If you thought the after-parties for Oscars were the world’s best spots to bust a move and rub shoulders, think again. If you thought Puff (the Magic) Diddy’s “White Party” was the hippest scene on the block, it’s time for you to hit the books — the history books, that is! There have been a lot of insane and ridiculous parties throughout history, some of which happened in the last century.
Through the careful study of anthropology and antiquity, you’ll find some who knew how to rock. Sometimes you had to party like it was 1999 or 2009, or like it was 99 BCE for some of these.
See some of the most ridiculous parties in history.
15.) Fancy Dress Ball
Russia was at a bad point during the early 1900s. So much so that a revolution was thought to be on the horizon. However, Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, didn’t care. On 1903, they threw a huge fancy dress ball that was as lavish as the name suggests. It was not just one party either, but two different ones. The first was more of a concert.
This celebration goes down as one of the most ridiculous parties in Russian history. Empress Alexandra made pictures available the entire night for purchase by the guests. The purpose was to raise money for charity, but the people didn’t buy into it.
There was tons of food, dancing, and fancy dresses as far as the eyes could see. To no one’s surprise years later, the Czar and Empress were imprisoned during the Russian Revolution of 1917. They and their daughter Maria were executed together in 1918.
14.) Man Han Quan Xi
The Chinese once had an official party made for gluttony. The party happened in 1720 when it was scheduled as part of the Qing Emperor Kangxi’s 66th birthday. The concept behind the Man Han Quan Xi party/banquet was to align the ruling Manchus with the Chinese Han population. For three days, the banquet played guest to 2,500 people and stuffed them with food and wine.
The kind of food seen on their around 300 dish menu were things like duck, dumplings, roast pigs, and porridge. If you wanted to try something different, they also offered the likes of a bear paw, camel hump, bird’s nest, and even monkey brains.
This type of celebration happened off and on for several years under the Qing Dynasty.
13.) Mrs. Astor’s Fifth Avenue Balls
Caroline Webster Schermerhorn came from money. Lots and lots of money. Her parents were well-off due to their Dutch aristocracy and her father’s successful career as a merchant. She’d later marry William Astor, the grandson of John Jacob Astor, a wealthy man. Thus she came into more money, which the new Mrs. Astor used to throw lavish and occasionally ridiculous parties.
Taking part in these 19th Century parties was not easy, as it was the hottest invitation of the year. The Astor’s only invited 400 people or so to their New York City Fifth Avenue home to party. That meant only the biggest and grandest could be present.
Champagne, terrapin, pâté de foie gras en croute would be served. Music was even provided, with notable orchestras of the time being a regular occurrence.
12.) Field of the Cloth of Gold
Two men in history who were notable for their lavish parties were King Henry VIII and King Francis I. Eventually, the English and French royals decided to host a joint summit in 1520 in a valley near Calais.
The idea was to try and spark up friendly relations between the two nations. Instead, it turned into a huge competition of partying, making it turn into one of the most insane and ridiculous parties in world history.
The party lasted for two and a half weeks, highlighted by insanely elaborate tends with meat from 4,000 lambs, calves, and oxen. Plus, they had actual fountains of wine. The two kings even wrestled each other, and Henry was thrown to the ground.
To no one’s shock, France and England were on opposing sides of war by 1521.
11.) Shah of Iran’s Birthday Party
We’re used to kings, queens, sultans, and other royals throwing big parties. However, it tends to turn out bad for them in the end, so one would assume other royals would learn from it. The Shah of Iran didn’t learn from it, because in 1971 he decided to have a multi-day banquet.
The idea of it was to celebrate Cyrus the Great’s founding of the Persian Empire with a birthday bash for the Shah happening in the shadow of the ancient ruins of Persepolis.
He had an oasis tent made of 20 miles of silk put up, flew in food and chefs from France, and even went as far as to import 50,000 songbirds. Guests dined on peacocks and even sampled 5,000 different wines.
The guest list was a major line-up of royals like the Ethiopian Emperor, the prince and princess of Monaco, and more than 60 other royals and heads of state from all over the world.
Ridiculous parties like this resulted in a revolution that removed the Shah from power in 1979.
The original idea of Woodstock was to have a great four-day music festival on a huge 600-acre farm in Bethel, New York, in 1969. They lived up to this, with the party going for days.
Beginning August 15th of that year, 32 of the biggest singers and bands of the time were set to perform. Artists like Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, and even bands like The Who and Grateful Dead were present.
More than 100,000 tickets sold in advance, but no one realized the amount that would end up coming. Half a million people showed up at the festival, despite the major rain.
Woodstock mostly became famous for the massive amount of drinking and drug use, with some people running around nude. Others engaged in various sexual activities we cannot even talk about. It was one of the most insane, ridiculous parties ever. That is why it is still talked about today.
