Written By: Ben Cosgrove

“On the evening of May 20,” begins an article in the June 16, 1941, issue of LIFE magazine, “members of the Young Women’s Republican Club of Milford, Conn., explored the pleasures of tobacco, poker, the strip tease and such other masculine enjoyments as had frequently cost them the evening companionship of husbands, sons and brothers.”

Thus the storied weekly and photographer Nina Leen chronicled the shenanigans that erupted when a group of GOP women got together for an old-fashioned “smoker” (noun: an informal social gathering for men only) on one long, memorable night in southern New England.

Republican women in Connecticut enjoy a good old-fashioned bacchanal in 1941.

Republican women in Connecticut enjoyed a good old-fashioned bacchanal in 1941.

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Getty Images

LIFE made a point of noting that during poker Joan Thornwaite (left) "chewed her cigar fitfully" and "failed to get sick."

LIFE’s original story made a point of noting that during poker Joan Thornwaite (left) “chewed her cigar fitfully” and “failed to get sick.”

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The evening had the potential to get genuinely wild, with LIFE reporting that "spiked punch is dished out to the [night's performers] and local reporters." Alas, "no one got tight."

The evening had the potential to get genuinely wild, with LIFE reporting that “spiked punch is dished out to the [night’s performers] and local reporters.” Alas, “no one got tight.”

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Getty Images

Young Women's Republican Club of Milford, Conn., 1941.

Young Women’s Republican Club of Milford, Conn., 1941.

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Getty Images

Performers scheduled for later in the evening savor their corncob pipes in a dressing room. LIFE noted the corncobs would likely be a one-time enjoyment: "It wouldn't do in Milford."

Performers scheduled for later in the evening savored their corncob pipes in a dressing room. LIFE noted the corncobs would likely be a one-time enjoyment: “It wouldn’t do in Milford.”

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Getty Images

Perhaps the most provocative part of the evening involved that perennial staple (in myth, if not in fact) of male get-togethers: the strip tease. It began with "peeling inconsequential garments" after which the ladies reemerged "in kimonos."

Perhaps the most provocative part of the evening involved that perennial staple (in myth, if not in fact) of male get-togethers: the strip tease. It began with “peeling inconsequential garments” after which the ladies reemerged “in kimonos.”

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Getty Images

LIFE described the "Hefty Ballet" as "a choreographic burlesque devised by a local instructor." No explanation was given as to why the women imagined that men at a smoker customarily enjoy a bit of ballet with their booze, cigars and strippers.

LIFE described the “Hefty Ballet” as “a choreographic burlesque devised by a local instructor.” No explanation was given as to why the women imagined that men at a smoker customarily enjoyed a bit of ballet with their booze, cigars and strippers.

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Getty Images

LIFE deemed the tap dance executed by Miss Connie Mohr the "best act technically in show."

LIFE deemed the tap dance executed by Miss Connie Mohr the “best act technically in show.”

Nina Leen/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Between numbers, tap dancer Mohr gets a light from "elocutionist" Kathryn Keller. LIFE characterized the encounter thus: "Butt meets butt on backstage stairs."

Between numbers, tap dancer Mohr got a light from “elocutionist” Kathryn Keller. LIFE characterized the encounter thus: “Butt meets butt on backstage stairs.”

Nina Leen/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Before the women could stage a comic wrestling match, they had to get into costume -- an affair that included women stuffing themselves "full of muscles." LIFE urged readers not to overlook the "phony bush of pectoral hair."

Before the women could stage a comic wrestling match, they had to get into costume— an affair that included women stuffing themselves “full of muscles.”

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Getty Images

Properly attired for their wrestling match, it is time to begin. This photograph captures the moment that the "[g]rapplers come to grips."

Properly attired for their wrestling match, it was time to begin. This photograph captured the moment that the “[g]rapplers come to grips.”

Nina Leen/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

LIFE on the battle: "Huffing and puffing, they punish the mat." Joan Thornwaite (back to camera) "won by tickling in five minutes." Note: Her opponent's mustache is attached to her face with chewing gum.

LIFE on the battle: “Huffing and puffing, they punish the mat.” Joan Thornwaite (back to camera) “won by tickling in five minutes.” Note: Her opponent’s mustache was attached to her face with chewing gum.

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Getty Images

One man was allowed to attend the smoker; you can see him here on the floor, with both women standing on him as they "beat their chests in triumph."

One man was allowed to attend the smoker; women stood on him as they “beat their chests in triumph.”

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Getty Images

As the game went into the night, the ash trays overflowed and the air got positively "blue." Reasoning that "if men can take it, so can we," the women continued.

As the game went into the night, the ash trays overflowed and the air got positively “blue.” Reasoning that “if men can take it, so can we,” the women continued.

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Getty Images

Dawn found the hall filled only with litter: "Porters agreed they hadn't seen so many butts since [the] State Firemen's Convention in 1938." And where were the men? LIFE reports they were "flabbergasted" by the smoker and many "spent the evening playing bingo with abstainers and Democrats at another hall nearby."

Dawn found the hall filled only with litter: “Porters agreed they hadn’t seen so many butts since [the] State Firemen’s Convention in 1938.” And where were the men? LIFE reported they were “flabbergasted” by the smoker and many “spent the evening playing bingo with abstainers and Democrats at another hall nearby.”

Nina Leen/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

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