Raging Defined: the Most Ridiculous Parties the World Has Ever Seen
5 Any Party Louis XIV Threw
Louis the XIV, the “Sun King,” the “Lavish S.O.B. if Ever There Was One” lived such an extravagant lifestyle he arguably bankrupted his own country, leading to the French Revolution many decades after his death. His palace, Versailles, was built so Louis would have a place away from the rabble of Paris where he could have some fun and throw little parties. By which I mean huge parties — parties royals from all over Europe flocked to attend. From pyrotechnics that would still impress today to chessboards staffed by human “pieces” to meals with literally dozens and dozens of courses, a party at Versailles was the best in the world at the time.
4 The Roaring 20s
If you were alive in America in the 1920s, you would have witnessed a classic case of a cultural backfire: prohibition basically created an awesome, debauched party scene. Speakeasies aligned with the explosion of Jazz; the mob basically came into existence thanks to peoples’ insatiable desire for booze. In short, some great things resulted during this time, and some less than great. But for those who wanted to party, the 20s were awesome. Cue the flagpoles sitters dancing the Charleston to Flapper girls, er, flapping! Cue Gatsby! The 20s were a great swingin’ old time, and this despite, or maybe because, of the stupid 18th amendment, which banned booze as of 1/17/20.
3 1829 Inaugural Party
Now let’s talk about a specific party: the year was 1829, and the occasion was the inauguration of President Andrew “Old Hickory/I Will Punch You in the Neck for Even Looking at Me” Jackson. At one point, there were upwards of 20,000 people inside and surrounding the White House, and the party seemed only to be getting bigger and more wild. The party kept raging within the executive mansion until someone had the bright idea to move all the booze outside onto the grounds, at which point people eventually left the house and were not allowed back in. Far from being turned off by the party, however, Jackson would go on to host plural lavish, wild affairs while in office. Never with 20k guests again, though.
2 The Ancient Greeks
The logical next step? The forebears of the Romans in so many ways, the Ancient Greeks wrote the book on parties, too! The word symposium may today conjure up an ideal image of people meeting to discuss philosophy, the arts, etc. But back in the day, meaning the 6th, 5th, and 4th centuries B.C., give or take, a symposium was pretty much about wine. While outright drunkenness was discouraged, hours of continual drinking were encouraged. Yes, the Ancient Greeks were the OGs of “getting your buzz on.” A Greek symposium was limited only to men, which seems a shame for both the women and men, but somehow they still had plenty of fun. Enough, apparently, to where one common Ancient Greek idiom was the saying “Hated is the drinker who has a strong memory.”
1 The Romans
While rife with misconceptions, history’s general view of the Ancient Romans as people who knew how to throw a damn good party is largely accurate. I mean, we still have toga parties today, more than 1,600 years after the Visigoths sacked Rome, right? Now, you didn’t want to be a poor Roman, that wasn’t much fun. But if you were a member of the patrician class, you could count on lavish celebrations during the plural “moveable” feast days (days like Thanksgiving that don’t fall on a specific date, but rather on a specific day) held every year. There were 5 to 7 of those per year, depending on the century. And there were many smaller festivals and holidays that dotted each month in the pre-Christian Roman calendar. And while many of these events were indeed all-day, all night food-and-booze-athons, there probably weren’t designated rooms just for vomiting. That’s likely a misinterpretation, sorry to disappoint. For the record, the feast of Bacchus was usually the year’s biggest party, because when you have a God of Wine, you celebrate accordingly. As the Roman high class didn’t have to work the fields, serve in the armies (at least as recruited soldiers) or often really do much at all, what else was there for fun but getting tore up?