Screw the War, We're Partying
We can't fight now, we're down 4-2!
The heat is on in Saigon And things are not going well But still at midnight, the party goes on A good-bye party in hell
This is The Bible
quote in Isaiah 22:13
, "let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die", taken to the extreme.
Soldiers and civilians during war will try to have as much fun as they can during their downtime to block out the horrors of war, to escape the violence and recapture the feeling of peacetime. But then there are those who take it to a whole other level: the bombardier who turns up with a hangover, the stoned tank commander, aristocrats
trying to deny a war is even happening... This one's for the characters who party to keep their upper lip stiff and morale high and the others, on the dark side of the trope, trying to block out the reality of war altogether.
Glamorous Wartime Singer
often features. Unlike While Rome Burns
, this is for characters who are on the receiving end of war and can
be a positive way for characters to keep their sanity.
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Anime and Manga
- In the Skypeia arc of One Piece, the Straw Hat Pirates drop everything to celebrate their discovery that the city of gold is real and they know where to find it. Their "Pre-Bounty Bash" takes place on the first night of a war between God Eneru's forces and the native Shandians, which they spend the next day taking part in en route to the City.
- Played for maximum sadness in Saikano, in which the students beg the military to allow them to celebrate the school festival.
- The entirety of Axis Powers Hetalia applies; it's a giant cast of Nations as People constantly fighting each other and going through endless phases of war and revolution, but regardless, they spend most of their screentime screwing around (figuratively and literally). This is most noticeable in the series' main timeline of World War II.
- The first arc of Midnighter's series had him travel back in time to kill Hitler. Long story short, he arrives in Berlin shortly after Adolf is about to off himself as Red Army troops are closing in. Arriving at the guards' building, he finds them pissing drunk and getting it on with their girlfriends, one of them claim the staff officers are having a full blown orgy in the next building.
- Baron Soontir Fel, the best pilot in the Empire since Vader died, defected for a long and complicated list of reasons, including the fact that he and his command had been assigned to the utterly incompetent Admiral Lon Isoto. Isoto tried to make Fel cheat on his wife with a servant girl, had no grasp of tactics and no sense of what a victory was, and basically just threw orgies around. Fel knew that his command had been assigned there for the express purpose of being killed by the Rebels as part of one of Isard's schemes. With that in mind, he let his pilots attend and enjoy themselves, since it would be inhuman to deny them a last pleasure. Fortunately for them, Isoto's assassination at Isard's order meant that they didn't all get killed; if Fel hadn't gotten captured in that battle, he might have put off defecting a little longer.
- In ElfQuest, the night before the Wolfriders and the Go-Backs go into battle against Guttlekraw's trolls, a general orgy ensues among the elves.
- The comic Army @ Love is this trope. After a unsuccessful recruitment campaign, a division called Morale and Motivation markets the army as "Spring Break w/t Guns". Every platoon gets a state sponsored orgy as well as other perks, even if they're married. Hell, they start giving out medals to soldiers who 'deploy' in the middle of combat! Many military readers have found it deeply offensive.
- Lost Girls is set in an Austrian hotel in 1913. Alice, Wendy and Dorothy cocoon themselves inside the hotel with the other patrons, engaging in drug-fueled orgies as the outside world erupts into war.
- In DMZ, there is an area where both sides of the second US Civil War decide to say screw fighting, get together to party, then both sides return to their bases, lie in all their reports about what is going on, and keep their superiors clueless.
- In the Marvel Comics series The Nam the new guy is watching a movie when the Viet Cong launch a mortar attack. The new guy starts to go for cover but is stopped by his buddy, who assures him that they are safe since the enemy are watching the movie too, "Charlie don't get no R&R."
- In the IDW's Transformers comics, Blurr was a racer, one of the best, and had no interest in joining the war on either side and pretty much just said that he was gonna keep partying. However, that didn't happen and he joined the Autobots.
- Many of Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe comics feature the characters drinking, often in lieu of fighting.
- Nearly every character in Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow.
- Most of the lower-ranking soldiers in Catch-22.
