• 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: Georges Rochegrosse / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    74 VOTES

    After Taking Persepolis, Alexander The Great's Men Drunkenly Burned It To The Ground

    It's probably a stretch to describe the sacking of the city as a "party." For one, the city's residents would disagree with that characterization - recently captured cities have been the sites of some of history's worst atrocities. As for the invading army, historically, soldiers often received some or all of their compensation in the form of war booty. For soldiers, sacking a city was like a violent payday. 

    But sure, the sacking of a city did sometimes involve celebration, too. In 330 BCE, Alexander the Great captured Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. This victory was the culmination of over a century and a half of violent warfare between Persia and the Greek-speaking world. Alexander allowed his soldiers to strip the city of nearly all its wealth, including the city's opulent palace. The palace was one of the most luxurious buildings in the ancient world, as well as a symbol of the Achaemenid dynasty. At one point during the rioting, Alexander and his men were drunk and decided to put the palace to the torch, supposedly at the suggestion of one of Alexander's courtesans named Thais. According to various ancient sources, once Alexander sobered up, he regretted destroying the cultural landmark. 

    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: Sony Legacy / Amazon
    132 VOTES

    Woodstock '99 Did Away With Peace, Love, and Understanding

    In 1969, the original Woodstock rock concert was held during the height of the Vietnam war in upstate New York. It featured performances by the likes of the Grateful Dead, the Who, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. 

    But in 1999, when a group of organizers held a revival in honor of the 30th anniversary, it wasn't the same. While Woodstock '99 did feature many top acts like Elvis Costello, DMX, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it was also an overcrowded mess. Issues like inadequate supplies and sanitary facilities led to fields overflowing with garbage and sewage that turned the concert space into a muddy disaster. There were reports of 700 cases of heat stroke and three deaths. 

    Party foul?