From music festivals to beach bashes, summer gives us the freedom to frolic outside and enjoy a margarita…or six. Summer really is all about the evenings of partying until the early morning with friends, or afternoons in the park, reading in the sun. We decided to combine these two fantastic summer activities by giving our take on the six wildest parties in literary history for you to fantasize about and maybe be inspired to throw your own summer bash.
The Acid Tests from Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (Picador Reprint, 2008)
“Everything in everybody’s life is…significant. And everybody is alert, watching for meanings.”
Journalist Tom Wolfe following a group of degenerate hippies searching for ‘truth’ through the use of LSD and other mind-altering drugs. Leading this band of “Merry Pranksters” is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author and counterculture icon Ken Kesey. They get on a bus and drive across the country. Throughout their travels they drink Kool-Aid laced with acid and throw insane parties while running into the likes of poet Allen Ginsburg, The Grateful Dead, and the motorcycle gang Hell’s Angels. If you’re into the path less trodden, these guys went totally off-road.
Bilbo Baggins’s 111th Birthday Party from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner Books Reissue, 2012)
“…they rather dreaded the after-dinner speech of their host…He was liable to drag in bits of what he called poetry; and sometimes, after a glass or two, would allude to the absurd adventures of his mysterious journey…”
Turning 111 years old is something to celebrate in itself, let alone if you’re a hobbit living in The Shire: the chillest place ever. In this early stage of Tolkien’s masterpiece, the guests drink way too much and eat enough to bring down an Oliphaunt. But it wouldn’t be a wild party if you didn’t include a pot-smoking wizard setting off magical fireworks. Even better, Bilbo, the hobbit of the hour, disappears during his own birthday toast! That is a legendary get-together. Can’t you just imagine one of the Proudfoots asking the next morning, “Now, did Mr. Baggins disappear, or did I have meself too much honey mead?”
Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Dover Publications, 2014)
“I knew who I was this morning but I’ve changed a few times since then.”
That old cliché, two is company but three’s a party. Maybe you’re thinking this is too low key and not nearly crazy enough. But let’s take a look at this scene. You have a little girl who’s fallen down a rabbit hole to come upon a large dinner table with a man having a conversation with a rabbit dressed in Victorian attire. And let’s get one thing straight, there is no way they’re drinking tea. I don’t know what’s steaming in that kettle but if it’ll get me to engage in philosophical discourse with well-dressed rabbits, count me in.
Satan’s Springtime Ball of the Full Moon from The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (Vintage, 1996)
“Don’t be afraid, Queen, the blood has long run down into the earth. And on the spot where it was spilled, grapevines are growing today.”
There’s nothing as metal as partying with Satan himself – and in this Russian classic, he goes all out. He expands a modest 1930’s Moscow apartment into a majestic ballroom filled with tropical forests, butterflies and birds of paradise. Champagne and severed heads are served up on platters, and notorious historical figures, like the Roman Emperor Caligula, are in attendance. It’s a pretty rancorous time, except that you should probably leave before clean-up, because all guests turn into powder as soon as dawn breaks.
The Generations-Long Flying Party from Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams (Del Rey Reprint, 1995)
“The longest and most destructive party ever held is now into its fourth generation and still no one shows any signs of leaving. Somebody did once look at his watch, but that was eleven years ago now, and there has been no follow up.”
Imagine a cocktail party so singularly awesome that it continues for literal generations – that’s where intergalactic hitchhiker Arthur Dent finds himself in Douglas Adams’s third installment of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Exotic aliens, evil robots and even the god of thunder, Thor, are among the guests at this floating interstellar mixer.
Jay Gatsby’s Saturday Night Parties from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner, 2004)
“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
The ultimate and most glamorous parties in all of literature, mysterious Gatsby’s Saturday night ragers are legendary. Full orchestras, chorus girls, endless (illegal) booze, and all manner of strange and exorbitantly rich people can be found in these Roaring 20’s bashes. As fantastic as these parties seem, they’re as loaded as they are shallow; Gatsby, of course, only hosts the parties to catch the attention of his long lost love Daisy, and all but two of his regular guests forget to attend his funeral. That may be a bummer, but Gatsby goes down in literary history as the definitive life of the party.