• Weird History

The Worst Parties In History

List RulesVote up the terrible party incidents that can definitely be called party fouls.

Everyone who has thrown a party knows that they can go wrong in all manner of ways. This is true for parties throughout history, as well. The historical record is full of celebrations that went awry. Many historical parties involving heads of state and power struggles ended in bloodshed - some of them served as inspiration for Game of Thrones. In more recent times, investors put millions of dollars into events and festivals that brought in major artists. But any time thousands of people gathered in a small area and things go wrong, it can lead to injury and death. 

Here are 12 of history's worst parties gone wrong. 

  • Photo: Mathew Brady / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    125 VOTES

    At Andrew Jackson's Inauguration, 20,000 Unexpected Guests Trashed The White House

    In 1829, Andrew Jackson was sworn in as America's seventh president after running a populist campaign in which he called himself a champion of the common man, five years after a similar campaign in 1824 fell short. 

    For the inauguration, the Jackson administration decided to uphold an earlier presidential tradition, where the White House held an open house on Inauguration Day. Around 20,000 people showed up to the event, trampling furniture and grinding food into the carpet - staff reportedly said the carpets smelled like cheese for months. 

    Party foul?
  • Photo: Philippe de Mazerolles / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    153 VOTES

    The 1393 'Ball of the Burning Men' Involved Flammable Costumes, And Ended Predictably

    In the court of 14th-century France, one way King Charles VI liked to party was by staging balls involving elaborately choreographed and costumed dances. Shortly after New Year's Day 1393, the court held a ball celebrating the upcoming wedding of one of Queen Isabella's ladies-in-waiting. This ball involved a dance of six high-ranking officials, dressed as "Wild Men of the Woods," a common figure in European folklore. One of them was the king himself. 

    The costumes were made out of straw, which was attached to cloth soaked in tar. The dancers also decided to hold lit torches (Alcohol may have been involved). Shortly into the dance, one of the costumes caught on fire, and the flames soon spread to everyone. A 14-year-old noblewoman put out the flames on the king with her dress. One dancer jumped into a barrel of wine, but the other four did not survive. The event became known as "The Ball of the Burning Men."

    Party foul?
  • Photo: Claude-Louis Desrais (1746-1816) / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    246 VOTES

    Fireworks Turned Marie Antoinette And Louis XVI's Wedding Celebration Into A Mass-Casualty Event

    In the 21st century, fireworks are a common cause of accidents and injuries. But this was also true in the 18th century. In 1770, Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI, the dauphin of France. They were 14 and 15 years old, respectively. The heir's wedding attracted thousands of people to Paris.

    The elaborate wedding included many fireworks displays. In the days after the wedding, wind blew partially exploded fireworks into a crowded Paris street. At least 133 people perished in the panic. Not the greatest start to the marriage that would end with the French Revolution. 

    The Ruggieri brothers, who orchestrated the fireworks display, did manage to recover and their company continues to operate today. 

    Party foul?
  • 4
    206 VOTES

    The Sixth-Century Nika Riots Were One Of The Deadliest Sports Riots Of All Time

    Any time a sports team wins a championship, its fans will almost always go nuts afterward. Usually, these mass celebrations are just a raucous good time, but sports riots can easily turn deadly. The 20th and 21st centuries are full of sports riots that ended in tragedy. 

    But sports riots aren't a recent phenomenon, and today's riots are far less fatal than the Nika riots, which may have been the deadliest ever. In sixth-century Constantinople, chariot racing fans could root for either the Blues or the Greens. Fans formed organizations, or demes, that functioned like fan clubs, but also resembled early political parties. Confrontations between fans of the Blues and Greens were frequently fatal, but tensions were the highest between 527 and 532 CE.

    In 527, Emperor Justinian, who was an ardent Blues supporter, married the noblewoman Theodora, who had been a fan of the Greens but later switched to the Blues. The royal family was obviously unpopular among the Greens. To make matters worse, years of heavy taxation left both factions unhappy with the emperor. 

    In early 532, Justinian harshly cracked down on a fight between the Blues and Greens. But when the emperor tried to execute the leaders of both factions, the executioners botched the job. At the next race, days later, fans on both sides put aside their differences and revolted against the emperor. The riots lasted five days and Justinian considered fleeing the city until Theodora shamed him into staying. Two of Justinian's generals put a stop to the riot by trapping and killing fans inside their own stadium, the Hippodrome. It's estimated that 30,000 perished, or about 10% of the city's population.

    Party foul?