These pictures show what was acceptable in the ’80s at Spring Break. But then, for that holiday, pretty much anything is acceptable.
You need to go back 50 more years, to the 1930s, in order to locate the origins of these bacchanalian revelries. In 1934, Colgate University’s male swimming team took themselves to Fort Lauderdale in order to practice their moves. By the 1950s, around 20,000 students were to be found on the beaches and in the bars each year.
The sea-change (if you will) came in 1960 with the publication of Glendon Swarthout’s novel, Where the Boys Are. The plot was as more complex and nuanced than you might imagine, and was made into a film the same year. Student numbers at Fort Lauderdale’s Spring Break immediately leapt to 50,000.
Which was nothing compared to the 250,000 to 350,000 who were ammassing at Fort Lauderdale by the time these pictures were taken. Such was the devastation that the local Florida government enacted new laws to restrict the level of partying.
Meanwhile, other beach locations like Daytona had been playing host to students looking for a quiet reprieve from the rigors of study.
By the close of the ’80s, only 20,000 Spring Breakers were to be found in Fort Lauderdale.