Spring Break in the 1980s

Keith McManus ‘Rite of Passage’: A look at the depravity of Spring Break in Florida in the 1980s

In an interview with his former intern on NPR Keith McManus had some interesting insight into one of America’s greatest traditions; Spring Break. An alien concept to us over the pond ‘Spring Break’ is one of the great traditions of students in America and the holy grail location of such a party is and will always be; Florida.

The traditional Spring Break is an entirely American tradition, a purge of pure hedonism before returning to student life. A tradition which has alcohol, music, sex and vigour at its core. “We really didn’t have many of those in our culture now, in modern America,” says Keith McManus. “One of the things people might consider a rite of passage was this spring break thing. It’s not very profound as an activity, but… if that’s what you got, that’s what you do,” he aded.

But it’s far more than that. In his collection Rite of Passage, McManus captures the fervour and ferocity of a bustling youth moment during one of the most decadent decades—the “me, me, me” 1980s. It’s a time capsule piece and works as a flash of the hyper-sexualised and electric scene McManus found himself surrounded by in Florida during Spring Break. Or to use its colloquial name “SPRING BREAK!”

Take a look below at the striking images

south beach miami spring break 1980s
south beach miami spring break 1980s 9
south beach miami spring break 1980s 99
south beach miami spring break 1985
daytona miami pring break 1980s
cocoa beach spring break
miami beach spring break ass
bikini contest cocoa beach 1980s
South Beach
south beach miami spring break 1980s 1
A group of boys check out a group of girls at the beach in Daytona Beach, Fla. in 1987.
south beach miami spring break 1980s
At a seaside temporary jail set up by Daytona police. Drinking on the beach is illegal and well policed in Daytona Beach, Fla. in 1987. (W. Keith McManus)
south beach miami spring break 1980s1
south beach miami spring break 1980s 3

(All images © Keith McManus via Culture Trip)

Subscribe to our newsletter
Delivering curated content