I have a bone to pick with the Viennese opera house, the Wiener Staatsoper.
On Saturday night, I stepped out on the town in the hope of seeing La Syphilde.
I love going to the ballet. For me it is usually a totally magical experience.
Not this time.
I was dutifully following the snake of the standing-room ticket line, when I was approached by a member of staff…
‘You can’t go in like that’, she said.
‘Like what?’, I asked, bemused.
‘Wearing shorts’, she replied.
‘But… but.. these are… TWEED CITY SHORTS!’, I spluttered.
‘And I’m wearing them over tights!’
Her: ‘No shorts. That’s the policy.’
‘Well, what am I supposed to do about it now?!’
‘I don’t know,’ she shrugged.
‘Go home and put on something longer.
There went my Saturday night plans out of the window, to be replaced by laundry and watching unintelligible Austrian dating shows.
I have several problems with the no-shorts policy and its application, which I will enumerate forthwith:
1) Even from within the Staatsoper’s antiquated appropriate-level-of-formality paradigm, I was by no means shabbily dressed. This picture demonstrates my offending lower half (and yes, since you ask, those are leather boots, hand-made by Catalan artisans in the foothills of the Pyrenees):
Compare me to the girl in front of me, who seemed to have arrived directly from the airport, and who was dragging along a bright pink suitcase, and I think I came out on top in the style stakes.
2) You saw this coming… I reject the appropriate-level-of-formality paradigm! Even if I had looked a bit down-at-heel, aren’t the worlds of opera and ballet famously trying to shed their elitist image? Aren’t the arts for everyone, regardless of economic or social circumstance? Isn’t the whole point of the 3 EURO standing-room ticket to encourage people who wouldn’t usually think of stepping inside an opera house to give it a go? Apparently not in Vienna.
3) The gender thing. If my shorts had been a skirt, I would have been let in. Mini-skirted girls were waved through without a second thought. The fact that my garment placed a fabric barrier across my crotch disqualified me for entry. This strikes me as grossly prescriptive and unfair.
4) Did I mention they were TWEED CITY SHORTS!?
Humph, humph humph… I should have worn a six-nipple dog jacket.