Most history classes leave out one of the best parts of the past: all the crazy parties. The biggest bashes in history included a punch bowl so huge that a boy rowed a boat in it and an ancient Egyptian tradition where everyone got black-out drunk on beer – and that's just the beginning when it comes to the best parties ever.
Some wild celebrations took a dark turn, like the French Bal des Ardents, during which the king narrowly avoided burning to death in the middle of a wedding. Others are just strange, like when Andrew Jackson invited 10,000 people to the White House to devour 1,400 pounds of cheese, which left behind an "evil-smelling horror." And then there was the banger at the Vatican with prizes for whoever got intimate with the most sex workers.
The biggest ragers of history boast more booze, debauchery, and in some cases, destruction, than even some of the wildest modern parties.
When Old Hickory stormed into the presidency in 1829, he reportedly invited a drunken gang of supporters to the wildest party in White House history. Andrew Jackson supposedly declared his inauguration would be an open house, and an enormous crowd descended on the executive mansion. As many as 20,000 people showed up to drink, destroy furniture, and nearly tear apart the building.
According to reports, Jackson himself had to jump out the window to escape the rowdy crowd. The White House was saved by the promise of free liquor if the partiers left the house. Afterwards, Jackson asked Congress for $50,000 to redecorate.
In 1520, England's Henry VIII and Francis I of France held a meeting that became known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold. The event's rich name came from the costly canopies and furnishings. Both sides showed up ready to impress the other, and no expense was spared. The meeting lasted two-and-a-half weeks.
The event included the construction of an enormous temporary palace, which 6,000 workers built just before the kings arrived. The monarchs definitely wanted their meeting to be an extravagant gathering, as they included two fountains in front of the palace with wine and beer for guests. After the party, the valley where the kings met was renamed the Valley of Gold.
When Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945, ending World War II, Times Square in New York City instantly became a crazy party. V-J Day brought thousands out to celebrate the end of years of war. The crowd was both exhilarated and relieved that the deadliest war in human history was finally over. According to a Time article published at the time, "Booze flowed; inhibitions were cast off; there were probably as many fists thrown as kisses planted."
The most famous image from the party, taken by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, shows a sailor kissing a nurse. Years later, the man in the photo confirmed that the nurse was a stranger, and he simply grabbed her and kissed her in celebration; the photo later spurred a controversy, as some viewed it as a form of sexual assault.
Edward Russell was fresh off a naval victory against the French when he became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1694. That same year, Admiral Russell decided to throw an enormous party in Cadiz, Spain, and the star attraction of the festivities was a fountain filled with punch – over 2,800 liters of punch, to be exact.
The punch fountain was so huge that a boy literally rowed a boat across the enormous serving dish to distribute the highly alcoholic drink. The mob grew so rowdy that men eventually jumped in "with their shoes and stockings and all on," tipping over the boy's boat and nearly drowning him. "But to prevent further danger they sucked [the punch] up, and left the punch bowl behind."