The history of the Viennese Waltz is not as polished and clean as the clothes and faces of those who participate in this competitive dance form. Birthed in the modest inns at the outskirts of Austrian cities and 18th century Austrian society, the Viennese Waltz was an assault to the sensibilities of the more gentle population. It was performed in a spry 3/4 time signature with couples holding each other at no significant distance. In addition to this scandalous dance position, the rotary motion of the waltz at such a fast tempo resulted in the gasp-inducing revelation of women's ankles under their heavy skirts.
But time, politics and music proved to be fodder for the popularity of the Viennese Waltz, which was deemed an acceptable court dance at the Congress of Vienna, an assembly that was held between November of 1814 and June of 1815. This parliamentary nod also signaled a "transition from court culture to bourgeois culture" for the Viennese Waltz, Heikki Lempa states in her book "Beyond the Gymnasium." This movement from exclusivity to accessibility ultimately helped bolster this dance form's popular reputation, as did the compositions of Joseph Lanner. Lanner was credited with aiding this cross-caste shift by creating music that detracted from the Viennese Waltz's humble beginnings. His compositions were not only an accompaniment to the dance but were beautiful creations in their own right. Waltz master composers such as Johann Strauss I and his son Johann Strauss II also elevated the state of the Viennese Waltz through music.
Through the centuries, the popularity of the Viennese Waltz has had its ups and downs, finding a steady state as a dance staple. Today, the term "Viennese Waltz" refers to the up-tempo waltz, while the "Boston" is its slow-paced counterpart which is commonly referred to solely as "waltz." The Viennese Waltz is recognized as a competitive and social dance with competition in the International and American styles. The International Style Viennese Waltz is danced in a closed position with allowable techniques relying on rotary motion, pivoting and changes. Hesitations, Hovers and Contracheck are also acceptable. The American Style Viennese Waltz is open to greater interpretation both in position and movement.