Andreas Geiger after Johann Christian Schoeller: ‘Der große Galopp von Joh. Strauß’, 1839, coloured copperplate engraving

‘A Kind of Frenzy’

Dancing and Other Pleasures at Court and in the Suburbs


Maria Theresa, her ladies-in-waiting, her dressmaker and probably even the latters maidservant all had something in common: their love of dancing. The Empress diverted herself at Court balls in the Redoutensälen, and the Courts routine was punctuated by Church ceremonies and feast days. The lower social orders took their pleasures at the ‘Hetz’ amphitheatre, where animal-baiting took place, but they also shared the Empresss predilection for dancing. In the heyday of the waltz in Vienna this passion seemingly broke all social boundaries. With an increase in leisure time and the weakening of traditional structures a new culture of pleasure arose for a broad spectrum of the populace, taking over from the courtly festivities of the Baroque era. Large numbers of people went to dances, coffee houses and visited the attractions in the Prater.

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