- The good version in the X-Wing Series novels pops up more than once, with the Wraiths taking the time to raise their morale. Runt organized a dance in Iron Fist. Solo Command had the "rebellion of anonymity" on the Mon Remonda; for twenty-four hours, rank became meaningless when off duty and people did a lot of things, including playing sabbac with man-who-looks-like-Commander-Antilles and man-who-looks-like-General-Solo, but can't be, since Antilles and Solo both wore rank insignia, and these people didn't. There's mention of astromech races and the woman who looked like Rogue Squadron's chief mechanic winning a week's pay from the man who looked like Solo's second in command.
- The morale-boosting version pops up in Faith Of The Fallen, sixth book in the Sword of Truth series, where Kahlan arranges a wedding for Verna and Warren while they've got a brief break from their war with the Imperial Order. The wedding ends up being a double morale boost, as about half way through the festivities reinforcements show up, adding about 100,000 men to the army's ranks. Not that it helps a whole lot, considering the size of the army they're facing.
- Marshall Mannerheim's birthday in Väinö Linna's The Unknown Soldier.
- In the Dragonlance novel 'Dragons of Spring Dawning', the people of Kalaman celebrate their liberation by the Golden General, Laurana, by holding a day long celebration in her honor, even though the War of the Lance is still raging. The celebration leads to tragedy, since Laurana, who is already physically exhausted from all the battles she has recently fought in and in a bad emotional state over the apparent loss of her Love Interest Tanis Half-Elven to her Arch-Enemy, Kitiara Uth Matar, drinks heavily at the party and is not allowed to leave the celebration until she is dead on her feet. It is then with Laurana in this weakened, highly suggestible condition that she receives a false message from Kitiara about Tanis. The drunk, exhausted Laurana proves an easy mark for Kitiara's manipulation and ends up getting herself captured after blindly walking straight into a rather Obvious Trap.
- Merry and Pippin after the fall of Orthanc.
- In the Left Behind book Glorious Appearing, the people in Petra were like Screw The War, We're Praising The Lord when the Global Community Unity Army has them completely surrounded, totally outgunned, and ready to overrun the place. Somewhat justified in that God has made them nigh-invulnerable to enemy fire at that point...and also in that Jesus was going to come and turn the entire Global Community army into bird food!
- In Sven Hassel's books about the Legion of the Damned, there is invariably a scene where the nothing-to-lose penal soldiers throw a big party, usually doing something like taking over a brothel or a high-class hotel and defending it against all comers, be they German military police, civil authority, or in one extreme case a major Russian attack. Although they may have signed a local truce with the Russians and shared the girls and the booze.
- Jingo: Screw the war, we're playing football!
Live Action TV
- M*A*S*H again. The commonly invoked trope is the only way the staff has to keep themselves sane amid the pressures of war. However, the instant wounded arrive, the gang would instantly call off the hijinks and get to work.
- An episode of Foyle's War featured a hotel in the countryside where people lived trying to pretend the war wasn't happening. Not so much partying as "lalala! Can't hear the bombs going off!"
- Private Walker from Dad's Army who has avoided the WW2 draft due to a 'corned beef allergy' and spends his time in the home guard playing the black market and chasing women.
- When No Reservations went to Beirut they got caught there when Israel started bombing it in 2006. They filmed a scene that evening in a Beirut nightclub where the patrons were living out this trope, with suggestions that similar had happened during the prior war some years back.
- Implied and glimpses in Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined). As discipline aboard Galactica starts to break down, we occasionally see the pilots partying and boozing wildly in the pilot common room. Since the pilot roster consists of mixed sexes and Kat accuses Starbuck of sleeping around, they presumably get wilder than just boozing.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Empty Child," the Doctor stumbles into one of these, which quickly gets rerouted to the bomb shelter as another air raid starts.
- In the Torchwood episode "Captain Jack Harkness," Jack and Tosh get sent back in time to 1941 and end up in a dance hall during a German air raid. While the bombs do cause the party to temporarily relocate to the bomb shelter, the Glamorous Wartime Singer continues entertaining, and the party resumes upstairs once they get the all-clear. Most attendees treat it as a normal occurrence and no reason to stop having fun, but others are clearly having issues with the whole mortality thing and are using the party as a cover for their fears.
