating with the Peter Freeman Band, kept guests dancing throughout the evening. There wasn't a room in the Chateau Champlain where you couldn't hear music. Right into the early hours, the adjoining Heuriger (Viennese wine tavern) was open to ball attendees in full regalia as a lively place to rest their feet, enjoy a traditional Goulash soup or Würstl and drink "G'spritzten" or beer while enjoying the remains of the dark hours while delighting in traditional Wienerlieder music.
Other attendees tried their luck and skill at the Charity Casino where cards were dealt at the numerous Black Jack tables and the Roulette wheel spun from 23:30 to 2:30, affording ample time for ball guests eager to win a wide variety of prizes.
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If you are interested in attending next year’s edition of the Viennese Ball of Montreal, the first thing I would recommend is to brush up on your dancing skills. Fortunately, the Arthur Murray dance School as well as other studios in the city offer regular as well as drop-in classes for locals and tourists alike. This year the Downtown Arthur Murray Dance School generously offered free dance lessons to the first 150 guests who purchased their tickets. This offered the public a wonderful opportunity to brush up on their waltzing steps, and it was also a wonderful way to meet new friends as well as have a lot of fun.
The Viennese Ball of Montreal is open and very accessible to the public and attendance is as simple as purchasing a ticket. The cost of an individual ticket is $250 per person and there are preferential rates of $150 for guests under the age of 30. Some after hour drinks and food at the Heuriger come at a minor additional cost, as do fabulous dresses and other associated expenditures, but being a young professional myself, I personally find the ticket to be of immense value. Furthermore, since this is a charity ball, the ball society will be able to provide partial tax receipts to attendees over 30. For out of town visitors, the adjoining Hotel Marriott Chateau Champlain is offering reduced room rates for Ball guests.
I would highly encourage anyone to attend at least one ball in their lifetime, as I found the experience to be truly magical as well as unforgettable.- and if you're a tourist, it's an experience you will never, never forget.