Party Like it’s 1925

1920s  House Party

Here at Classically Educated, we think that everyone takes themselves much too seriously.  Hell, we’ll probably be accused of taking ourselves too seriously.  In fact, the very name “Classically Educated” reeks of pretentious big-headedness.  So we are officially declaring this week the “Week of Not Taking Ourselves or the Week of Easter Seriously”, also known by its simple acronym, WONT OOT WOES.  Our article on Thursday will probably poke some sort of  fun at something around Easter, but we had no article for today.

So, in the time-honored tradition of blogs everywhere, we asked a vampire to send us an article about how to party to run on Easter week.  I imagine all the other blogs are doing the same thing.  Well, at least those that recognize the universal truth that vampires haven’t been overdone.  Anyway, H’s post is below.  You may have read it before, but we don’t care.

Greetings,

As someone who’s seen it all over the past few thousand years, the most surprising thing isn’t that I’ve seen everything once, but how often I seem to see the same thing, over and over again.  History, in my opinion, doesn’t move in great cycles, it repeats itself once every generation as new teenagers ask the same questions.

I am always amused by how every generation believes, firmly, that it invented the out-of-control, call-the-cops and get-excommunicated-immediately party.  Ninety percent of people between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five would probably tell you that their parents were the sort of people whose idea of a good time was dinner, a movie and home by ten.  Teens today would be hard-pressed to picture younger versions of their folks in a typical 1980′s cocaine blowout.  They’d probably have an even harder time with the image of their grandparents at Woodstock.

The reason each generation believes that theirs are the best parties, is because they are clueless (and mortal, which means that most of them can’t even begin to imagine what real parties are like!).  They feel that, having finally gotten beyond the bounds of childhood, they are doing things never before permitted to anyone else.

Hah.

Over the past few millenia, I’ve observed several truly golden eras of debauchery, and I feel that a list of the great eras of the party is justified.  Of course, I will limit myself to those parties at which an undead person would 1) not be ashamed to be seen at and 2) not cause a panic.  I’m certain there have been some enjoyable orgies among illiterate goatherders in unregarded rural villages in the Appenines, but we need not concern ourselves with them for the nonce.

I present, in order, the great party epochs you shouldn’t have missed if you were alive, or undead, at the time:

Hanging Gardens Engraving

5) Babylon under the rule of Ishtar.  The energy of budding civilization – there were no rules for anything back then – great-looking city walls and the best setting for a garden party ever made the nightlife noteworthy.  The fact that the largest prostitution ring was run by the official religion (giving you an idea of what ‘morals’ meant back then) made it legendary.

Pericles and Architect

4) Pericle’s Greece.  Have you seen the movie Caligula?  Yes?  Good.  Well, remember that they were Romans, and the Romans learned everything they knew from the Classical Greeks.  They stole their gods, their alphabet, and their ethics from the declining Hellenes, but something was lost in the transition.  The Greeks remain the true masters of the decadent orgy.

Check out Dude with Head

3) The court of Louis XVI.  Talk about throwing everything at a party.  These people had the entire wealth of a nation to spend on their blowouts – and they did.  Each noble saw it as his duty to bankrupt his duchy to purchase wine when his turn to host the proceedings rolled around, and the dress code was strict: brand new clothes produced to that week’s fashion would get you in – anything else would get you sent around back to the servant’s quarters, although this banishment would likely only last until the inebriated nobles – male, female, undecided, undead, whatever – came around looking for something to add variety to the revelry.  It was a time of parties well worth losing one’s head over.

Victorians!

2)  Victorian England.  Let’s just say that neither Charlotte Bronte nor Jane Austen got invited to the good parties.  The late 19th century was a riot behind closed doors, and the upper classes went further and farther than anyone had dared before or since.  If I weren’t sworn to secrecy, you’d be shocked at the truth behind Jack the Ripper.  The only thing keeping this epoch from taking the top spot was their insistence on using opium-based drugs.  Not much of a party when one is too relaxed to stay upright.