- In the Stargate Atlantis series opening, the heroes just pissed off the Wraith, a race who defeated the freakin' Ancients while they themselves are cut off from Earth and any sort of reinforcements. What do they do? Party with the Athosians, of course.
- This is pretty much the lifestyle of your average Klingon. On the eve of battle, sworn enemies often party together and part company saying, "May you die well!"
- The Supernatural episode "The End", soldiers are seen driving around the devastated ruins of a city in armored cars, bottles of whiskey balanced on the dash and classic rock blaring as they gun down a plague-infected mob. The whole thing exudes a "whole world's going to hell, no reason to not enjoy ourselves" feel.
- In China Beach, the characters were at an R&R base, so they often had dances, parties, concerts, and generally had a good time when they weren't too occupied with, ya know, killing Viet Cong or saving lives. This took a turn for the dark several times, as the war sometimes got in the way. Probably the worst incidents were the night that fun-loving lifeguard Boonie and two buddies went to a bar in Saigon and one guy who was going home the next day was killed by a Viet Cong agent with a grenade. Then, in a later season, they were all driving to a dance and a Jeep flipped, Boonie underneath. One of the doctors was forced to amputate Boonie's leg below the knee to save him from drowning as flood waters rose.
- This trope is invoked so often in McHale's Navy that one has to wonder if the sailors will ever get around to (intentionally) contributing to the war effort.
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine there was a 'screw the War, we're playing baseball' episode and a 'screw the War, we're fighting gangsters in the holosuite' episode. The Baseball Episode was an attempt to invoke this trope, as the station was playing host to a number of Federation ships and their crews who'd been rotated away from the frontline of the Dominion War and who badly needed to blow off some steam in a way that didn't involve BarBrawls or other unfortunate drunken shenanigans. The holodeck episode didn't really have an in-universe justification, but served as a badly-needed Breather Episode for the audience, coming as it did in the middle of the Darkest Hour of the show to date.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Faith sees this as a way to help the overloaded Potentials, and they chill at the Bronze. Later as everyone prepares for the final battle against the Ultimate Evil, they try to ease their tensions through such varied activities as having a wheelchair fight while looting a hospital for medical supplies, playing Dungeons & Dragons, or just having sex.
- Attempted by the protagonists of Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter during their brief reunion, but the party ends very quickly, as they cannot bring themselves to celebrate after the horror they have witnessed.
- True Blood's depiction of the Iraq war shows Andy Belfleur and his fellow Marines do exactly everything that one shouldn't do in war. They pull into town, seek out the local mosque, enter the mosque, and start doing drugs and drinking because the Iraq War was exactly like the Vietnam War. It's just one big party.
- In Game of Thrones, The first time we see Renly Baratheon in Season 2 is when he's presiding over a melee among his men (and Brienne). This is despite the fact that he has well over 100,000 men and horses (not to mention arms and supplies for all of them) on their way to King's Landing, making their snail's pace journey take even longer. Catelyn Stark makes a scathing backhanded comment towards Renly about it, due to the fact that her own son has been shedding blood in the Riverlands while Renly "plays at war".
- The Feast of Belshazar while Babylon is under siege by Persians at the end of Book Of Daniel, making this trope Older Than Feudalism
- Alternating partying and battles is a fairly accurate description of the Norse afterlife. If you were lucky enough to die in battle.
- For the most part, this is an accurate description of the life of Heracles.
- One of the Doctor Who Big Finish audios, Terror Firma is mostly based around this. Earth has been conquered by the Daleks, and the few remaining people in London spend their whole time partying while waiting for the inevitable extermination. Or, to be more precise, waiting for the uprising. Turns out the party is just a front
- In Cabaret, everyone tries to forget the Nazi invasion while having some entertainment at the Kit Kat Club. It's summed up in the lyrics of "Willkommen".
Leave you troubles outside!
So - life is disappointing? Forget it!
We have no troubles here! Here life is beautiful...
The girls are beautiful...
Even the orchestra is beautiful!
- Hope from Urinetown was conceived during one of these parties.
- In 1776, George Washington's "New Brunswick" dispatch details his soldiers' drunken, disorderly, whoring antics while camped in the New Jersey town. In addition to being Truth in Television, it leads to some of the funniest exchanges in the play.
