America. Land of the free. Home of the brave. For better or worse – a lot of times worse – we’re obsessed with being the loudest, the biggest, and the best. And our parties are no different. Our national motto – E Pluribus Unum – basically translates to “let’s all get together tonight!”
It’s finally summer time, actual summer time. Having just celebrated Flag Day, and with ‘Murica Day coming up, we present the 10 Greatest Parties in American History.
1. The Heineken Party
Have you ever wondered why Heineken is so goddamn popular in the United States even though there are a million light beers from Europe just like it? It all has to do with the huge party that was the end of Prohibition. Once that pesky amendment was appealed, European brewers loaded their ships with all the beer they could carry, knowing that American’s were thirsty and ready to fucking party like a freshman on their first day of college. Although most of the boats didn’t reach the U.S. until a couple of days later, Heineken was the clear winner and soon the streets of New York were filled with their signature brew. The New York Times was so excited, they published an article exclaiming, “The first legal shipment of of imported beers in 13 years arrived Tuesday.” And for better or worse, we’ve been drinking out of that little green bottle ever since.
2. The Bradley-Martin Ball
The Bradley-Martins weren’t particularly interesting people – their sole claim to fame is a fete so large, it was said to bring about the end of the Long Depression in New York City. On February 10th, 1897, Corneila Bradley-Martin organized a party to, if you believe her, stimulate the economy of New York.
The theme was to dress up as prominent figures from the 16th, 17th, or 18th centuries. Bradley-Martin announced the theme last-minute to force attendees to have their garbs made locally instead of in France, and the average attendee spent $5000 on their outfit.
And you think your party was impressive because you spent $200 on “meh” liquors, PBL, and Trader Joes wines?
Well, all-told the Bradley-Martins spent $369,000 on their shindig. In 1897. If you’re keeping track, that’s $9.7 million in today’s dollars.
Talk about a stimulus package.
3. Andrew W.K.
This is an obvious answer, but if you’re not familiar with the part god that is Andrew WK, please allow me to submit the lyrics to my favorite song (and one I used to listen to every single day in high school), Party Hard:
“So let’s get a party going (let’s get a party going)
Now it’s time to party and we’ll party hard (party hard)
Let’s get a party going (let’s get a party going)
When it’s time to party we will always party hard
Party hard, party hard, party hard, party hard party hard, party hard”
4. Andrew Jackson’s Inauguration Party
Big moments are worth celebrating, and what occasion warrants a celebration more than becoming President of the United States of America?
Surely Andrew Jackson would agree. On March 4th, 1828, he was sworn in as President, and before he could even arrive to the Post-Inaugural reception, the public had already packed into the White House. It’s said that the party became so unruly and crowded that Jackson himself slipped away through a window and retreated to his hotel. Talk about a President we can identify with.
The party further descended into drunken chaos, destroying several thousands of dollars of fine China, damaging furniture, and grounding cheese into the carpet. The crowd only dispersed after White House staff placed punch and liquor on the front lawn to draw the crowd out of the White House.
Now, some say that these accounts are greatly exaggerated, spread by Jackson’s opponents who were afraid of his popularity with the working class. However, we’d prefer to believe that out-of-control house parties are an integral part of American tradition.
5. Don’t Tell Mom Party
In 1998 I was 17. There was no such thing as cell phones or Twitter or Facebook. People were literally forced to spend time with each other, as humans, in the real world (not the hit MTV show but also that). It was awful. One weekend my mother went to go take care of my grandmother who lived a mere mile from our ancestral, built in the 60’s, home. I decided to have a party. As a gentle reminder from just a sentence ago, my mother was just one mile from the house.
By 11:00 things were going great/drunk. The only thing anyone had broken was a large glass bottle of vodka on the street in front of my home. You could smell it from inside the house. What kind of fancy high schoolers were we, purchasing glass alcohol products and not giant plastic jugs with cartoon drawings of fishermen on them? At one point I noticed one single song, off Jock Jams, had been playing on repeat for half an hour. That song was Boom Boom Boom. When asked why the person responsible said I JUST REALLY LOVE THAT SONG. It is not a good song.
As I was HILARIOUSLY drinking from the high school beer stein all the seniors purchased (sure) the party suddenly got eerily quiet. I turned slowly towards the door to see my mother standing there.
Me: This isn’t what it looks like.
My mom: I think I know what a goddamn party looks like.
Me: Okay, it is.
