The 48th annual Viennese Ball

Waltzing the night away

Sophie Geske

More stories from Sophie Geske


Photo by Sophie Geske

Attendees run in a circle to the Thunder and Lightning Polka.

The UW-Eau Claire hosted their 48th annual Viennese Ball at 6:30 p.m. March 31 and April 1 in the Davies Student Center.

Davies was transformed with decorations, bars, stages for performers and ballrooms for dancing. With this, the names of the rooms were changed for the night to reflect traditional names.

At this event, students, alumni and community members come together dressed up in formal attire to enjoy the festivities.

According to UW-Eau Claire’s website, for an additional cost, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. attendees were able to get a meal filled with traditional Austrian street food as well as dessert and a beverage.

According to the UW-Eau Claire website this event helped raise, “$1.5 million in music, service and international scholarships and awards.” This was raised primarily through ticket sales as well as dinner and other food sold throughout the night, along with donations.

The Inaugural Ball was held back in 1974 after a community member Ada Bors got inspired from her travels abroad according to the UW-Eau Claire website. 

For the first ball coordinators set a goal of having 600 in attendance, but ended up selling a total of 668 tickets which allowed the excess money to be donated to the Viennese Ball Music Scholarship according to the Vinesse Ball page on the UW-Eau Claire website.

“Austrian officials documented that UW-Eau Claire presents the largest Viennese Ball in the world outside Vienna,” according to the ball’s history.

Performances primarily focused on waltzes and polkas and there were dance classes offered that people could attend before the ball in order to prepare.

There were performances all over Davies with a variety of genres including jazz, a cappella and more performed by students as well as faculty to display the musical talent on campus.

Songs ranged from “You Make Me Feel So Young” by Patrick Williams, to “Emperor Waltz” by Johann Strauss, to “Shake If Off” by Taylor Swift.

Along with the music performances, there were special interest groups such as living statues, interactive theater groups and busking.

Lori Ruge-Jones is a Pastor at the University Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, and this was her second time attending the event, as the prior time she said she wished to go to the event it was canceled due to the coronavirus.

“I really like all the different musical offerings and the way that it highlights all of our talent on this campus, and that I know a lot of people that I get to see in different time slots,” Ruge-Jones said.

She also said that she is an extrovert and liked being around all the people.

Madison Day is a first-year student and this was her first time attending the event.

“I wanted to come because I saw a lot of the advertisements and it sounded like a blast,” Day said. “I really loved the a cappella groups. I am a music student so I really really love supporting our choir department and everyone who is a part of it, so the a cappella groups were all fantastic tonight.”

While the event has passed, it will return again next year. Information will be posted on the UW-Eau Claire website under Viennese Ball.

Geske can be reached at [email protected].