Life Ball Rocks Vienna

White tie went out the window this weekend as thousands of glam queens gallivanted up the red carpet for Vienna's famed Life Ball. Now in its fifteenth year, the stupendous party drew a colourful mix of celebrities and fancy dress aficionados in what has become one of the glitziest events of the season.

Previous guests at the ball have included Elton John and Donatella Versace, and this year Basic Instinct star Sharon Stone took up the reins as compere. The Life Ball has become the world's biggest fund-raising event for AIDS charities, and earlier in the week, Mrs Stone and former US President Bill Clinton accepted a cheque for 1 million dollars during a gala dinner at Schonbrunn Palace.

"Aids has become a chronic disease in western countries," Clinton commented. "But this is not the case in many other parts of the world, where thousands are left without drugs - but we have the money to save these lives."

As the clock neared nine on Saturday, 40,000 revellers descended on Vienna's Rathausplatz for the opening of the Life Ball extravaganza. Only 4,000 had tickets to get into the party, but spectators seemed content to enjoy the razzmatazz of the opening ceremony, which included cat-walk antics by Austrian swim star Markus Rogan and a concert by US glam-rockers the Scissor Sisters.

The Life Ball originally started as a humorous gay alternative to the starchier affairs of old school Vienna. But the event soon became a hit, and even during the first year the ball managed to raise some 79,000 Euros. Contradicting Vienna's fuddy duddy image, the Life Ball is the only gay party to have made its home in a political building.

More info about Vienna's Life Ball


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