- The main motif in Aleksis Kivi play Olviretki Schleusingenissa (Ale Tour in Schleusingen), whose milieu is set in the Prussian-Austrian war 1866. The main characters are Bavarian soldiers, who have joined the Austrian army for free beer. In the end the Bavarians get so blind drunk from ale that they are completely incapable to fight and are captured without a single shot. Nobody dies in the end. The play is said to be a parody of Carl von Clausewitz's On War.
- Super Robot Wars, particularly the Original Generation series often features the heroes having a large feast or party before the final push against the enemy. Notably, the pilots themselves do most of the cooking for it.
- In World of Warcraft in the Eversong Woods zone, blood elves are trying to hold back the rampaging undead from overrunning their city. Meanwhile, Lord Saltheril, is... holding a party, with guests giggling about going to watch the fighting later on. Needless to say, the elves doing the actual fighting are pissed at him.
- The guests - and Saltheril himself - are intensely creepy. There you are, a stone's throw from the front and even closer to the insane looters, and they're...giggling and partying like nothing's wrong. It serves as a very effective symbol of the blood elves' lifestyle, really.
- Not to mention the various holidays observed by the Horde and Alliance throughout the year. Both sides (for the most part) take some time off slaying each other and participate in the festivities. The cold war thaws slightly.
- It also has some basis in real life too. During the American Civil War during the first few battles, civilians on both sides were so excited about the action that they would have picnics on the hillside and watch the fighting.
- The culminating scenes of the romance arcs in Neverwinter Nights 2, Jade Empire and Mass Effect all occur on the eve of the final battle. Your Love Interest in Dragon Age: Origins will also invite you to bed on the eve of your confrontation with the Archdemon.
- Most Suikoden games have a "calm before the storm" night before the final battle. Your army is split between having some very personal moments, and in drunken revelry (sometimes both). Expect the backdrop to be this.
- At one point in Alan Wake, Alan and Barry stay in a cabin overnight, and can't leave because Dark Is Evil is to be taken literally. Barry finds some moonshine made by the owners, and they proceed to get very drunk.
- Dukov in Fallout 3. The post-apocalyptic ruins of Washington are the site of an epic Stalingrad-esque battle between the Brotherhood of Steel, super mutants and the Talon Company (later during the plot, the Enclave also throws their hat into the ring). And the retired Russian mercenary just sits in what once was a luxurious hotel, drinks to oblivion and boinks whores.
- In Mass Effect 3, when the whole galaxy is locked in a desperate war against the Reapers, you can find lots of military personnel living it up on the Citadel. Joker even lampshades it when you find him there.
- The Citadel DLC is essentially this. Oh sure, there's the fact someone is after Shepard and it turns out an Alliance officer had turned a clone of Shepard to her side but after the Collectors and Reapers the threat is not taken at all seriously, with the threat itself snarked through and the rest of the content about having fun. The shore leave is justified in-story by the Normandy needing some dry-dock time for repairs... and its crew desperately needing some time to relax and blow off steam from the war.
- In Warriors Orochi 3, in between battles, you can hold parties that increase the bonds between your current character and the other characters you unlocked.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, you can find Balamb Garden students (effectively paramilitary-in-training) eager to play Triple Triad during the Time Compression. The Time Compression is a staging ground for the Garden to launch the Final Battle at Ultimecia.
- Earlier on, you can ask the researcher Piet to play Triple Triad while panic is spreading like wildfire throughout the Space Station due to Ultimecia's intervention. He even lampshades your ridiculous request. However, the only window of opportunity to obtain Alexander card is either here or during the aforementioned Time Compression.
- At the end of Season 3 of ReBoot, as the system is crashing (an equivalent of a Planetary/Physical Annihilation for the digital characters), some of the Pirate and Mainframe Binomes get together, throw a rowdy party and get drunk off their asses. Meanwhile, other characters decide it's a good time to conclude their Romance Arcs and make out.
- This is pretty much exactly what happened at the fall of Singapore (and many other European colonies that were conquered by the Japanese). See the start of the movie Paradise Road and the series Tenko.
- While the Bolshevik Revolution was going on all throughout Russia, the nobles and high-ranking military officers were partying pretty much until the commoners stormed the Hermitage.
