Imitation. It’s the secret to winning over any group you want to be part of. I know. I speak from experience. As a restless 14-year-old, my mother informed me that my Thursday evenings were to be dedicated to ballroom dancing. Elmayer is where Viennese families send their kids to learn the essentials – to become salonfähig, presentable in polite company. We would learn how to bow and curtsy, how to greet and say a gracious farewell and, of course, how to waltz. My punk rock and hip hop loving self needed no such reason to rebel, but there it was.

“This is just what you do in Vienna, Maggie,” my mom said. “It’ll be fun.” I wasn’t buying it.

But guess what? It actually was. Alongside all the runaway hormones and sweaty palms (thankfully covered in white cotton gloves), I made some lasting friendships at Elmayer. The dancing school is one of Vienna’s age-old traditions that have changed little and continue to serve the same enduring purpose.

Later, we learned the fine art of tratschen (chatting) at coffee houses, where we’d land after school, just as countless generations had done before us.

Vienna, like every culture, has its heritage, the things that were simply “always done this way.” We wouldn’t have it otherwise.

In our cover story we examine Austrian and Viennese heritage, with all its drama, beauty and pitfalls of the human condition (24). We speak with the keepers of our customs, history and shapers of our cultural future in the profiles (34). Austrian culture is spread across the globe, in the form of art, music, theatre and architecture. For the Melange, we found one ambassador of the arts who has just taken up his post as the director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York (11).

Adopting the ways of the natives is a surefire way to blend into the woodwork while gaining a little insight into the Viennese mind. We show you the ropes in our How To (38). We delve into the life-blood of Vienna’s legacy, music and its relationship to Vienna after centuries as the breeding ground of the greats (40).

We go behind the scenes of Vienna’s biggest stages in our City Life feature, the Burgtheater, Volksoper and Konzerthaus (72). We listen in on the Resonanzen Festival of old instruments and gorge on schnitzel and champagne in horse-drawn elegance (94).

Throughout the magazine you’ll also find hidden content – video, music and additional information that becomes visible using the app described below.

No matter what you consider your heritage, we’ll have you spinning to the Blue Danube Waltz by New Year’s and beginning 2019 like an insider.

Check out our ball season highlights in the Event Calendar (15-17), and the new plays, shows, restaurants and movies to brighten the cold season. Grab some punch and find a date for your ball of choice and whatever resolutions you make for 2019,

don’t be a stranger,

margaret childs