Since the dawn of humanity, our species has been assiduously researching ways to party hard. And every now and then, this impulse to rage like banshees unchained intersects seamlessly with our geekier proclivities. Behold six wonderful nerd soirées that were almost stranger than fiction.
In the mid-1960s, this Batman-themed nightclub (above) raged just outside of San Francisco. Sly and The Family Stone were house regulars and the whole joint was done up in pure DC Comics camp. As Life magazine said of this club in 1966:
The hottest place in the San Francisco suburb of Sunnyvale is Wayne Manor, named after Batman's straight self, Bruce Wayne. At the Manor, the Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin are painted in throbbing colors on the walls, and villains cackle in fluorescents. Behind a plate-glass screen girls dressed like Robin lead the crowd in the Batusi. Batman sells tickets at the front door, the maitre d' is the Joker, and drinks are served by Wonder Woman.
On the set of Predator 2 in the early 1990s, stunt performer, Sesame Street puppeteer, and hip-hop dancer Lionel Douglass choreographed a thrilling routine with other actors in Yautja costumes. In a better world, there'd be a nightclub named Sexual Tyrannosaurus where this genus of sensuous happens every night.
In January 1978, perhaps the greatest musical performance ever committed to the small screen aired. Note the superimposed graphics on the broadcast. I can't imagine the live performance was blessed with those, so the in-house audience was simply witnessing a master pugilist waxing weird on a stool.
Social events with the Muppets have always looked all sorts of awesome, but the Sesame Street wrap parties sounded particularly hilarious. As Sesame Street staff writer Annie Evans recalls of one year's party sketch:
Snuffy was replacing Big Bird who usually opened the show with a joke. Snuffy was so nervous, and got so frustrated because he was making mistakes, that when a child (the nephew of Frankie Biondo our cameraman) came up to get an autograph and called him the wrong name, Snuffy ate him. Literally.
[...The puppeteer] was able to put Snuffy's mouth down around the boy and once he was mostly inside, Marty could pick him up and hold him upside-down inside the costume. The boy was able to put his hands onto Marty's feet and then stay there as Snuffy walked off the stage. The boy was so good, he even succeeded in kicking his legs as he was "swallowed." As a person in the audience, I never laughed so hard in my life.
At the next season wrap party, Snuffy came on to start the show again, but he wasn't feeling well. He had a tummy ache for some strange reason. Suddenly, he started to heave, and he "threw-up" the same boy from last season, now wearing a tattered shirt and covered in goo.
After The Empire Strikes Back wrapped principal photography at England's Elstree Studios, the cast held a wrap party on August 31, 1979. But this wasn't any ordinary Tinseltown bacchanalia. No, the cast and crew reveled on the set of the compost planet Dagobah, mere feet away from Yoda's animal spoor igloo (via). Hopefully there was A.) more than rootleaf stew on the menu; and B.) a Yoda-puppet-bearing Frank Oz hollering lewd statements at passers-by.
Here's the invitation (via Star Wars Collectors Archive)...
And just for kicks, here's the invitation the 1982 Lucasfilm Christmas party. I like how at first glance it looks like a mundane yuletide celebration, but further investigation reveals one of Jabba's desert skiffs and the discreet presence of Huey Lewis and the News.
But perhaps our favorite weirdo gala took place on the New Year's Eve of 1854, when Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins — builder of London's Crystal Palace dinosaur sculptures — entertained guests inside a massive iguanodon model. Paleontology would later correct the dinosaur's anatomy, but Hawkins' hosting location remains absolutely unimpeachable. As Cabinet magazine recalled of this event:
The standing iguanodon had a fleeting moment of fame when Hawkins transformed it into the venue for a private dinner party for prominent naturalists of the day on New Year's Eve in 1853. He positioned the mold for the standing iguanodon sculpture beneath a striped tent, carefully removed the top layer to create an opening in its back, and inserted a dinner table complete with china, silver, and candles into the open space.
SEE ALSO: The Krull weddings, Salvador Dalí's unicorn party, and the many galas at the many H.R. Giger Bars, one of which became a Yakuza hangout. There were probably many a lampshade hat being passed around at the fifth Solvay Conference.