The Science Ball 2017

As I proclaimed loudly in another post, I do love balls. Mind out of the gutter, perverts. I believe I have probably attended about 11 balls in the last few years but I am still not tired of going to them. While every ball is different, there are generally a few aspects that remain the same. You wear fancy clothes, you pre-drink, your feet will be incredibly sore by the end of the night and if you are me, you will exclaim throughout the night "THIS IS SO PRETTY! THIS IS SO AMAZING!" It never gets old. I do, but Viennese balls don't. There is something incredibly surreal about watching the midnight quadrille, surrounded by people dressed to the nines while you sip bubbly and of course film it all with your smartphone. So glamorous.

I do have to say that the Science Ball has become one of my favourite balls. Last year I attended it for the first time and I had a complete blast... well, the parts that I remember were amazing. This year was also fun. I was also lucky enough to attend the mayor's reception again. The mayor's reception is held about an hour before the opening of the ball. It takes place in a room that apparently is important because government/city decisions are made there and the walls hold all the portraits of past mayors and you always know you are in an important place where there is a portrait of an old man staring at you. Or you somehow ended up in Disney's Haunted Mansion. I'll get to that in a minute. Earlier in the day, a friend came over and we had our hair and make up did. My regular make up artist (I feel like a reality TV star when I write that) was unable to come so another woman came. She asked if I had an idea of what I wanted and I whipped out my phone and showed her about 10 different pictures. They all showed glamorous women with incredibly big hair. I said to her "I want the biggest hair you can give me. The bigger the hair, the smaller the waist." I take my fashion advice from Southern Belles, apparently. Once my friend and I were all dolled up, I ordered pizza because nothing says class like delivery pizza.

We finished eating, put on our dresses and headed out into the frigid night to wait for our taxi. I did not wear tights and my friend kept looking at me in horror and I shrugged but had a look of steely determination and said "I'm Canadian. I can handle it." Then I lost a toe. We climbed into the taxi and off we went to the Rathaus (City Hall). We walked through the arched courtyard and climbed the many many steps through the gorgeous neo-gothic building. We dropped off our coats and made our way to the mayor's reception where my friend said her name at the door and then pointed to me and said "She's my guest." And I might have tried to throw a gang sign to show I was legit. We walked into the reception and the organizer of the Science Ball, Oliver Lehmann, was on the step and repeat to greet us. We posed for pictures and all I could think of was: stomach in, chin out and lowered and oh my God, why didn't I wear Spanx?!?! I have total regret that I did not follow my own advice after seeing the pictures. After my 2 second feel-like-a-movie-star moment, I picked up a glass of champagne and we made our way to the back of the room. My friend knew many people in the crowd and I just shook hands and said "Hi!" and "Hi!" I did notice that most people introduced themselves by saying their full names and I really wished I could have said something like "Hi, Tova Marr von Mountbatten von Huffington" just to see what the reaction would have been. We found a table to stand at and I recognized someone I had embarrassed myself in front of back in November. We chatted a little and I spent the rest of the time, taking in the AMBIENCE! There were women in beautiful dresses and men in tails. A few even wore elaborate medals and one or two men wore the red and white sash that totes reminds me of Captain von Trapp.

Well hello there. When the Husband and I were planning our second wedding, I asked him to wear the sash and he was like "Yeah, no." and I may or may not have stamped my foot and whined "WHY WON'T YOU LIVE OUT MY PRINCESS FANTASIES?!?!" Heh. Brat. Around 8:30, the cameras started to go crazy and we knew that the President of Austria had just walked in. The crowd cheered and that was pretty amazing. And no, I did not get a selfie with him this year. I had visions of me clutching my champagne glass, pushing through the crowds and yelling "President Van der Bellen! Remember me from last year?!? We had a selfie? Remember!" and then the secret service would tackle me and I would yell out "SELFIE!!!" and that would not be a great start to the evening. After the cheering, I noticed that the mayor was standing right behind me and I totally started quoting Andy Garcia from the new Ghostbusters film: NEVER COMPARE ME TO THE JAWS MAYOR! Heh.

At one point I was able to take a picture of him so that I could Instagram it and be all like "Look! I am in the general vicinity of someone important!" Just before 9, Oliver Lehmann made a quick speech and thanked the President and the Mayor and then it was time for the VIP procession into the grand hall and for me to find my table. My date, my friend, was kind enough to arrange a seat at her table and it was great to see some of her friends I had met in the past. Bubbly was ordered, I also had purchased a pint of beer from another room and the ball truly began. I walked around and talked to friends who were attending the ball (they all looked so pretty), and I watched people waltz and tango and swoon. My friend G.G. was there with two of her friends from Canada: one is a great guy I have met a few times and who actually flies into Vienna to attend balls and that is so neat and international spy-like and her other friend had just arrived in Vienna for the very first time. I think attending a ball and being in Vienna for the first time is probably incredibly surreal and a little time warpy. When the midnight quadrille started, she just shook her head in amazement and said "I mean, I've studied Jane Austen but this..."

Oh hey you. Anyway. Around 1:30 a.m. I made my way to the almost empty VIP section because it has the best views of the ballroom and I wanted to sigh in contentment. I talked to a couple more people I know and had another beer because totally cheaper than a bottle of wine. I then did another little tour around City Hall and by 3, I knew it was time for me to head home. I was much better behaved this time around...and I had pizza waiting at home for me (my siren call). I walked down the beautiful steps and into the freezing night and stepped into a cab, Cinderella going home. Cinderella can't feel her feet. Cinderella regrets not wearing Spanx. The cab driver asked me which ball it was and I said the Science Ball and of course that seemed to be the perfect segue into the travel ban. I loudly declared I was a Canadian Jew and he announced that he was a Bangladeshi Muslim and I said "I got your back!" and as fate would have it, Sonny and Cher's "I got you Babe" came onto the radio and we sang a duet. Highlight of the night! It was another fabulous evening and one of the many reasons I truly love Vienna! I would be sad it is over but I also have a gala fundraiser to attend on Friday and on Saturday I will be attending the IAEA ball at the Hofburg. Living the socialite life.. if only I didn't have to work full time...I would excel at socialite-ing. And so there you have it, another fabulous Science Ball. I truly recommend it as a ball to visit in Vienna: it is the perfect mix of formality and fun and, of course, innovation and science stuff (I never claimed to know much about science stuff). And, like, the Science Ball is great because I get to stand beside the mayor and stuff... Happy waltzing! (and one more Christopher Plummer gif because yes.)


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