Driving home after the party

1) The roaring twenties.  American Robber Baronesses meet the landed European gentry – and seduce it.  Women’s liberation finally brought what had been happening forever out into the open.  We were introduced to the vamp, the femme fatale and the powerful female figure, much to the distress of the middle class, who have always been the only ones to believe in morality in the first place (which is unsurprising, since it has always been a tool to control them).   Hard drugs and slinky dresses, impeccably dressed men and fast cars all performing to the beat of the foxtrot at eleven, and the tango at three – a prelude to other things.  If you moved in the right circles, prohibition was a joke – something that happened to strict churchgoers.  Black Tuesday robbed future generaions of the pinnacle of party – perhaps it’s just as well, because there was no way that generation would have survived much longer if they’d gone on like that.

Best of all, these epochs were undead-friendly, provided that particular undead didn’t smell and had gone to the right school.  Imagine popping into even the best party today, and asking if the house had an excess stable boy whose blood you might suck – your host would grow pale and mutter some lame excuse.  And you call that a party.

The bar has been set.  I expect all of you to strive to clear it from now on.

H

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87 comments

  1. I got to be honest with you. I don’t remember the roaring twenties but I am sure that there are many similarities between that time period and now! What do you think?

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    1. There are some, but the absolute sense of social irresponsibility seems to be completely absent nowadays. The twenties were reprehensible in ways that green, socially connected modern party-goers seem incapable of imagining… Those were good days to be a vampire!

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    1. Well, there was everything from wife-swapping, which, though older than the Victorian era, appears to have picked up that particular moniker at about that time, and some of the things the royals got up to… well, let’s just say that a complete list of Jack the Ripper suspects makes for interesting reading (even if the compilers were lunatics, they make you wonder why certain names are considered candidates). Also, prostitution was an open part of the accepted nightlife among all social classes – and yet they never seem to be mentioned in the classic novels…

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  2. Greetings from India.

    I was just wondering about the parties in India at that time. Between I and II world war. It was the beginning of the end of the British rule in India. The British and the Indian Elite did party together but I guess the period was known more for the start of the liberation from the Brits.

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  3. I once read about a Chinese emperor (forget his name), who would force (not invite) his lords and courtiers to attend parties where everyone would strip down naked and get into a pit filled to the brim with rice wine, and then proceed to chase around naked concubines. That in of itself is noteworthy historical debauchery.

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  4. What??? No trampolines??? Those are really fun. I feel like Caligula would’ve found a way to incorporate one into a sex or torture act, depending on whether it was greco wrestling or just chillin in a Roman bath. And Jack The Ripper, hell he jumped on a tramp every night. Perfect activity for a flat-chested flapper girl too. And by that i mean ALL flapper girls. They’d never hit themselves in the chin mid-jump you see. It’s just math.

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  5. Excellent way to enrich history with entertaining fantasy. You may wish to check out a called pride and prejudice and zombies as your post reminds me of it. All the best

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      1. I don’t recall many trampolines at parties… But who knows, with correct usage, the millennials just might make them popular and earn a place on the next list…

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  6. Sounds like you’ve the start of a great series of books here: Horrible Histories for Adults.

    What’s the story about the prostitution ring run by the official religion in Babylonian times?

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    1. Thanks! Well, there are a number of people who make the blog possible, from guest bloggers to proofreaders to ideas people to groupies (OK, we don’t have groupies yet) who make it much better than if it was just me – I am just the front man, the visible face of the organization. Kind of like Dr. Evil…

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  7. interesting post; equally interesting way of teaching history. I’ve been struggling as well of formulating how time works, because as you said, I’ve also found history to continually repeat itself, despite of the sage motto: “those who did not remember history are doomed to repeat it.” History repeats itself regardless. When researching Vietnam, I stumbled upon “Fire in the Lake,” where the author makes mention of how the villagers considered how time worked. For them it was like the four seasons in the rice fields: circular.

    Also, a quick note on historical parties: I believe the party crowd is actually the minority, it only seems like the majority, historically speaking, because no one really writes about the larger moderate group. Historians, yesterday and today, research what catches the eye and what has the most evidence. Very little evidence has been collected regarding the silent majority.

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    1. True, of course. Moderates and the “regular guy” are deeply underrepresented in most histories. I know it sometimes leads to deformation of what life was actually like in a given historical period – of course historians are working on fixing that, but they run the risk of giving too much wight to groups that were disenfranchised and not particularly influential. I think that balance between revisionist inclusivity and traditional methods is going to make history a ver interesting field in the next few years!

