Spring Break Is Still Decadent and Depraved — and Awesome, Dude!

Try as it might, Fort Lauderdale can't shake some diehard seasonal partiers

An early cross-promotion, the film gave pop star Connie Francis her first movie role, as Angie, the hockey-playing big girl who manages to snag a guy with very thick glasses (see, she's chubby, so only a blind guy would like her; get it?). She also sang the title tune, and at one point, halfway through the movie, she burst into another song, "Turn on the Sunshine," without any explanation at all.

The more recent, more ridiculous Nerds in Paradise captured the next generation in spring break's evolution. The film opens with a throaty narrator saying the nerds are going to a fraternity conference in "legendary Fort Lauderdale." The voiceover sets the scene: "It is a time for fraternity leaders to discuss the philosophy of brotherhood, to set guidelines for their organizations... and get laid." Nerds also has a helicopter shot of the beach, this time to the tune of 38 Special's "Take Me Back to Paradise." Characters become more rudimentary; instead of the tan, suave, son-of-a-millionaire Ivy Leaguer played by George Hamilton in Where the Boys Are, the men in Nerds have names like Booger and Ogre. The Alpha Betas chug brews, crush cans on their heads, fondle hot Pis and try to rid themselves of the party-crashing nerds. The nerds find the wet T-shirt contest, outsmart the apish Alpha Betas, and do indeed get laid. The formula is simple: Kid is excited about time off from school spent in paradise, kid gets bummed when he learns paradise isn't what he had hoped, kid makes the best of it and has a kickass time anyway (and often scores with the unattainable beauty), kid's life is better for the experience. Of course, it doesn't take into account the reality of liver damage, public intoxication arrests, or gonorrhea, but those things are seldom fun to watch in a movie.


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Kacey drove 16 hours from the University of Kentucky to get blotto on the beach.
C. Stiles
Kacey drove 16 hours from the University of Kentucky to get blotto on the beach.

Paris was ready for nine days of nonstop boozing under the Florida sun. He left Indiana on the Thursday before spring break and drove for 18 hours straight. Classes are generally cancelled on the Friday before vacation, and he didn't want to miss a day in paradise. A 21-year-old Indiana University student, about six feet tall and round, he was on his second consecutive spring break in Fort Lauderdale. This time he brought roomfuls of his Beta Theta Pi brothers and friends from another fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega.

"This is probably the main place Indiana people looking to party go for spring break," he said. "It's just always been that way. Nobody ever told us they cancelled spring break."

On Tuesday morning, Paris was one of the only spring breakers awake at the Premiere. He wore red board shorts, a white shirt, and a red ball cap with the words "INDIANA UNIVERSITY DIVING" embroidered in white. With a black marker, Paris had added the word "MUFF" before "DIVING."

He tip-toed to a door and listened: silence. It was just before 10 a.m. He pounded with both fists. It sounded like a hurricane. He shouted "Wake up! Get up! Time to get up, people! It's Power Hour time!" He went to the next door and repeated his thunderous greeting.

A few doors opened. The rooms were filled with golden light that poured over crooked pictures on the walls, clothes tossed on the tile floors, and half-empty bottles on nightstands. The morning light brought groans from the young men and women, some of whom were still drunk from the night before.

They gathered at Paris' room and assembled shot glasses, one for each participant. They opened cans of Natural Light, checked the time, and began Power Hour. The game: Everyone takes a shot of beer every minute for 60 minutes. That's six to 10 beers in an hour. This is not to be confused with Century Club, which is 100 shots of beer in 100 minutes. "Century Club would just be stupid," one spring breaker pointed out. "We've got all day to get that trashed."

After a day of tossing a football on the beach, Paris returned to his room. "This is like Miami on the cheap," he said. "Panama is trashy and they have a lot of high schoolers there. Cancun is fucking stupid. Fort Lauderdale is like the cool, classy way to come out and get tore up. And for Indiana people, this is just a warm-up. We have the biggest party school in the nation."

His buddies began to reappear at the hotel, Jeff and Jared and Dana and Haley. Paris pointed at Dana. "This is her — this is Dana from Indiana. You should see her suck some dick."

Dana laughed.

Brett walked over with his shirt off. He was a muscular young man, like an Abercrombie model, with a farm-boy smile. "This is paradise," he said. "This place is a single-man's paradise and I fucking love it. From the first fucking hour here." He began the story of his arrival in Fort Lauderdale. Unlike Paris, Brett flew in.

"I did spring break the right way," Paris inserted, "kicking it off with a road trip."

"It was like 500 bucks for the flight and hotel, total," Brett said. "So I show up, I put my bag down in my room and step into a friend's room to say hi. I guess I said something offensive or something to this one girl, and she started acting all upset. I go up to her and kiss her on the forehead, and I was like, 'Does that make up for it?'"

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