Widgets Magazine

Students host Viennese Ball for 38th year

Friday night, for the 38th year, Stanford students will host the Viennese Ball. Originally started by Stanford students who had come back from studying abroad at Stanford in Austria and were inspired by the balls there, the Viennese Ball has become a time-honored tradition for the Stanford community.

Preparations for the Viennese Ball are yearlong for both the Steering Committee, which plans the logistics, and the Opening Committee, which performs. Every year in the spring, right after the last Ball is held, the Steering Committee selects its next two chairs and the Opening Committee begins choreographing for the Opening Dance at the next Ball.

The Opening Committee began rehearsing in October last fall in order to be ready for the Ball in February, and has its final rehearsal today. For the past two weeks, the group has also hosted the Austrian Fortnight Classes, which prepare attendees of the Ball who may never have danced before and teach them common social dances.

“People who have no experience can go and learn from zero, people who have some experience can brush up on technique and learn a little bit more, and advanced dancers can simply practice and get to teach new people how to dance,” said Carlos Gomez ’15, the treasurer of the Steering Committee.

Gomez, who is also in charge of ticketing, said that the Steering Committee expects anywhere from 750 to 900 people to attend the event. Many of the Ball’s participants are active in the social dance community on Stanford’s campus and in the Bay Area at large, but experience is not a prerequisite to attendance.

“A lot of people say it’s their first time at the Ball, every year,” Gomez said. “We also get quite a few people, from my experience, that don’t know how to dance…but the community is designed such that if you do this, if you go with a minimal or no knowledge of dancing, someone there will teach you.”

Lewis Hom ’10, M.S. ’12 and JJ Liu ’14, M.S. ’14, this year’s choreographers for the Opening Committee, both had no social dance experience before coming to Stanford. They both took Richard Powers’ social dance classes as freshman, which inspired them to get more involved in the community and eventually participate on the Opening Committee.

“I’ve always thought of the Viennese Ball…as kind of this big celebration of social dancing at Stanford,” Hom said. “A lot of the big social dance groups get to perform, and they usually come up with really good pieces that they perform [only] for Viennese Ball.”

Liu added that one reason the Ball is so popular is because it is a uniquely welcoming opportunity for newcomers.

“A lot of the appeal of the Viennese Ball, as opposed to a lot of other social dance events that happen throughout the year, is that it’s really open and publicized as a big campus-wide event,” Liu said.

The Ball changes every year in regard to venue and music. This year, it’s being held at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara. Two live bands will be in attendance, each occupying one room, while a third room will have pre-recorded, contemporary music for dancers. But other than that, Gomez said, the event is similar from year to year.

“Really at the core of it, the essence of the Ball stays the same,” Gomez said. “It’s a classy night for people to enjoy.”


Contact Sarah Wishingrad at swishing@stanford.edu

About Sarah Wishingrad

Sarah Wishingrad '18 is a former Desk Editor for the University/Local beat. She is a History major from Los Angeles, California who loves politics, the waffles at Coupa, and all things Jane Austen. Ask her about her dog, Hamilton, at swishing 'at' stanford.edu.