- In the US Navy, if a ship is at sea for more than 90 days at one time, each member of the crew is served two beers (it is otherwise illegal to consume alcohol while a ship is underway).
- By comparison, in the Royal Navy, the allotment is 2 cans a night, with the option to buy a third in lieu of the traditional grog. Additionally, laws banning sodomy (when they were in effect) made a specific exemption "after 90 days at sea." Hello, Sailor!!
- A lot of this happened as Berliners waited for the Russians to close in during WWII.
- Teenagers having sex in various quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) corners became a common feature. One middle-aged female diarist even described walking through the Tiergarten with a companion, with both of them trying to come up with a witty name for it that took into account all the nervous giggling and sighs of pleasure they heard...when she saw her fourteen year old son with a lady friend, walking in the other direction and adjusting their clothes. The comedy of the situation is made tragically grim when the motivation for all this randiness is taken into account: German girls wanted to lose their virginity in a consensual sexual act, rather than have their first experience of sex be rape by a drunken and probably violent Red Army soldier.
- It can also be considered a literal example of 'eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you may die' given the number of civilian casualties and the fact that most older teenagers boys and young men were either conscripted or pressed into paramilitary defense force.
- In the movie Downfall a mixed crowd of Wehrmacht and SS officers is seen partying in a Berlin posh hotel along with nurses and civilian women; the revelers are depicted possessed with all the frenzy of doomed people: the Red Army was already encroaching the city and many of the partygoers would have either died defending it or be subject to the Russians' vendetta for the atrocities inflicted against the USSR in 4 years of war. The episode is partly inspired by an actual event.
- In The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Shirer relates how, in the last days of WWII, the low-level staff in Hitler's bunker broke out the booze, put on records and started dancing after the senior staff had retired for the night. They apparently got so loud and raucous that Hitler himself called to request that they turn down the volume.
- As he was about to commit suicide, no less. They were ruining his big dramatic moment.
- The Happy Valley Set in Kenya during WWII. Made infamous by the murder of Josslyn Hay, Earl of Erroll and the subsequent trial and aquittal of Sir Jock Delves Broughton.
- The Duke and Duchess of Windsor during his term as Governor of the Bahamas during WWII. In particular, the Duchess was notorious for going on long shopping trips to her nearby native USA.
- The Hippie revolutions.
- A really bizarre example: The World War I Christmas Truce, in which the soldiers on both sides spontaneously took a day off from fighting.
- Some of the soldiers. Some of them took the chance to take a closer look at the enemy defences while they were at it. For others...well, there was only one way to find out if the enemy would disobey orders to shoot you if you offered a truce, and not everyone felt like disobeying.
- During the American Civil War, Confederate general George Pickett was off at a fish fry while his men fought the Battle of Five Forks. It didn't end well.
- In a more optimistic story, a platoon of Union soldiers were invited to a barnhouse party that was nominally being guarded by CSA troops. The only people who reported to care were the Union commanding officers.
- The original Olympic Games took this to the extreme: soldiers would drop their weapons and travel to Elis (the city-state in which the sanctuary of Olympia was situated) the moment the games were announced — it was not uncommon to shake hands with a guy who was trying to kill you a few weeks ago.
- The other Panhellenic Games were similar, although they weren't as holy/prestigious as the Olympic Games.
- Averted in World War I and II, as the Olympics were cancelled for both. The World Cup cancelled its games for the latter.
- According to an interview Robert Duvall did back in the 1990s this kind of thing happened frequently during the Vietnam War. He did extensive research about the U.S Military and had interviews with current and former service-men, what he learned was that the Air Cavalry division in particular, which his character Kilgore is a Colonel in, actually did do some of the things that they are portrayed doing in the movie Apocalypse Now. He recounted one story that he liked about how one time the Air Cavalry were under fire from the enemy but decided to catch a cow with a net and air-lift it with a helicopter simply so they could have it for a barbeque. Robert Duvall then mentioned that the depiction of soldiers getting high on drugs was accurate as well. All in all, Vietnam wasn't a war that a good majority of U.S. service-men took seriously.