She curbed her anger long enough to make sure all drunk teens were not too drunk and were drinking water. The next thing I knew she was sitting in the living room READING TAROT CARDS for all of my friends. Maybe THAT’S HOW SHE KNEW ABOUT THE PARTY. Or maybe, just maybe, you throw a party when your parents actually go out of town.
6. The Bull Moose Party
Ah, good ol’ Theodore Roosevelt. Was there ever a figure in American History more synonymous with virile hypermasculenity?
Teddy was a Republican, but this was before Republicans were the Republicans we all know and love(?) today. At one point in time, Republicans were the liberals and it was the wee old Democrats who were the conservatives. After he finished his second and final term in office, President Roosevelt selected William Taft to succeed him as the Presidential Candidate for the party. However, Taft was far more conservative than Teddy has hoped for, so he said “hold my beer”, rolled up his sleeves and formed a new party: The Progressive Party.
It was nicknamed the Bull Moose Party after Theodore Roosevelt himself, and it managed to accomplish… nothing. It divided Republicans and allowed the Dems to take power. But it also kind-of-directly led to the liberal, progressive Democrats we’re familiar with. To be honest, this party is probably only even remembered because Roosevelt.
7. The Boston Tea Party
I don’t know about you, but I like my parties with a side of revolution. And as much as 2015 may have tried, there was no riper time for revolution than 1773.
December 16th was a chilly day. The air was crisp; the water was still. Fed up with – ahem – taxation without proper representation, the Sons of Liberty destroyed an entire shipment of tax-happy tea in protest. Let’s not act like almost every American and their dog hasn’t been taught the story for most of our early academic careers. Just reflect that while a successful party for us is forgetting half the night and still waking up without a hangover, a successful party in 1773 catalyzed the American Revolution.
I love the smell of freedom in the morning.
8. The Donner Party
Hungry? Why wait. The Donner Party took a big ol’ bite out of the American Dream, and each other, when they set off for California from Springfield, Illinois in April of 1846. This was supposed to be fairly easy, a trip taken hundreds of times by other Americans who were headed West for swimmin’ pools and movie stars. The journey shouldn’t have lasted more than 6 months and ideally would not have involved cannibalism but so much happened to screw this trip up. It’s like they were filming a prequel to Final Destination probably called Destination (or in their case Manifest Destination SORRY MAN THE TRUTH HURTS).
The Donner Party was met by the Reed Party who later joined several other families along the 2,000+ mile trip across our, at the time, pretty unsettled nation (this is of course a pun). Things started to go south when they were instructed to take a shortcut suggested by Lansford Hastings who wrote The Emigrants’ Guide to Oregon and California. This dude should have known what he was talking about. The shortcut was later named the Hastings Cutoff but maybe should have been called OH SHIT DID NOT MEAN TO GET SO MANY PEOPLE KILLED Cutoff or maybe CUTOFF YOUR ARM AND EAT IT FOR SURVIVAL Cutoff.
I get it, who wouldn’t want to shave 400 miles off a 2,000+ mile trip? As of now my guess is every member of the Donner Party who died, but we’re skipping ahead (and a head!). First of all the road itself wasn’t very clear, so they essentially had to chop their way through parts of it (so proud of my pun game right now). Then a tuberculosis outbreak caused one man to lose his life. They tried to store up as much food and water as they could but the Great Salt Lake Desert wasn’t having it. By day 3 they had run out of water and their thirsty oxen ran off.
Once they got out of the 80-mile desert portion of the trek they realized they had depleted their supplies and didn’t have enough to get to California. At this point people were walking to lighten the load and one dude was like “I’ll just sit here for a while and die.” We are now into October and the weather is starting to get cold. They were able to reup their supplies but not before the snow hit. They were trapped. People began dying of starvation and exhaustion, and not the fake celebrity kind of exhaustion where someone took too much Xanax and needed a week in Malibu. Oh no, this is the REAL DEAL. It doesn’t take long for cannibalism to hop on the agenda in a conversation I imagine went something like this…
“What if, now hear me out, what if we just ate Frank.”
“Hate him? He’s dead. He deserves more respect than that.”
“I said ate, not hate, but now that you say it I did hate Frank.”
All told there were 87 emigrants and two Native Americans who made up the Donner Party. By the bitter end 48 survived. Ain’t no party like a Donner Party because the Donner Party don’t stop even if the food runs out.
9. The Wiig Party
10. The Illuminati
Some of us know about Bohemian Grove but all of us definitely know about the Illuminati’s all-night sex parties.
See also Garden Grove