Hi my name is Haroldo from Chile.

I was listening some Mozart music and suddenly I start thinking about parties in the past.

How did people party in 1700s, 1800s?

Thank you!



Haroldo Vivallo




Dear Haroldo,

“Partying,” whether ceremonial or casual, has probably been fundamentally the same since herding, farming and cooking gave human beings leisure time in which to imagine excuses to have a social gathering. Harvest festivals were a natural, and the discovery of intoxicants like wine and beer (models of breweries have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs) probably livened things up. The only variance was in the customs of time and place (human sacrifice is not as popular as it used to be). Music and dancing was certainly different—in Paris during the late 1700s the waltz was considered crude and vulgar, but it was the epitome of elegance in mid-1800s Vienna—especially compared to the Charleston in 1920s Chicago or the Twist in mid-1960s Detroit. But that is just the Western world—human partying has more variations on the same “fun” theme when you add, say, a Hawaiian luau or a formalized Japanese tea ceremony. The one thing they all held in common was the need for live music (no party in Frederick the Great’s court in Potsdam was complete without a jam session by his private orchestra, including C.P.E. Bach on keyboards and the King of Prussia himself conducting and providing flute solos) until the 20th century introduction of electronic recording equipment.



Jon Guttman

Research Director

World History


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