30 January 2010
Last night I went to a ball! The Zuckerbacker Ball. Zuckerbacker means something along the lines of sugar-baker, so this ball is put on by the confectioners and bakers of the city.
When I came in I was given a wee cake. Only the girls got cakes though. After taking a photo so as not to forget it, I ate it. It was delicious - like chocolate and oranges.
On the way into the ballroom you walk past the Tombola, which is like a raffle. These are all the prizes that you can win. It is not quite like a raffle though, because every ticket wins something.
The prizes ranged from small candy treats to gift bags and cakes to the really fancy cakes. Here is one of the big prizes below:
The ballroom was huge and so full of people. Some of the dresses were amazing. And I loved the decorations. You can see the stage below and the giant cakes hanging from the ceiling. There was a small orchestra to play dance music and in between sets were more modern songs sung by another band. Not quite modern though - they sang Achy Breaky Heart.
The ball was opened by dubutantes and this took far longer than I expected. The started off by walking out, all in time, and then had to stand and listen to someone talk, and then crouch down while important people walked through. Then again as all their parents walked through. And then they had to stand and wait while prizes or acknowledgements of some sort were given out to the important people who organised the event (at least that's what I assume it was, but it was of course all in German). Finally they did their opening dance (surprisingly short) and the ball was open.
In the photo below you can see the debutantes lined up and all the decorations hanging from the ceiling. There are nets full of balloons, these are called Gluck-balloons (luck-balloons) and throughout the night there were balloon drops. Some had tokens inside them for prizes. They also eventually lowered the strings of balloons but these ones had no prizes, that was just for the fun of it.
A part of the ball was a cake competition, and some of the entries you would not believe were cakes at all if you didn't already know it. I didn't take photos of them all because there were just so many and they were all so impressive. This one below was quite good though and won a prize:
And this next one was my favourite and also won a prize. Unfortunately it fell down before the end of the night (it is actually supposed to be all wonky like that though). And clearly the them was clowns.
The cakes below are just one table of many. These were given out as prizes in the Tombola and also if you paid a bit extra for your ticket you got to take one home regardless.
There was a small kitchen set up where they were making treats to eat. There were heart shaped biscuits with your name written on them as prizes for every ticket that ended with a 5 (not mine unfortunately). They were also giving away some sort of eclair filled with cream. In the middle this photo you can sort of see the cakes in the middle being decorated. It is amazing to see how quickly they can turn a cake into a masterpiece. And right at the back you can see the bread rolls being made.
The bread was delicious - it was so warm, and had some sort of orange or lemon glaze over it. It was quite hard to get some though, everybody waits for the next batch to be ready and then suddenly there is a frenzy of bread-grabbing (although compared to the gluck-balloons it was very tame).
Unfortunately I mostly stopped taking photos after this because I was tired of carrying my bag around. The dancing was amazing, but a photo wouldn't have done it justice anyway. To see them whirl around, and so many at once yet they don't seem to bang into each other. Balls here are real balls, and very worth going to. There is not just a single waltz, it is waltz all night long. Some of the dancers are so good, especially a lot of the older couples. They look so light on their feet. I really wish I could do it.
The first balloons fell before midnight, and I managed to get some. There was a lot of pushing and jumping and popping of balloons, but after catching one I noticed some on the ground so I grabbed a couple and made my way out of the crowd. Two had prizes! This was my prize:
Isn't it nice? It is a biscuit of some sort, and the expiry date says December 2010 so maybe I will refrain from eating it for now and keep it on my wall? Also my raffle prize, which was not a big fancy cake unfortunately, just a small hamper, but still very nice:
And then there was the midnight quadrille - once again a photo would have shown nothing at all.
You line up on the dance floor, and a conductor on the stage explains what to do (in German of course). You begin with one part at a time slowly, and then to music. And then the next bit. And then you sort of put them together. And then it begins to get faster and faster and faster. It is all stepping forward and bowing/curtseying to the person facing you, then acrossways and sideways and in between all being swung around by your partner or swapping places with the person opposite. It is very confusing, like being tongue-tied with your feet. And so much fun. And it ends with thing where you race down the line beneath everybody's arched hands, then at the end you continue the tunnel, and eventually it is your turn again, and it just goes in a huge exhausting circle. It is like what you see in movies and read about in books that are set about a hundred years ago or so. Only far more manic.
After the midnight quadrille the long night really begins to catch up on you. The crowd thinned a lot. There were two more gluck-balloon drops. I missed one but tried to join the third - it was such a brawl! There were girls up on their partners shoulders, a lot of pushing and it was impossible to get anything. Fun though, only you had to be carefull not to fall or step on anybody. Then there were the big balloons that were released, which had no prizes but were huge so I got some anyway. And lastly there were some last prizes dangling that were lowered but they were even more impossible to reach than the balloons. It made for a good atmosphere though and at least I got prizes from the first balloons. By the end of the night the dance floor was covered in pieces of balloon.
So lastly here is me, at the end of the night before going home (with all my plunder):
I managed to find a dress for only 20 euro! That's like 40 bucks. Going to a ball is still quite expensive though, and this was one of the more informal, less expensive ones. But I would love to go to another. To think that I won't be here to do this again next year, it is so disappointing. I really hope that I manage to come back eventually.