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.
Times Square Became An Impromptu Party On V-J Day
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.
President Andrew Jackson Invited Thousands Of People To The White House For An Inauguration Rager
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.
The Ancient Egyptians Held A Festival Of Drunkenness
Ancient Egyptians knew how to make beer – and they celebrated it annually in the Festival of Drunkenness. The event commemorated a moment in Egyptian mythology where mankind was saved from destruction because a murderous goddess, Hathor, got drunk and passed out. To celebrate, Egyptians lit torches, danced, and "traveled through the marshes," which historians speculate may refer to sex.
And, of course, it wouldn't be the Festival of Drunkenness without alcohol. Every year, the ancient Egyptians drank a ton of alcohol and passed out. Everyone – whether they were a peasant or part of the elite – participated in this ritual together.
After Alexander The Great Conquered Persepolis, He Threw A Party That Burned It To The Ground
For Alexander the Great, there was no rival larger than the Persian Empire, and in 330 BCE, Alexander conquered their capital city. After taking Persepolis, Alexander gave the order to burn the city to the ground – all because a drunk mistress, Thais, told him to do it.
According to later sources, Thais was the lover of Alexander's general Ptolemy and maybe Alexander himself. As the conquerors celebrated, she drunkenly proposed torching Persepolis. Alexander's soldiers were "young and giddy with wine, and so, as would be expected, someone shouted out to form the comus and to light torches."
Female musicians played while the men burned down the palace and then the rest of the city. Later, Alexander said it was revenge for the Persian attacks on Athens during the Persian War.