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  8. Charlotte Bonte or Louis XVI never passed a bong like at my party dude! I bet they never had seizures of the ‘good stuff as well! Long story short man you want to get high?

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  9. I literally just talked to my neice about the Great Depression following arguably the most excessively drunken revelry period in American history, how it seems a little too Biblically veritable to be a coincidence of mere earthly events. Following one of the bloodiest wars as well.

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    1. Well, the war prior is often cited as one of the reasons for the extremely “live for the day” attitudes of the twenties… And considering what was coming, they were probably glad they got their partying in… there wouldn’t be much cause for joy until 1945!

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  11. Hello! My name is Nymphe Foresther. Do yo want to perform web banner exchange with me ? I have traffic on my blog so if we join ours then we have more together… More info about me ? Just click my avatar profile picture or name. Thanks. N.F.

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  12. “Stocks reached record peaks, and Wall Street boomed a steady golden roar. The parties were bigger, the shows were broader, the buildings were higher, the models were looser, and the ban on alcohol had backfired. Making the liquor cheaper.”
    – Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby (Movie)

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    1. Oh, yeah. In my experience, Gen Y is less apt to drunk and disorderly than Gen X was… And have you seen any party footage from the sixties??? To be honest, I think parents have grown more and more overprotective of their precious snowflakes.

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  13. I’m convinced parties have all been pretty much the same for the last 5,000 or so years. If I were in a party in 1925 and I was blind, I probably wouldn’t be to tell when the party took place until I asked someone a current events question.
    dailyquizquestion.wordpress.com

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  14. To be honest, I thought 14th/15th century France in what is now southern Brittany might have got a mention in the top five.

    As a young man, I went to see the film – “The Devils” by Ken Russel I think, which depicted a time when the Aristocracy and the Upper echelons of the Catholic Church were shall we say given to excess. The City was eventually sacked and the white stone taken to build other local edifices.

    Of course, the only reference I’ve seen of the period, was the film, and for those who haven’t seen it, it’s not for the squeamish… (lots of Blood, Gore, and naked bodies)

    I seem to recall some medical treatment involving Bees held against the patient’s skin under small glass jars, forcing the Bee-sting to be injected into the affected part (though tbh, it was 40years ago, so my memory is pretty hazy – and I’ve led a fairly happy life shall we say… ;¬))

    As for the blog topic, It was pretty humourous, and really made me smile. A wierdly humourous take on a pretty dimly lit part of world history, that lays at the door of the wealthy their lack of morals… Pretty Damming, and done with wit and charm.

    Well worth the read..

    W
    (http://moneymatterstoo.wordpress.com)
    (http://moneymatterstoo.blogspot.com)

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    1. Thanks! Not really sure where the idea came from. The character existed first, and it just seemed like something he’d write about…

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      1. Brilliant. Almost like in photography when you blur certain parts of the background to give focus to an element in the foreground. .. that’s really neat. I’ve never been a great story teller so I always appreciate how writers can bring complexity. Really enjoyed the read : )

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      2. Thank you! I enjoyed putting this together, and was saddened to have to keep the list at only five!

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      3. I just might have to put it together – this seems to have been fun for a number of people! I have some other Baron H lists I may just share, seeing how well this one was received!

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I also think the fact that most people don’t know too much history when they get to partying age also makes that sensation stronger!

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      1. Your joking right??? I mean… the sexual revolution??? LSD??? Rock Music?? It was a golden age… I reckon you got the 60’s then the 20’s then before that the bella epoc and then before that…. i don’t know..

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  15. Interesting subject and the discussion has an interesting take too. You make some great points regarding teens and partying. Is it ok to sort of hate parties for a vampire?

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    1. Of course. Vampires are allowed to do whatever they like – it comes with the pale complexion and the fangs. Who ever heard of a sociable vampire?

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  16. Well, it never was supposed to be a serious discussion. I already had a good 20th century era, and wanted to explore other epochs – as I said in a different comment, I may have to do another list sometime. The interesting thing about partying is that we are used to the current standard, which is to rebel against the Judeo-Christian / middle-class standard of morality prevalent today. Remember that in other cultures, and in other centuries, morals – and therefore the rebellion against them – were very different, and they often started from a level of “acceptable” that even our most fervent party animals today would find iffy.

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