Pink Pearls Magazine Issue Nr. 3
presents the European Lesbian scene
Celebrating diversity in the imperial palace
When I got the invitation, I didn’t have to think hard; a gala ball in the Viennese imperial palace! The Sissi fan in me couldn’t say no. I’ve seen the three films at least ten times each, if not more. My only knowledge of German is from Sissi. ‘Er lest mir jeden Wunsch von den Augen ab’. Delightful. And now I was invited to a ball at Sissi’s crib.
The ball is part of the ball season in Vienna. This season is connected to carnival, there are two or three balls a week in the month leading up to carnival, and continuous balls from morning till night on the days of carnival itself. While in the south of the Netherlands the beer kegs are taken out for a boozefilled streetfest in bizarre outfits, in Vienna people get out their fracks with swallow tails and satin ball gowns to walz to Strauss under the chandeliers. A bit of cultural diversity in Europe.
This specific ball was not just a ball. It was the Regenbogenbal, organised by the LGBT-organisations of Austria. Since 2002, this is held every year, but this was the first time in the Hofburg. At the entrance to the Hofburg, you find a proud statue of emperor Franz Jozef. For the occasion, he was decorated with an enormous glistening rainbow. Loverstruck lesbian and gay couples posed all night with emperor and rainbow. Would he turn in his grave, or would he secretly have liked it?
As delegation of the European Parliament, we had to make an official entrance walking inbetween around a thousand visitors on each side. With Ulrike Lunacek, green co-MEP and most prominent lesbian of Austria, in front. The master of ceremony would have liked us to do something complicated with steps to pimp our entrance, but gave up that plan when he discovered that politicians don’t as a matter of course know what their right foot is.
The rest of the evening was a feast for the eyes. Men in satin frocks with sequins, boas and tiaras, women in fracks, a lady with a genuine Sissi dress with matching man in Franz Jozef costume, a group of bears in kilts, pink police in uniform. But also women in gala gowns and men in tuxedo. It was a celebration of diversity, with all possible variaties. As a hetero woman with my own male love on my arm, I was also a normal feature. And funny enough, there were many lesbian couples wearing the same dresses and gay couples wearing the same suits. Not that strange maybe. In every relationship, partners start resembling each other more and more as the years pass. With a same-sex couple, this soon leads to them dressing as twins.
The whole evening, men danced with men, women with women, men with women and women with men, on difference dance floors with walz, chacha, latin, jazz or house. High point of the night was the ‘publikumsquadrille’. The quadrille is a traditional row dance, with traditonally a row of women and a row of men who walk in dancestep from one side to another and back and turn so once in a while. But here of course untraditionally not. To manage the 500 gay and lesbian couples on the dance floor, the dance master spoke alternately of ‘the lady and the gentleman’, ‘lady one and lady two’ or ‘the one gentleman and the other gentleman’. The result was utter confusion and total chaos. I had a sore stomach from laughing too hard, it was marvellous.
If you were still waiting for political content in this column; there isn’t any. Last week in the European Parliament in Strasbourg I concerned myself again with the problems that homosexual people face in this world. Condemned Macedonia for not including sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination law. Condemned Uganda for the murder of gay activist David Kato. Criticised Hungary because the police there doesn’t want the gay pride in June to go past the parliament building. What made me most happy last weekend at the ball, was that there wasn’t any political message at all. It was just a cheerful and colourful celebration of sexual diversity, nothing more and nothing less. The only problem is that I can never go to a traditional hetero ball anymore after this. I would die of boredom.
What else is in this issue?
Now that fall has arrived in The Netherlands and winter is just around the corner, I look back at last summer. With a good feeling, because the summer was beautiful and lovely in many ways. » Read more
Carmen Lothmann is forty-two, and born in the catholic Bergstein, a village near the city of Düren. She grew up in a very traditional family. » Read more
Making music together, sounding impressive and full of ambition. These are all happy words for a group of musicians from London and South-East London. We met them during the 12th edition of Scala Erossos international… » Read more
In September, this year, hundreds of lesbian and bisexual women visited the International Eressos Women’s Festival on Lesbos, organised for the 12th time by the Greek organiser Sappho Women. Women from all over the world… » Read more
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