Russians: The Hardest Partiers on the Planet

Clear from your mind every thought of morality, legality, guilt, good manners, and common sense. Taking only your id into account, conjure an image of the ultimate party. There’s food, of course. Rich, decadent fare like steak, lobster, oysters, caviar, and all manner of sweets. Plenty of booze, too, no doubt: fine vodkas and whiskies, wine for the food, champagne for both drinking and spraying. All manner of other intoxicants too, if you like. No dealer’s going to sweat you, no cop will arrest you. Some smoke to let your thoughts soar, some sniffy to get you going? All good. There’s lively music, there’s dancing, and lord are there girls – and guys. They’re hot, they’re naked, and they can’t keep their hands off you, so feel free to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh. What else do you need? Hot tubs, saunas, bubbles? Done, done, and done. Here’s heaven on earth: you want it, you take it. Sound enticing? Well, you could keep on imagining it, or you could head on over to Moscow right now, hook up with the right crowd, and do this every night.

Nobody on the planet parties like the Russians. In the west, the ultimate release is to “party like rock stars.” Well, Keith Richards’ wildest night looks like a lazy Tuesday afternoon for some wealthy Muscovites, if this Washington Post article – and my own experiences – are any guide. The story is ostensibly about how Russian office parties are wilder than ever following a few lean years, but it’s not like they ever really slowed down, they were just a bit more cost-conscious. But now we’re back in the big time, where there’s really no such thing as over-the-top because the top hasn’t been found yet.

Strippers danced in glass boxes and fed guests cake. Boxers fought. One woman lay on a table, covered with fruit for guests to eat. Guests fed a caged tiger (borrowed from the circus) raw meat and a caged woman candy. Women who bared only their breasts looked positively modest.

“We were showing all the sins: lust, anger, gluttony,” Blyumenkrants said, declaring the party a great success. “Many of the guests left with the girls.”

Why is it that Russians are able to throw down better than anybody else in the world? Perhaps it can best be explained by the pendulum theory. For three quarters of a century (1917 – 1991) Russians lived under an oppressive regime that stifled creativity and forced collective labor, state-sponsored austerity, and really boring TV shows on the population. Sure, people got drunk, played accordions, and screwed, but outward displays of western-style decadence were not allowed. That created an incredible amount of pent-up demand for unbridled exuberance, which was finally released with the fall of the Soviet system, rise of the country’s oil wealth, and establishment of an easily-bribable thugocracy. And now, at least for the country’s elite, there are absolutely no limits to what you can do if you can afford it – as long as you don’t finance opposition candidates that the Kremlin doesn’t like. People are celebrating accordingly, with “feathers, masks and streamers – and, of course, legions of dancing women unencumbered by very much clothing.”

But it’s not just that. Most Russians I’ve met – and having lived in Riga and traveled through Moscow and St. Petersburg, I’ve met a few – have this innate belief that they can handle suffering and hardship better than anyone else. It’s not that they enjoy pain, but they do seem to revel in being able to sink to the bottom and still have a (dark) sense of humor about it. (Get a Russian man talking about his philosophy on hangovers for more clarity on this.) But when you’ve sunk so low, you feel like you’ve got license to fly high, and that’s what you’re seeing in holiday parties throughout the world’s biggest country.

Think about this: Sure there’s a church, but decades of state-sponsored atheism has all but negated its moral authority, so very few people spend their days in fear of God’s wrath. Political correctness not only doesn’t exist, but the idea of it is laughed at. In every office, the sexy girl is at the reception desk, while the homely lass is in the file room. Yes, there are laws, but every cop in the country except for one can be paid to look the other way no matter what you’re up to. And the Wu-Tang clan may have invented the concept of C.R.E.A.M., but the Russians perfected it over the past two decades. If you can pay for it, you can have it.

I offer no judgements here, and of course, plenty of Russians embrace the ideas of restraint and moderation. But if there’s a modern equivalent of a Roman orgy going on anywhere in the world right now, it’s happening in the Russian Federation. And don’t bother inviting me, because I’m not sure I could even handle it.

[Photographer unknown, but I saw it first on Reddit]

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