There’s no denying that Chicago knows how to party, but a quick look back through the history books proves that our predecessors were the ultimate revelers. Back in 1896 Chicago began hosting the First Ward Ball, a celebration that “attracted a wild mix of society thrill seekers, police captains, politicians, prostitutes and gamblers,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Throughout the years, the party only got wilder and drunker, and in 1908 it was reported that guests “slopped up 10,000 quarts of champagne and 30,000 quarts of beer.” Of course, an affair this good couldn’t last forever. On Friday, February 16 from 7:30 to 11pm, the storytellers at Atlas Obscura will bring the spirit of the party back to life with an evening of performances, historians, casino games and craft cocktails.
The historical soiree will be hosted at Row 24, an event space in the South Loop, and tickets are going for $55–$65 ($75 at the door). With capacity for 200 guests, expect the party to be somewhat intimate and incredibly engaging. Revelers are invited to come dressed in turn-of-the-century attire to fully immerse themselves in the experience. Chicago vice historians will be on hand to discuss the First Ward Ball and its legendary attendees, but this isn’t a dry history lesson. The evening will be punctuated by performances by local burlesque acts, musicians, drag queens and historical impersonators. Attendees will also be able to enjoy a piece of technology our ancestors wish they had when a cocktail-shooting robot makes an appearance at the event. Here’s hoping the evening sparks some interest in the city’s lost passion for guzzling champagne and raising hell.