The last house party I threw in high school before I moved out was a complete shit show. At least I’m told it was a complete shit show. Hubris got the better of me and at 9pm, before most of the guests had even arrived, I accepted the challenge to drink five shots of cinnamon whiskey. I passed out almost immediately and woke up the next morning with a dick drawn on my forehead. With a pounding headache and severe cottonmouth I stumbled around the house surveying the damage. Broken glass. Tiles from off the roof. Chip bags and empties everywhere. But the worst thing? Somebody had smashed one of my parents deck chairs. Replacing the deck chair was going to be a pain in the ass, for sure, but the thing had sentimental value. My pops and I had put the thing together when I was a kid. It was one of my fondest memories with dad and now it was lying in a pile of the wood in the backyard. Somebody had drawn a dick on my forehead and somebody had tried to fuck up my childhood. I was pissed.
For the next two days, while trying to put the house back in order, I phoned everyone I knew at the party trying to figure out what kind of inconsiderate asshole would smash a chair. I made threats of violence and called a bunch of people names, determined to get retribution against the stuck up dickheads who disrespected my household. Finally, after calling maybe twenty people, I got an answer from Phil, the older brother of one of my friends.
“Dude, you smashed the chair. After the fireball shots you tried to sit but you fell down. You were so embarrassed that you picked it up and threw it. Repeatedly. The thing broke on like the third throw. You were partying hard!”
Remembering the chair incident made me wonder what is the hardest people have ever partied. So I chatted up a few people I thought might have good stories. You can read their answers below.
After playing our first shows in America, we were heading back to Toronto from Brooklyn. It’s the middle of a snowstorm. Things are taking forever. Along the way I was chatting on Twitter with a person I didn’t know, but I liked his name: John Sharkman . Apparently this guy is a friend of The Hold Steady and he wants us to come for beers when we get back to the city. I texted [Hold Steady frontman] Craig Finn to ask if getting drunk with Sharkman was a good idea. Craig described him as a philosophical Kenny Powers. He said it was a great idea, always leads to an adventure.
We meet Sharkman at around 11pm. He knows an open bar situation. Instantly we are like old friends. We drink enthusiastically. I love open bars because I hate restrictions, and apparently you can try a bit of everything when Sharkman takes you out.
The bar closes and we’re out on the streets. Eager to celebrate our blossoming friendship we start looking for a new place to drink. We head across the street to another spot. The bartender is locking up the door. He says he can’t let us in but asks if we’re looking to party. We are always looking to party. Bartender offers us a password and tells us to go to an unmarked door around the corner. Fuck yeah.
At this point we’re pretty fucked up but we manage to find the door under an ominous red light. We wave at a security camera and after awhile someone lets us in. We give the password and they take us to security. Then another level of security. Then a third. This all seems like a lot to get some after hour brews. When we finally get to the bar it looks like a Swayze-less Road House. Everyone was wearing leather. We can’t really make out what they’re doing but it seems shady as hell. But the weirdest part wasn’t the fetish gear. The weirdest part was the immaculate salad bar, complete with sneeze guard and a wide array of toppings, right in the middle of the floor. It was very professional.
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Sharkman tells us that he thinks this is a biker’s clubhouse. We were looking for afterhours beers, uninvited, at a biker’s clubhouse. Suddenly this Stone Cold Steve Austin looking guy grabs us and physically drags us out the door. Once we were outside, we decided it was best to head to Chinatown to enjoy a well-decorated lazy Susan before heading home at six in the morning. All in all, it was a great night. We almost got killed, but I guess that was par for the course when hanging with Sharkman.
Andrew W.K., Musician/Motivational Speaker
Seeking to define partying is somewhat of a losing effort. Because by its very nature [partying] is trying to liberate oneself from the need to have the mental comprehension of life—or celebration—in general. Instead you’re trying to have a more visceral and physical encounter with life. How would you define joy? How would you define the greatest feeling you ever felt? Words would begin to fail you. Even your mind couldn’t express the experience you’re going through. We run up to those limits of comprehension, the limits of logic, limits of rationality, when we start to dive deeper into these core questions. What does it mean to be alive? What’s happening to me? What is this thing called getting to be a person?
