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. Here, the women play poker and smoke.

Republican Women Party Hard: 1941 Edition

Poker, cigars, and wrestling: Just another night out on the Connecticut shore.

 
On a May evening in 1941, LIFE photographer Nina Leen documented the shenanigans at a "smoker" (ordinarily a social gathering for men only) organized by members of the Young Women's Republican Club of Milford, Connecticut. By the looks of things, a good time was had by all.

The women of the GOP, LIFE informed its readers, partook of "tobacco, poker, the strip tease and other masculine enjoyments as had frequently cost them the evening companionship of husbands, sons and brothers." (Pictured: Sampling the pleasures of the corn cob pipe.) Nina Leen The women of the GOP, LIFE informed its readers, partook of "tobacco, poker, the strip tease and other masculine enjoyments as had frequently cost them the evening companionship of husbands, sons and brothers." (Pictured: Sampling the pleasures of the corn cob pipe.) Joan Thornwaite (left) plays poker and expertly chews a cigar. And the Republican men of Milford? LIFE reported that they "spent the evening playing bingo with abstainers and Democrats at another hall nearby." Nina Leen Joan Thornwaite (left) plays poker and expertly chews a cigar. And the Republican men of Milford? LIFE reported that they "spent the evening playing bingo with abstainers and Democrats at another hall nearby." Spiked punch is served to the evening's performers and local reporters during the Young Women's Republican Club's 1941 "smoker." LIFE dutifully reported that over the course of the evening, "no one got tight." Nina Leen Spiked punch is served to the evening's performers and local reporters during the Young Women's Republican Club's 1941 "smoker." LIFE dutifully reported that over the course of the evening, "no one got tight." Miss Connie Mohr , who ran a children's dance class in Milford at the time, executes a decidedly grown-up tap dance for her friends and neighbors. Nina Leen Miss Connie Mohr , who ran a children's dance class in Milford at the time, executes a decidedly grown-up tap dance for her friends and neighbors. "Butt meets butt on backstage stairs," LIFE wrote of this encounter. Between numbers, dancer Mohr gets a light from "elocutionist" Kathryn Keller. (It's unclear what Keller did to deserve that title.) Nina Leen "Butt meets butt on backstage stairs," LIFE wrote of this encounter. Between numbers, dancer Mohr gets a light from "elocutionist" Kathryn Keller. (It's unclear what Keller did to deserve that title.) The audience enjoys what appears to be some comedic ballet during the Young Women's Republican Club's May 1941 "smoker." Nina Leen The audience enjoys what appears to be some comedic ballet during the Young Women's Republican Club's May 1941 "smoker." Members of the Young Women's Republican Club smoke and play cards, Milford, Conn., May 20, 1941. As the game went into the night, LIFE reported, the ash trays overflowed and the air got positively "blue." Nina Leen Members of the Young Women's Republican Club smoke and play cards, Milford, Conn., May 20, 1941. As the game went into the night, LIFE reported, the ash trays overflowed and the air got positively "blue." Preparing for a wrestling match, a woman stuffs herself full of "muscles." LIFE did not miss the opportunity to point out to its readers the "phony bush of pectoral hair" peeking from the union suit. Nina Leen Preparing for a wrestling match, a woman stuffs herself full of "muscles." LIFE did not miss the opportunity to point out to its readers the "phony bush of pectoral hair" peeking from the union suit. To the delight of the crowd, the wrestlers "come to grips." According to LIFE, Joan Thornwaite (back to camera) "won by tickling in five minutes." Her opponent's "handsome mustache" was attached with chewing gum. Nina Leen To the delight of the crowd, the wrestlers "come to grips." According to LIFE, Joan Thornwaite (back to camera) "won by tickling in five minutes." Her opponent's "handsome mustache" was attached with chewing gum. Beating their chests in triumph, the wrestlers rest their feet atop the only man allowed into the smoker: the referee. "As soon as wrestling ended," LIFE noted, "the ladies tossed him out." Nina Leen Beating their chests in triumph, the wrestlers rest their feet atop the only man allowed into the smoker: the referee. "As soon as wrestling ended," LIFE noted, "the ladies tossed him out." "Bleak dawn breaks over ladies' litter left in hall," LIFE wrote of the scene after the smoker ended. "Porters agreed they hadn't seen so many butts since the State Firemen's Convention in 1938." Nina Leen "Bleak dawn breaks over ladies' litter left in hall," LIFE wrote of the scene after the smoker ended. "Porters agreed they hadn't seen so many butts since the State Firemen's Convention in 1938."