Spring break season is here and Playboy is celebrating with our Spring Break 2014 series. The actual dates of the break vary from college to college—anywhere from March to early April—but no matter where it is on your schedule, Playboy.com’s spring break guide guarantees you’ll have the wildest, most memorable spring break of your life. Join us today as we take you through the surprising history of spring break and give you our list of Dos and Don’ts.
Spring break began innocently enough as a time for students to visit with family and study for the end of term. The turn from modest to decadent began in the mid-1930s, when the coach of New York’s Colgate University swim team worried that his crew might get out of shape during break. One of the students’ fathers lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and he suggested the team head south to train in the city’s new pool. The banging climate (Fort Lauderdale’s year-round temperature averages 77 degrees and there’s an annual 3,000 hours of sunshine) and the beaches appealed to the swim team. When school started again, they spread word of Fort Lauderdale as a vacation paradise conducive to partying. The spring breaks of the following years saw more and more students from around the country descending to burn off academic stress in the Florida heat.
The spring escape to Fort Lauderdale, and the whole meme of a hedonistic week in the sun, got a boost with the 1960 film Where the Boys Are, a coming-of-age movie set in Fort Lauderdale over spring break. The year after the movie came out, the annual horde of student partiers jumped from 20,000 to 50,000. The seasonal student migration brought a lot of money into Fort Lauderdale, and other seaside Florida towns, like Daytona Beach, took notice and started advertising themselves as spring break destinations, too.
The larger crowds and the changing social mores made for rowdier spring breaks, and it turns out there’s only so much urinating in the streets, screwing in the sand and partying on the beach some communities can take. At its height in the 1980s, “Fort Liquordale” attracted up to 370,000 breakers, but many residents tired of the party chaos. In 1986, Fort Lauderdale started cracking down on breakers by raising the drinking age and passing stricter open container laws. A wave of redevelopment was initiated to discourage students and bring in older tourists and families: to curb cruising and drag races, streets were reconfigured; high-end hotels and restaurants replaced cheap beachside crash pad motels and fast food joints; and the city built a wall separating the beach from the road, restricting access to the water. The tactics worked and for decades the springs have been quieter in Fort Lauderdale with only 10,000 to 15,000 students showing up in March and April.
Florida’s still in the spring break game even if the parties have shifted to other beachside towns: Panama City Beach is expecting half a million breakers this season, making it the single most attended spring break destination in the world. But the Sunshine State is far from the be-all and end-all for spring break good times. Lake Havasu City, Arizona and South Padre Island, Texas are huge draws for breakers, as are a number of international locations. With lower drinking ages, lush scenery, tropical climates and a more relaxed attitude to the hijinks of students in pursuit of a good time, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Bahamas are huge draws. In fact, in 1988, Cancún, Mexico was mostly leveled by a hurricane and was rebuilt specifically as a spring break hot spot—now Cancún sees more than 30,000 breakers every year.
No matter where you go and what you do, we’ve assembled this handy list of Dos and Don’ts to maximize your Spring Break 2014 experience.DO: Snap those selfies and document your adventures on social media. You’re young, you’re good-looking and you’re living it up. Let the world know. Plus you’ll have something to remember your week with. Go ahead and make your ex jealous—tweet that picture of you and the hottie in the bikini making out on the beach.
DON'T:Take photos of yourself doing something stupid and/or illegal. If, for some reason, you wake up the next morning and find pics of you doing something that’ll get you dumped, expelled or arrested, delete them off your phone and make sure they never reach Instagram.
DO: Travel with a crew. Get your entourage and rule spring break together. With a package or a you can save some money on travel, plus you have people you trust to watch your back.
DON'T: Stay in your bro bubble. Put yourself out there and meet some of the thousands of wild revelers you’re surrounded by. It can lead to some crazy adventures, new friends and maybe a few women’s phone numbers.
DO: Experience it all: the foam parties, the mud wrestling, the keg stands, the open bar, the skinny-dipping, the dancing all night. Even if that’s not you, even if you’d usually never do Jell-O shooters off a girl’s back while she’s wrestling with another mostly naked chick in pudding…do it. Say yes to life for one week.
DON'T: Break yourself. You don’t want to blow all of your party energy on day one of seven. Grab a nap when the hotel room is empty or at noon on the beach. Stay hydrated and balance the beer you’re drinking with water. Have at least one meal that’s not deep-fried.
DO: Pack extra condoms. Keep a few on you. Better safe than herpes.
DON'T: Have sex in the hot tub. You don’t know what’s already happened there and you’re risking infections or irritation in your sensitive places from the heat and chlorine.
DO: If you journey to an exotic locale like Mexico or the Dominican Republic, take a day and see the sights. Go zip-lining, take a hike in nature. If you go to Cancún, shake off the hangover and spend one afternoon at the Mayan ruins.
DON'T: Do the same thing every night. A great time at one club doesn’t mean you should return night after night. Scope out the scene and head to different parties and venues every night.
DO: Consider your safety and do some planning before you go. Find out some basics about where you’re going; look at some maps and read reviews and advice online. If your buds partied there last year, ask them for the lowdown. If you’re going out of the country, check the travel warnings from the U.S. Government.
DON'T: Get scammed. Beware of bogus travel sites and crooked travel agencies preying on students. Some will take your money and deliver a lousy trip nothing like they advertised. Some will just take your cash and give you nothing. When booking your trip, research the website or agency you’re using. If a deal seems too cheap while offering five-star hotels, gourmet meals and premium airfare, be suspicious. Book using a credit card and the credit card company will reverse any fraudulent charges.
DO: Be a gentleman. You can let loose and still be considerate of those around you. Tip the bartenders and staff and treat them courteously. Know your limits with alcohol so your friends don’t have to take care of you or clean you up. Be civilized around women and you’ll stand out from the crowd. For example, on Reddit, one frat brother gave out this piece of advice from his spring break in Panama City Beach: “Help that girl even if you don't know her. I got laid more than once by the [sorority] sister of the puking/passed out girl for helping her out.”
DON'T: Be a sleazebag. ’Nuff said.
Spring break won’t last forever, but we’re keeping the party going here on Playboy.com, so check back next week as we give our picks for where to go for Spring Break 2014.