Life Of The Party

Life Of The Party

backstage at Life Ball
Getting the models ready
takes hours of preparation

Vienna’s Life Ball Puts Europe’s Most Palatial City Into The Spotlight

It’s that time of year when Vienna, one of Europe’s most charming and underrated cities, undresses up for the biggest glamour event on its calendar.  That would be Life Ball, the charity fundraiser that sees the likes of telephone hurler Naomi Campbell, quinquagenarian siren Sharon Stone, and a whole lot of people in intricate costumes gather at Vienna’s City Hall.  Life Ball is Sydney Mardi Gras ten times over, not in size, but in enthusiasm; the whole city gets excited, and the event is broadcast all over Europe, with VIPs clamouring for the oh so precious tickets, not because it is politically correct to be seen in attendance, but simply because it’s a great party. 

Bill Clinton in attendance on
behalf of his foundation

This year’s event saw Eva Longoria and former US President Bill Clinton gracing the Life Ball stage, and this year’s Life Ball fashion parade featured the work of Patricia Field, she of her own clothing line as well as costume designer for Sex And The City and The Devil Wears Prada, sharing her talent with the adoring party people, themselves clad in a variety of outfits ranging from the outlandish to the outrageous with a bit of black tie and tails thrown in for good measure.  Accompanying some of the world’s top models was singer Katy Perry, who descended to the stage Botticelli-like in a clamshell.  There were a lot of shells this year; Life Ball’s water theme for 2009, Let Love Flow, saw an enormous pool built in front of Vienna City Hall complete with Venetian gondolas transporting participants to the stage.

Australia’s Pam Ann with
one of her passengers
The fabulous Patricia Field
was this year’s Life Ball
featured designer.

Life Ball is not all about parties, though.  The main reason for its existence is to raise money for HIV/AIDS charities.  Last year’s event raised nearly three million Australian dollars, half of which is used within Austria and half without.  Much of it goes to AmFAR, hence the presence of Eva Longoria, who this year replaced longtime AmFAR crusader Sharon Stone as AmFAR’s representative at the ball.  Life Ball has raised a considerable sum of money since its first event in 1993—more than 22 million Australian dollars.

One of the many venues within the enormous Vienna City Hall

As its website proclaims, Life Ball is the biggest and most spectacular charity event dedicated to raising support for the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS.  As in other countries, it has not been an easy road to success for Mr. Gery Keszler, head of Aids Life, the organisation that puts on this incredible event each year.  The fact that the city’s enormous municipal government offices are given over in their Gothic entirety is impressive enough, but what is done to them is even more extraordinary.  From the multiple stages within the building and courtyards where artists perform their numbers to mermaids swimming in their underwater fashion worlds, the place rocks with activity until the light of day on Sunday morning, by which time you’ll be ready to retire to the gorgeous Atelier at Rathaus Wein & Design, an small, ultracool hotel with emphasis on alcohol and style and as its name indicates, and with the type of bountiful Austrian buffet breakfast that makes you wonder why you don’t keep 35 types of honey at home.  The Atelier is a huge, classic European artist’s studio with soaring ceilings, tasteful decor, and a stack of CDs and DVDs to keep you entertained during recovery from the previous night’s excesses.  Room 305 has quintessential views of classic Viennese architecture looming just out the window.

Paul, a first-time model at Life Ball, waits to be made up and dressed.
Life Ball takes place at
Vienna’s beautiful City Hall

SWISS International Air Lines provides a suitably Germanic introduction to Life Ball fun.  With connections from Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, or Bangkok, or the US (LA, Chicago, Boston, or New York), SWISS has been racking up the awards for its inflight service, and it’s not hard to understand why.  SWISS manages to keep its pre-boarding time on the ground to a minimum and takes care of you once in flight.  Business Class is a private club of comfort, ensuring a good state of mind and body on arrival at Vienna’s Schwechat Airport, when you can visit the Vienna Tourism office right in Baggage Claim or check the Vienna Tourism  website for the best way to have fun in this most charming of cities.  If you hurry, you can be here in time for the Identities Queer Film Festival, 4-12 June, another of Vienna’s annual gay events, which this year is perfectly timed with the climax of Zurich’s EuroPride celebrations to make a visit to Central Europe well worth the flight.  Fly with SWISS to Vienna and have a stopover in Zurich to attend both events.


Source = WoRLdviews: R.L.B
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