9.) Ball of the Burning Man
The French Queen Isabeau of Bavaria was known for her, shall we say, expensive loves. That said, a lavish party was not shocking to see. On January 28, 1393, she held a huge banquet at Paris’ Hotel Saint-Pol to celebrate a marriage of one of her maids-in-waiting. The event was set to involve King Charles VI dancing with five nobles, with each being in a “wild man” costume.
However, things went wrong when the king began dancing and his brother, the Duke of Orleans arrived. He came in drunk with a lit torch. Sadly, he got too close and ignited one of the costumes, which was coated in resin. It brought about a blaze that lit the men on fire. The king’s aunt saved him by covering him with her skirt, but four dancers burnt to death.
Ridiculous parties like this seemed to be bad ideas from the start.
8.) French Parties for Queen Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette was the queen of France between 1774-1792. She was known for her extremely lavish and ridiculous parties and her overly expensive tastes.
Due to her severe lack of care for the people, France fell into horrible times. The nation went so far downhill that people were dying in the streets from exhaustion, starvation, and malnourishment.
Meanwhile, the queen fattened up and continued to take from the people to feed her tastes both figuratively and literally. The ridiculous parties that she threw for herself and other high-class individuals from France and across Europe became a major catalyst for the French Revolution. In fact, she would be executed in 1793 at the age of 37 for her role in the nation’s fall.
7.) Ancient Egyptian Parties
The Ancient Egyptians knew how to party better than most. The reason we know this today is due to all the legendary things the people of the time are connected to. They loved to have a good time, and drunken, insanely ridiculous parties were massively popular during this time period.
Because people did not discuss the idea of homosexual or straight lifestyles, most parties turned into big orgies just as much as dancing and other things took place. While the Romans were more known for their orgy extravaganzas, the Egyptians were perhaps the most notable outside of the Romans.
Egyptian parties were not just for the random working man. These parties saw several pharaohs, as well as royal children, take part in many of the biggest celebrations.
6.) Boston Tea Party
The infamous Boston Tea Party is considered to be one of the biggest events that sparked the American Revolutionary War. The idea behind the move was that the British decided to tax the tea coming into America. They were taxing almost everything at the time and it was too much for the people.
American Colonials decided to fight back by dressing up as Native Americans and throwing barrels of tea into the Boston Harbor. It is one of the most well-known events in American History because of the impact it made.
To top it off, no one was killed or badly injured in the event.
5.) Any Party Louis XIV Threw
Louis the XIV, the “Sun King,” or the “Lavish S.O.B. if Ever There Was One” lived such an extravagant lifestyle that he arguably bankrupted his own country.
His horrible spending led to the French Revolution several years after his passing. 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 we mean huge parties — ridiculous parties royals from all over Europe flocked to attend. They’d have pyrotechnics that would still impress today, and even chessboards staffed by human “pieces.” On top of this, he’d have meals with 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 created an awesome, debauched party scene.
Speakeasies, aligned with the explosion of Jazz, became a massively popular scene. Mobs surged into power thanks to peoples’ insatiable desire for booze. This situation made for amazing, yet ridiculous parties that you had to see to believe.
The 20s didn’t contain the best of everything, but it certainly had a lot more good than bad most days. Cue the flagpoles sitters dancing the Charleston to Flapper girls dancing! The 20s were a great swingin’ old time. This is because of, but partly in spite of the 18th amendment, which banned booze as of 1/17/20. It was amended later for obvious reasons.
3.) 1829 Inaugural Party
The year was 1829, and the occasion was the inauguration of President Andrew 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 wilder. The party kept raging within the executive mansion until someone had the bright idea to move all the booze outside onto the grounds.
This naturally led people to eventually leave the house, which then resulted in many not being allowed back in. Far from being turned off by the party, however, Jackson went on to host several lavish, wild affairs while in office. Never again with 20k guests, though.
2.) Ancient Greek Symposiums
The forebears of the Romans in so many ways, the Ancient Greeks were experts on parties too!
The word symposium may today conjure up an ideal image of people meeting to discuss philosophy, the arts, etc. However, back in the day, meaning the 6th, 5th, and 4th centuries B.C., give or take, a party was pretty much about wine. While outright drunkenness was discouraged, hours of continual drinking were encouraged. This made for some crazy, ridiculous parties.
Yes, the Ancient Greeks were the OGs of “getting their 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 good party is largely accurate. If you were a member of the patrician class, you could count on lavish celebrations during the plural “moveable” feast days. Those were held pretty much whenever the Romans felt like it. There were five to seven of those per year, depending on the century.
Many smaller festivals and holidays dotted each month in the pre-Christian Roman calendar. Many of these events were indeed all-day, all night food-and-booze-athons.
For the record, the feast of Bacchus was usually the year’s biggest party. 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 do much at all, what else was there for fun but have lavish, ridiculous parties?
If you’re more into things than ridiculouse parties, click next to read about the world’s most expensive cars.