A Big Day for Florida & Music ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Two musical events occurred on this day in history — 8 years apart — that changed South Florida and music. 

In 1960 the teen comedy Where the Boys Are was released to theaters around the country. SPOILER ALERT: It’s the madcap story of 4 college girls who take a road trip to Fort Lauderdale on Spring Break for some sand, surf and sex.

Where the Boys Are made Fort Lauderdale an official destination for every footloose college student. Starting with the very next break in 1961, college students poured into Fort Lah De Dah. The media publicized it, creating new converts for the next year.

At first no one minded so much because the kids brought money. However, every year there were more Spring Breakers than the previous until, as TIME magazine told its readers in A Brief History of Spring Break:

By the free-loving ’70s, Fort Lauderdale’s fun and sun had become
decidedly raunchier. With gratuitous PDA and “balcony-diving” —
negotiating one’s way from balcony to balcony to get to other floors or
rooms, a practice typically performed in a drunken stupor and thus madly
dangerous — the norm, many communities began questioning why the heck
they had invited such unruly houseguests in the first place. By 1985,
some 370,000 students were descending on Fort Lauderdale (or fondly,
“Fort Liquordale”) annually — prompting yet another exploitative film, Spring Break
starring Tom Cruise and Shelley Long. But by the end of the ’80s, the
town had enough: stricter laws against public drinking were enacted and
Mayor Robert Dressler went so far as to go on ABC’s Good Morning America to tell students they were no longer welcome. As a result, spring
breakers were pushed even farther south, and to destinations outside the
U.S. where the sun was hotter and drinking ages lower.

By the time I moved to the Fort Lauderdale area in 2015, Spring Break was just a shadow of its former Bacchanalian self.

Where the Boys Are is a pretty good movie and has held up over the years. It’s a wonderfully kitchy throwback to a simpler time, but still explores some serious social issues about teens and their sexuality. It also hosts a wealth of good acting, including Paula Prentiss in her first movie; Yvette Mimieux, playing an innocent who has a downfall; and George Hamilton, playing George Hamilton, the role he was made for.

However, avoid 1984’s Where the Boys Are. It’s so bad it’s not even good.

Eight years after Where the Boys Are came the Miami Pop Festival, a 3-day extravaganza featuring a who’s who of the music scene, including (alphabetical list stolen from the WikiWackyWoo): The Amboy Dukes, Chuck Berry, Blues Image, The Box Tops, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Canned Heat, Wayne Cochran, Cosmic Drum, James Cotton Blues Band, Country Joe and the Fish, José Feliciano, Fish Ray, Flatt and Scruggs, Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye, The Grass Roots, Grateful Dead, Richie Havens, Ian & Sylvia, Iron Butterfly, Junior Junkanoos, Jr. Walker & The Allstars, The Charles Lloyd Quartet, Hugh Masekela, Joni Mitchell, Pacific Gas & Electric, Procol Harum, Terry Reid, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Steppenwolf, The Sweet Inspirations, Sweetwater, Joe Tex, Three Dog Night, and The Turtles. All for $7.00 per day!!!

The Miami Pop Festival was the first big festival on the east coast and was the precursor to Woodstock.

And, nothing was ever the same again.

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.