Off the Waltz 

The Brassworks Band will be busting out the Strauss.

Friday Night Waltz is throwing a New Year's Eve Viennese Waltz Ball, but don't go looking for that supersize cigar just yet. "In Vienna, starting with New Year's Eve and through, I believe, Fat Tuesday, it's the ball season," FNW coproducer Scott Gamble explains. "They have maybe three hundred balls in Vienna; it's quite an amazing thing, and it's very formal over there. In California we do it our style, of course, which is a little more relaxed. We just have some music and get together with some friends, and have a good time dancing the evening away." The party, which in past years has had My Fair Lady and Top Hat themes, will feature the Brassworks Band playing plenty of music by Johann Strauss, with emphasis on Viennese waltzes and polkas. "Viennese waltz is a special kind of waltz to very fast music," he says, "typically the Romantic era of music. You turn left when you're rotating, and it's very energetic and enthusiastic, and you have some special figures when you're dancing a Viennese waltz. Maybe about 20 percent of the dances will be Viennese waltz."

The rest of the dances will include other waltzes, polkas, swing, tango, and one-step. But the Friday Night Waltz group, who has been hosting dances for four years now, isn't stuck too far in the past. For example, Gamble says, "Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' is a wonderful waltz." The only thing that attendees have to know is a basic, right-turning waltz, and a date isn't necessary (nor is formal wear, which will be "admired, but not required"). "Our dances are not couples dances," Gamble says. "They are 'people coming in with friends' dances. ... Rarely, if ever, do you dance with the same person for even as much as 25 percent of the dances, because there's so many dances and so many people." The evening, held at the Moroccan-style Chevron Auditorium, built in 1927 as part of UC Berkeley's International House, is alcohol-free, and admission is $25 at the door or $20 in advance. Visit FridayNightWaltz.com for tickets and complete event schedule.

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