How 'Where The Boys Are' Created Spring Break As We Know It

By | October 2, 2018

test article image
Left: Dolores Hart, Yvette Mimieux, and Connie Francis in a publicity still for 'Where The Boys Are' (1960). Right: Hart and George Hamilton. Source: eBay

Where The Boys Are, a 1960 book by Glendon Swarthout that became a hit movie starring Connie Francis, Dolores Hart, Yvette Mimieux, and Paula Prentiss, changed the American college experience. Prior to 1960, few college students used their week off from school in the springtime, typically around Easter, to travel to warm, sunny beaches to party. But Swarthout's groundbreaking novel planted the seed, and the quickie movie rushed out in the same year, a low-budget blockbuster, sealed the deal. Suddenly, college kids across the country knew exactly what they wanted to do on their spring break. 

Swarthout’s book tells the story of a group of young college girls who go to Florida for spring break to experiment with sex and alcohol. It sparked a Spring Break craze and made Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the place to be. With his novel, Swarthout inspired college students to use Spring Break as a rite of passage, explored the changing face of sexual attitudes among college students, depicted women as in control of their sexuality, and led to a blockbuster movie and hit song.

Glendon Swarthout Was a College English Teacher

test article image
Novelist Glendon Swarthout

As a college level English teacher, Glendon Swarthout of Michigan had an inside look at the lives of college students at the start of the sixties. He noted that the times were changing, and those young college students, male and female, had adopted a looser, freer attitude about sex and dating. He chose, as his lead characters for Where the Boys Are, four young women from the Midwest and followed them as they travel to the beaches of Fort Lauderdale, looking for sex and romance. In fact, one of his characters, the foursome’s leader, Merritt, is clear in her belief that all women should experience premarital sex, a revolutionary idea for 1960.