Spring Break History

Spring Break in Panama City Beach, FL!


Like so much in our world, Spring Break originated with the ancient Greeks. As winter would lessen its chill, and thoughts turned to regeneration, rejuvenation, and new birth, Athens's elders noticed that the young people became particularly frolicsome.

Socrates then proposed, and the Greeks adopted, a wild rite to welcome Spring and allow young people to vent their ingrained urges... and Spring Break was born. Immediately thereafter were heard the first complaints that these strange new rites were destructive of morals and caused undue hardship upon the local residents of the seaside towns in which the festivals were held.

Those making these complaints were quickly rounded up and stoned. A variation of this practice occurs to this day.

In the Middle Ages, after Christianity's triumph over paganism, it was determined that Spring Break should end. There followed many years of turmoil.

Every Spring it would take armed bands of monks and papal legates to stop young people from partying like it was 999.

Then, in 1237, St. Adledkopf proposed a solution- what if the Church co-opted Spring Break? Taking the uninhibited, riotous celebration that Spring Break had become, and turning it into something mannered and decent, alas, turned out to be a pipe-dream.

All attempts at substituting good fellowship and worship for drunken bonhomie and cheap thrills failed.

Other than Mardi Gras in New Orleans, America never really caught the Spring Break bug... until the First World War, when American Doughboys serving in France watched, wide-eyed with wonder, as the Europeans would temporarily halt Spring Offensives, and instead, party.

Miraculously, scantily clad women would appear over the trenches, dancing and prancing about like nymphs... unfortunately, it was discovered that many, if not most, of these "ladies" were in fact men. America's farm boys and day laborers were horrified, and therefore made the phrase "Show us your tits!" a Spring Break staple (which has since been adopted by Mardi Gras).

From 1929 to 1959 America was too busy with a Great Depression, another World War, and the reconstruction of much of the world to seriously party during Spring Break.

It wasn't until the 1960's became "the swinging Sixties" that America truly took to Spring Break. Baby Boomers flocked to the beach in Detroit steel, eager to forget the War, social progress, and exams... and get drunk and get laid. Spring Break was back!

Florida became the focus of Spring Break in the 1970's. Warm weather, beautiful beaches, and alcohol meant that somebody was going to get naked. Soon Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Panama City Beach were famous for drink and debauchery.

It was during this heyday that a particularly bad Spring Break ritual was begun. Locals called it "balcony diving." Drunk Spring Breakers would climb and swing from balcony to balcony on multi-storied hotel towers, looking for a party or a partner. Many fell to their deaths. Unfortunately, every year or two, some student finds the idea appealing and makes a terrible mistake.

Spring Break improved dramatically in the Eighties. In a decade that glorified over-consumption, a yearly event that reveled in sex, drugs and drink was a sure-fire hit.

More students than ever broke the bank, or their parents pocketbooks, and hustled a ride south. Moralists countered by offering planned activities- sporting events, dive trips, scavenger hunts, even church services. No one noticed.

Breakers in the Nineties eased up a bit on the over-indulgence, but just a bit. Superclubs, MTV, and corporate sponsors livened things up with concerts, shows, and give-aways.. but the Breaker's focus remained the same- get drunk and get laid.

The presence of so many television and video cameras during Spring Break meant two things... somebody was going to get naked, and somebody else would bitch about it.

A few nationally spotlighted cases, and Panama City Beach and Spring Break were savaged in the media. Savvy locals knew what that meant... even more Breakers next year!

And there you have it, the history of Spring Break. An honorable rite of ancient origin, one that you should proudly proclaim your part in, and whose traditions you should do your utmost to uphold.