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3.22.13 “Spring Break” … Never thought about who or when the term was coined …

“Spring Break” : Never thought about who or when the term was coined … Nice to know that my oldest cannot go on spring break anymore … that appears to be an unwritten rule of life!

 In 1958, Glendon Swarthout, an English professor at Michigan State University, overheard his students buzzing about their Easter-break trip to Fort Lauderdale. In that more-ecumenical era, students typically shuttled home to attend church services with their parents, but now word was spreading of another kind of spring break. Swarthout decided to tag along so that he could observe the rituals (pool-hopping, pith helmets, beatnik jazz) and capture the lingo (“beaucoup beers,” “schizoid,” “babyroo”). Upon his return, he dashed off a novel about coeds who cruise the beach and “play house” with boys from other colleges — a 1950s version of “Girls Gone Wild.” In a nod to the Easter season, he called his book “Unholy Spring,” but Hollywood executives persuaded him to change the title to “Where the Boys Are.” The result was a blockbuster book that was spun off into a movie — marketed with the phrase “spring vacation” — as well as a Connie Francis song.

“That was where life imitated art,” says John Laurie, a business consultant at the Kauffman Foundation, who wrote his dissertation on the history and economics of spring break. According to Laurie, after the movie came out in 1960, there were suddenly 50,000 (instead of 20,000) students going to Florida to experience the spring break they’d seen on-screen. By the mid-1980s, it was hundreds of thousands. MTV hosted its first concert at Daytona Beach in 1986, televising an orgy of beachside bikini contests, hair gel and smooth pecs. “MTV brought in major advertisers,” Laurie says. The network also created the idea that the party could happen in any location with bodacious tanning opportunities.

As a college student in the 1990s, Laurie became something of a connoisseur of the Easter blowouts: “My first spring break was at Daytona Beach,” he says. “My last one was Panama City Beach, Fla., which was then the spring-break capital of the world.” Even as he marveled at the town gone wild, he was gripped by its bittersweetness. “After college, you can’t go to spring break anymore. It’s no longer socially acceptable. When it’s done, it’s done, and — at least for you — it’s not coming back.”

via Who Made Spring Break? – NYTimes.com.


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