Vienna feels like a happy city, and it cannot be anything but that if you consider it has over 150 officially listed Balls during the first three months of the year. Some are hosted by the city, others by occupations, churches, organizations, but no matter who hosts them, most are still open to the general public and tourists.
Why is Vienna so special in this regard? Emperor Joseph II, 1741-1790, had more respect for the common man and less respect for nobility than the average royal. He decided that the ballrooms in the Hofburg palace should not be reserved just for nobility. In 1773, he made the ballrooms available for public balls for the common man, a move that started the tradition of public balls in Vienna, and introduced the upper crust of the society to that dance of the commoner, the waltz. Balls became the Viennese way of celebrating the season called carnival, and when the demand for ballrooms exceeded those in the palace, other ballrooms were built in town, and all this before the Strauss family wrote their first note.
Over the course of decades and centuries, since the first balls were introduced, the Viennese society was using their balls to promote the cultural diversity and ever-growing multiculturalism of the city. Nowadays refugee balls, LGBTI balls, minority and immigrant balls, are equally represented and attended as the more traditional Opera Ball, Vienna Philharmonic Ball, Ball of the Coffeehouse Owners… Most of the times created as an awareness raising events, as well as the occasion for raising funds for specific causes, Viennese balls have been the icebreakers in social integration and multiculturalism for more than 300 years.