Really all partying is meant to do—in my opinion—is make those questions a joyful and uplifting experience. We’re getting to celebrate the fact that we have questions at all. We’re choosing to look at that as a type of undeniable good, even with lots of evidence seeming to indicate the opposite: that life is suffering. But we can choose to look at the type of suffering as a joy. A type of irrational, transcendent, positive experience. Because we’ve got to look at it somehow. Even deciding not to look at it in any definable form is part of that party mindset. Always be questioning, until you don’t feel like questioning anymore, and then don’t question!
Throughout all these different mindsets, all these different attitudes, all these different ways of looking at the world, of trying to live as a person as best you can...if all of it can be done with a dignified enthusiasm, a type of exuberance, a boisterousness, I think that’s what partying is. It’s a decision to have fun as much as possible even with the most unfun parts of life.
So in that regard I’d say the hardest I’ve ever partied was being born. That’s what kicked off this entire experience. I’m guessing it was the most painful and traumatic experience I’ve ever had. So much so that I blacked it out. My first ever blackout....maybe when you die that’s the next hardest time you party. We have a pre-party then an after party and I guess right now we’re in the meat of it.
Elizabeth Staples, Actress
My friend and I were wandering around in downtown Toronto when we ventured into Good For Her. Good for Her is like the loveliest boutique sex shop you could ever ask for. The saleslady gives us green tea and starts walking us through the most beautiful selection of vibrators. The vibrator I pick out was on the cheaper side (thirty dollars) but it was super cute. It was metallic and rose gold with a bunch of different settings. The thing looked like a lipstick. I was really into the idea of having a discreet vibrator I could have on my person at all times. I buy it. Perfect sex shop experience. Would recommend it to anyone.
Later that night we end up at Toronto institution Sneaky Dee’s. Sneaks is the type of place that will have punk rock tunes playing on the stereo but also have the hockey game on. A dive, but a great dive. Also despite being kind of a Mexican restaurant it is somehow very Canadian. Anyways, My friend and I met up with another friend who we hadn’t seen in awhile and we get a booth. There are pitchers. Nachos. More pitchers. At some point I get the idea that I need to show my friends the vibrator. I take it out of the packaging and show off the settings. Everyone is very impressed and then we get more beer.
Eventually things finish up and we all head home. My friend Jordan comes with me because she’s crashing. At home I go into my purse to look for the vibrator and...nope. I look through all my stuff. The vibrator is nowhere to be found. Jordan immediately is like: call the bar! Maybe you left it there! You have to call the bar!
So it’s 1:30 in the morning and I call the bar. The conversation starts awkwardly. I’m like, "Did someone leave a metallic rose gold vibrator in the second booth?" I am very specific. The waitress is really helpful. I felt like she was on my side. Waitress goes and looks for the vibrator but it’s not there. She says she’ll keep an eye out for it though. Jordan and I are really drunk so the lost vibrator is bumming us out. In our stupor we make the decision. We’re getting an Uber and we’re gonna find it ourselves.
A little after two and we get back to Sneaks. There is a couple sitting in our old booth. They say they’ve already been disturbed once but they’re game to help look for my missing vibrator. Jordan and the couple start scanning around and I stumble towards the bar. I look at the bartender and before I even say anything he asks, "Are you the one that called?" He was real judgy, so at that point we decided to run out of the bar, sadly vibratorless.
Robin Black, MMA Analyst
Putting together my one-man show I’ve been thinking a lot about old party stories. There was the time I tried to out drink Sumo wrestlers. There was the time I overdosed on trucker speed in England. My band used to have a glitter cannon. I’ve done a lot of stuff that was terrible for me that has also felt pretty great for a second. For example: Heroin is bad. I didn’t start out intending to do heroin, but sometimes things just kind of happen.
