1. Lewis Carroll’s Mad Tea Party
On July 4, 1862, author and photographer Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and Reverend Canon Duckworth took Lorina Charlotte (LC), Alice, and Edith (Tillie) Liddell on a boat ride along the Thames River. As they floated through Oxford, Dodgson, who had a fear of growing old, began telling them fantastical stories of summer adventures in a place called Wonderland.
While Alice has many memorable adventures, her most recognized and meaningful scene happens with the Hatter, Hare, and Dormouse at a very mad tea party clearly inspired by this fateful boat trip. Even the Dormouse (Carroll) falling asleep repetitively at the table was indicative of Carroll's playful nature with the girls, as he would pretend to fall asleep mid-fairy tale.
2. The Dinner Where Frankenstein Was Born
In 1816, Mary Shelley spent most of her summer at the Villa Diodati in Switzerland amongst an eclectic group of friends. When their sunny weather turned into torrential downpours, companions Percy Bysshe Shelley (her stepsister), Lord Byron, and Dr. John Polidori (Byron's physician) read German ghost stories from Fantasmagoriana.
After some casual party chitchat and some alleged drug use, they challenged each other to write the scariest story they could. After a few days, Shelley produced her classic Frankenstein, the tale of mad science, love, and acceptance that shaped the very horror stories we know today.
3. Masquerade Moments
If it weren't for the masquerade party at the House de Capulet, William Shakespeare’s famous love story may have been a much less interesting tale of "Romeo and Rosalind." Romeo suffers from unrequited love, attempting to woo Rosalind with a scandalous appearance at his house's enemies' party in a concealing mask. Yet, when Romeo arrives, all is forgotten when he first lays eyes on Juliet, insisting they kiss immediately. From then on, they became the world's favorite pair of star-crossed lovers, all thanks to some wild family feuding and a great shindig.
4. The Parties That Made Atlantic City
Enoch Johnson, or Nucky Thompson, as he is known to HBO viewers, was the real-life king of the Atlantic City Boardwalk. When Prohibition struck in the ‘20s, Nucky openly operated the city as a safe destination for tourists to enjoy fast women, hard liquor, and gambling.
So when some of the world’s most infamous gangsters, like Capone, Charlie "Lucky" Luciano, and Albert Anastasia gathered in Atlantic City to figure out how to run the business, they called Nucky first. When the mobsters arrived, Nucky threw one of his signature lavish parties, in which fur capes were given as welcoming presents. He leased out a floor of the Ritz-Carlton, throwing party after party during which mobsters could conduct business without suspicion of local police, and putting Atlantic City on the map for years to come.
5. The Party Could Have Saved Sharon Tate
On the night of Aug. 8, 1969, the wife of Roman Polanski, actress Sharon Tate, declined an invitation to attend a party at a friend's house. Had she accepted the invitation and spent the night amongst friends at said party, she, her unborn child and three friends (Polanski was filming in London) may not have been brutally murdered by the Manson family.
They had instead opted for a simple meal at El Coyote. After they returned home from their quiet meal, Manson “family members” Susan Atkins, Charles “Tex” Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian sparked a bloodbath that would haunt Hollywood for years.
6. The "Highest" Formal Dinner Party
On an unsuspecting day in 2005, three men donning dinner formal wear hovered 24,262 feet in the air over Bath, England in a hot air balloon to enjoy a fine night of drink and dance.
Hosted by balloonist adventurer David Hempleman-Adams, attendees Lt. Commander Alan Veal and Bear Grylls dined at temperatures of minus-58 degrees Fahrenheit and risked contracting hypoxia, a life-threatening ailment in which the body is starved of oxygen in the high altitude. After dining on asparagus spears, poached salmon, and a terrine of summer fruits, served in special warm boxes on a formally set table, they saluted the queen and descended, managing to beat the previous record set in 2004 by Henry Shelford, who held a formal dinner 22,326 feet up a Tibetan mountain.
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7. The Dinner Party That Started 'Sesame Street'
For a posh Manhattan dinner, you probably think of strong cocktails, sexy dresses, and lots of food — not life-sized Jim Henson Muppets that teach kids the wonders of counting and the alphabet.
Unless, of course, you’re Carnegie Foundation executive Lloyd Morrisett, who at a 1966 dinner party at public television producer Joan Cooney's home claimed that his daughter loved TV so much that she would plop herself in front of the set and watch the early morning test patterns. After a lengthy discussion on how to make educational TV for kids, Cooney developed Sesame Street. This cultural landmark is still on the air and beloved, along with its cast of characters, some 40 years later by children around the world.
8. The Compromise of 1790
It’s the first of three agreements made between the Northern and Southern states to keep the Union together, made at a simple dinner party more than 200 years ago, permanently shaping how the U.S. is today.
After spending five years abroad as the American minister to France, Thomas Jefferson returned back to the U.S. as secretary of state in a politically turbulent time. Noting the growing fracture between the North and South, Jefferson knew something needed to be done fast, and invited then Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton, a longtime adversary, to join him for dinner on a warm evening in June 1790. Feigning ignorance to the states' debate, Jefferson also invited James Madison to dine with them. You could say the rest is history.
9. Dennis Kozlowski’s Wife’s Lavish $2 Million Birthday Celebration
There are plenty of tales where partygoers end up behind bars for outlandish behavior, but very few for lavish spending. CEO of Tyco International Ltd. Dennis Kozlowski hosted a $2 million, week-long party to celebrate his wife’s 40th birthday, using $1 million of embezzled company money to foot the bill.
The bash took place in Sardinia, where entertainer Jimmy Buffet and his entourage were reportedly flown in for $250,000, while the toga-wearing partygoers sipped vodka spewed from the penis of an ice sculpture of Michelangelo's David, and enjoyed a birthday cake shaped like a woman's breasts, complete with sparklers.
10. John F. Kennedy’s 45th Birthday Celebration
It’s one of the most storied dinner parties in history — the night when Marilyn Monroe sauntered her way to the microphone in front of a filled auditorium, shrugged off her fur wrap, and sang a sultry rendition of “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy. Clad in a sexy sequin dress, Monroe serenaded the president on the old Madison Square Garden grounds as a grandiose cake rolled out.
Nearly 15,000 were in attendance; however his wife Jackie was not. The president diplomatically took to the podium to thank her and sarcastically said, "I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.” While all of the late president's birthdays were extravagant, this particular celebration is also marked as one of Monroe's last public appearances. Shortly after, America's star passed away from an alleged drug overdose.