As we know from Plato and other writers, ancient Greeks much loved to have drinking parties or symposiums – and most any excuse could be used to party; a birth, marriage, or death, the arrival or departure of a loved one from abroad, a feast day or merely a change in seasons. Actually in most cases, however, no purpose was required.
The ancient Greeks loved to party. The drinking party or symposium was not however the ancient equivalent to a few guys getting together to pass the breeze and down a few drinks. On the contrary, it was a highly ritualized institution with its own precise and time-hallowed rules. Plutarch described the drinking party as “a passing of time over wine, which guided by gracious behavior, ends in friendship.”
By this measure the party to end all parties was that given in Brussels by the Duchess of Richmond on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo. Not only was it one of the greatest bashes of the Regency age - that grand epoch of parties - but it was interrupted at its euphoric height by news of battle. In Childe Harold Byron, professional party-goer that he was, could not resist transforming it into a liber- tine’s parable of life’s fleeting pleasures.
There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium’s capital had gathered then
Her Beauty and her Chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o’er fair women and brave men;
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes look’d love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage-bell;
But hush! Hark! A deep sound strikes like a rising knell!
Cannon fire. So perfect an interruption of collective pleasure was this, that other authors used it too. Thackeray described the same party in his great anatomy of human follies, Vanity Fair.
Lois Long, AKA Lipstick, flapper and old-school party girl.
Fresh from a night on the town, dressed to the nines, and flush from hours of heavy drinking, (New Yorker columnist Lois) Long managed consistently to leave the key to her enclosed cubicle at home and amused her colleagues by kicking off her heels, climbing in stocking feet onto the doorknob of her workstation, and hoisting herself over the demipartition wall. In hot weather, she’d casually strip down to her slip and clack away at her typewriter.
Because its offices were interspersed among several levels of a building … Long and her assistant were initially installed at opposite ends of the floor. After weeks of collaborating by telephone, to the amusement of everybody but (editor) Harold Ross, they donned roller skates and whirled back and forth between their desks, bobbing and weaving between overstuffed trash cans, abandoned cigarette stubs, and small mounds of stray pencil shavings. Finally, out of pure exasperation, Ross moved them both to a vacant restroom.
—From “Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern” by Joshua Zeitz