I was in California for this convention. LA is still a wild place to me—I mean, I grew up in a small town just outside of Winnipeg so of course—but when I was 20 it was a fucking dream world. I was way into music and this is where music was happening. Everybody looked amazing. Big Hair. Tight pants. Awesome. I was drinking at the Viper Room when this beautiful woman comes up to me. She’s like: hey, you look cool, my husband is putting together a band. You gotta meet him. Because that is how stuff happened in the eighties. No musical talent? No problem! You just need a good look and maybe a couple of cool moves. Then boom, you’re in a band.
So it turns out that this lady’s husband is Andy McCoy. That might not mean a lot to most people but to me it was everything. He was in a band called Hanoi Rocks, who are arguably the first glam rock group of all time. They’re a big deal in that scene. Right up there with Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses. I’m like, woah, I am definitely joining this band and I am definitely going to be super famous. Because I was twenty and I was an idiot.
So it takes a minute but eventually I find myself at this guy's place. I’m stoked that I’m going to sing for the band. I’m ready to get going but nothing is very...organized. Everybody is pretty slow. In retrospect this is because they were all smacked out of their minds, but at the time I thought that it was just a different pace on the west coast. Anyways, we smoke some pot and things get mellow. Then somebody asks me if I want to do dope. I’m trying to be cool, I really want this thing to work, but I also don’t want to shoot up. I’m thinking things over but there isn’t really a choice. Next thing I know somebody puts something in my arm and boom I’m on heroin. For four fucking days. During that time I don’t know if we played any music. I do know that towards the end of the four days I realized that I needed to catch a flight back home. And it was weird, because on one hand they were promising everything I could have ever wanted. But on the other hand you can’t really trust people who are on heroin. So I decided to go home and I was sick for like a full week afterwards. I heard the band figured their stuff out later, but they did it without me.
From June 2015 through October 2017, I DJed at The Steady—the now-defunct Miami-themed queer bar in Toronto—at least once a month. There were a lot of unforgettable nights, but the two that really stand out are the very first one and the very last.
I booked The Steady for my best friend Morgan’s bachelorette. I dressed as Morgan’s fiancé while another friend did a drag version of Morgan, throwing shade at the “imposter” in the audience. My boyfriend appeared as a volcano goddess named Mama Lava, flanked by a chorus of BoylesqueTO strippers wearing masks of the engaged couple’s faces. Another friend did a Cher medley complete with ass tattoos for “Turn Back Time” realness. The whole thing culminated in a Salute to Pizza featuring a full cast performing a large portion of Les Misérables (with lyrics adapted to focus on the agony and ecstasy of pizza itself).
After the show, I DJed a dance party which we told The Steady we would open to the public after 10. At 10 on the dot, the bar was instantly flooded with super fashionable lesbians. I’d made a Facebook event saying we’d be playing hip-hop and R&B by female artists only thinking my friends would dig it. Apparently everyone dug it! The rest of the night is a blur of hot queer makeouts and Morgan dancing to Missy Elliott while wearing a mask of her own face. That became the dance party Hey Girl Hey.
When they sold The Steady, Hey Girl Hey got the final Saturday night. It was a few days before Halloween. We were packed to the gills with X-Men, beasts, and Babadooks. There was a block-long lineup trying to charm their way past the bouncer. I began the night in a homemade recreation of Missy Elliott’s mirror-ball onesie from the “WTF” music video and ended it in a wig and my underwear. The epic drag show featured queen-in-residence Beardoncé staging a mock-suicide/lapdance that verged on qualifying as a live sex show. I still miss that weird little bar with its flamingo wall. So many beautiful people danced, laughed, made friends, and got laid. But, honey, did we ever send her off with a bang!
These responses have been edited for length/flow.
Graham Isador is on twitter @presgang.