- This trope captures a good part of the national character of the Lebanese people. In the early 1970s, when the Israeli Air Force was bombing the crap out of southern Lebanon and occasionally targeting Beirut itself to deal with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, nightclubs, bars, and coffeeshops (the teetotaling equivalent of the other two) still did a brisk business. During the incredibly bloody fifteen-year, three-sided civil war (1975-1990), the scene died down a bit (to say the least), but people still tried to make their own fun under the circumstances (one example can be seen in the film West Beirut). Since then, occasional violence has been a fact of life in Lebanon, but the Lebanese have continued, unfazed, to just make the best of it. The most poignant example is probably the period 2006-2010, when, starting with the Israeli invasion of the south and bombing of Beirut (again), people across the country all said, "eh, screw it, I'm going out;" despite a war between Israel and Hezbollah, armed clashes in the streets, terrorism arising from Palestinian refugee camps across the country, and the occasional assassination, Beirut and other Lebanese cities have seen a construction boom and a proliferation of all kinds of nightlife, and the country's wine and beer industries have seen a sudden uptick. They say that the nightclubs of Beirut were never so packed as in the third and fourth weeks of July 2006 (when Israel was running a bombing campaign against targets across Lebanon).
- The trope also captures the identity of the Colombian people. They are considered to be unusually charming, cheery and polite in spite of spending the greater part of the 20th century fighting each other and having rampant generalized violence. If there is actually a problem in Colombia is their tendency of not taking these problems seriously.
- Perhaps not for nothing is the most famous Colombian outside Colombia a certain Shakira, whose father was Lebanese-Colombian and whose name is Arabic.
- In Istanbul Intrigues by Barry M Rubin, the author describes high-class joints in neutral Istanbul during World War II where spies, diplomats, exiles, etc would go to party while they were taking a break from killing each-other, plotting against each-other, and generally doing unpleasant things to each other.
- Along the Gulf Coast in the US, ESPECIALLY Louisiana, people who can't or refuse to evacuate during a hurricane warning will throw hurricane parties.
- During Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Ivan, people along the panhandle of Florida were known to go right down to the beach to look at the large waves, only to come home and find out they were close to having gotten hit by tornadoes and/or waterspouts when they were out there.
- Every time there is a hurricane or a tropical storm passing through South Florida, every news station will absolutely make sure to let the viewer know every. freakin'. time. how little the people from Key West have prepared for the upcoming weather and how every bar is open and handing Pina Coladas and beer to everyone in the eve of the storm.
- It's quite common for residents of Tornado Alley to do all of this as well when a big tornado comes through. Are we sensing a Too Dumb to Live pattern here?
- Comedian Spike Milligan famously laughed and joked his way through WW2. He was part of a jazz quartet that formed when its four members were conscripted to the same artillery unit. Warned that if they dared waste shipping space by smuggling their instruments aboard the troop ship taking them to war in North Africa, they did so anyway. Despite dire threats of court-martial and having the instruments tossed overboard. A fortnight into the voyage, a shamefaced Naval officer who'd seen Milligan's band playing on shore made unofficial representation from the captain. If all possible charges were dropped, how much would it cost for Milligan's quartet to play on board ship for officers, diplomats and their wives travelling to form a civilian administration in occupied north Africa?
- Milligan was also pursued during the war by the Inland Revenue, chasing undeclared income from band gigs. Having received the letter threatening to jail him for non-payment of tax during a German offensive, with shells and bombs landing all around him, Milligan was not amused. He sent back a not-entirely-accurate resume of having made guest appearances worldwide, playing gigs like "The Retreat" for General Gort's BEF Rhythym Boys (Dunkirk, May 1940) "We Surrender" (Singapore, 1942), with an encore of "Nagasaki" at the request of General Tojo; and other unlikely band freelancing such as "Winter in Moscow" for General von Trimpernblitz, December 1941.
- Back on the home front, however much we may like to play up the Stiff Upper Lip angle in fiction nowadays, RAF fighter pilots were noted for being unruly boozers when they finally got some leave. Considering the stakes and the death-toll, you could hardly blame them.
- The Battle of Trenton during The American Revolution was won in large part because the Hessian mercenaries were hungover from Christmas Night partying.
- Other disasters can attract this as well; during the 14th and 15th century quite a few people essentially said "Screw the plague, we're partying." The Decameron uses one such party as its framing story.