Shakespeare had it righ when he said, “Beware the ides of March.”

For Yale students, today marks the ceremonious start of a long-awaited and well-deserved spring break. While some are remaining inside Yale’s gothic kingdom for the fortnight, others are embarking on destinations far away from New Haven, all hoping to experience a refreshing respite from the intensity of college life. Some students long to curl their toes in the warm sand of pristine beaches, while others desire the social fulfillment that is not always easy to attain on campus.

Spring break is here, which means that it is time to unleash the pent-up energies raging within your body. Forget the harsh fluorescent lighting of CCL; turn up the Bob Marley music, and embrace the warmth of Spring Break 2002!

Fountain of Youth: South Florida

Home to miles of uncrowded beach and perhaps the best club scene on the East Coast, the refreshingly chill realm of South Florida is nirvana for those wishing to sun-worship during the day and liberate themselves on the dancefloor at night. While lying beneath the tall, exotic palms with a pi–a colada in hand, the Yale spring breaker can bury the mind-numbing thoughts of orgo midterms and econ problem sets, blissfully relaxing without a worry or a care in the world. You’re in South Florida, and everything around is bright and colorful and unhurried, so do not be surprised if you succumb to the contagious tropical state of mind, if only for a moment.

South Beach

The legendary South Beach is the quintessential Spring Break hot spot, and this beachfront locale just east of Miami truly does live up to its reputation as a hedonistic paradise. Spring breakers seeking to “carpe p.m.” will find that there may be almost too many opportunities for nighttime action, as parties and special events are thrown nearly every night of the week.

The starting block for nightclub action is Washington Avenue, and on it the fun-seeking night owl can find establishments that range from mellow jazz clubs to perennially popular clubs like Crobar and Level, where lines can stretch for blocks.

Perhaps the most picturesque scene in South Beach is the world-famous Ocean Drive. Situated across from a glistening beach (where tops are, well, optional), this trendy oceanfront drive boasts historic art deco hotels that are sidewalk cafes by day, fiery nightspots by night. And when in South Beach, do as the South Beachers do: a refreshing tropical drink is “sex on the beach,” and those feeling especially adventurous may discover that this comes in a sandier and more sensual version as well.

“I’m going down to Miami to chill with Yale friends and get a tan,” said Seth Nadler ’05, who hopes to take advantage of Miami lifestyle during his spring break. “And while my antics won’t be crazy enough to land me a solid segment on MTV’s Spring Break, it should be a great time nonetheless.”

Decidedly young and hip, South Beach maintains its own distinct brand of style. In the realm of fashion, black is the modus operandi, and it is common to see on the beaches built men displaying their “machismo” and scantily clad femmes showing off their copper-toned skin. With eye candy in nearly every direction you look, an intense sexual energy clings to the air. Your “Yale vision,” which had adjusted your sexual standards to fit the Yale talent pool, will now make even decent-looking people appear like amazingly beautiful supermodels. As a result of the expansion in prospects, you can maximize your chances of hooking up while minimizing the cost, as alcohol will no longer be as necessary for improving the scenery.

South Beach is infused with a prominent international influence, making the community seem more European than American. On the sweltering sidewalks the language of Spanish achieves as much usage as English, so one may find that that their trials in college language instruction really are useful.

South Beach also has a firmly entrenched gay scene, so Yalies of this persuasion will feel especially comfortable while on vacation. One significant caveat about South Beach: because the area maintains a well-established over 21 clientele, the clubs strictly enforce proper ID, often employing sophisticated means to detect fakes.

Although South Beach appears to be a land of mindless sunbathing and orgiastic revelry, this fallacy crumbles when one considers the town’s plethora of cultural options. This artistic mecca is home to the nationally renowned Colony Theater and Miami City Ballet, and one can experience concerts and touring Broadway shows at the Jackie Gleason Theater. Even the architecture of South Beach exudes artistic magnificence, as much of the community is designed in the colorful, rounded style of 1920s art deco. Quaint art galleries nestled in the back streets of South Beach are also worthwhile places to visit for those seeking a rich view of the area’s artistic offerings. Downtown Miami is 10 minutes away.

West Palm Beach

Despite prevailing popular sentiment, West Palm Beach offers up more than just a botched presidential election: this moderate sized city just an hour-and-a-half north of Miami boasts a surprisingly active nightlife, as clubgoers hit downtown Clematis Street every Thursday and Saturday nights to experience the convulsive intensity of dance and trance.

For an upscale atmosphere, the club Liquid and its upstairs companion Bliss are worthwhile, although the immaculately dressed bouncers outside are known for their power trips. Attracting a fairly well-to-do crowd, the scene can be a little pretentious; cops are prevalent and the establishments are generally strict on proper identification. Just a stone’s throw from downtown West Palm is the posh Club 251; located on Palm Beach, 251 provides a cool and sophisticated ambience, and celebrity sightings (like Jenny McCarthy) are common.

“Palm Beach is a scene of relaxation juxtaposed with wild nights on Clematis,” said Hansel Tookes ’03, who often spends vacation time in South Florida. “Sun by day, dancing by night.”

Another student heading to Florida, Josh Goodman ’05, plans on skating around his hometown of Palm Beach and simply kicking back. If he feels compelled to catch up on his studies while on break, he will maximize the enjoyment factor.

“Whatever reading I have to do is getting done at the beach,” said Goodman.

One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor: Cancœn, Mexico

Synonymous with drunkenness, sex, and downright debauchery, Cancun is no longer the tranquil, deserted island it once was 20 years ago. Lying off the northeast coast of the Yucatan peninsula, Cancun has truly risen to meteoric glory; every year thousands of college spring breakers converge on the resort island in pursuit of wet T-shirt competitions, shots of tequila, “booze cruises,” and more than a mouthful of cheap thrills.

“If you can’t hook up at Yale, that’s one thing. But if you can’t hook up in Cancun, then you’ve got some issues,” said one perceptive Yale girl. For sexually repressed Yale students, a vacation to hot and wild Cancun may be exactly what the therapist ordered.

In Cancun, English is widely spoken, American currency is readily accepted, and restaurants and malls are ubiquitous. Evidently a target of America’s cultural imperialism, the island will probably not produce much of a culture shock, so travelers can remain in their comfort zone. Unlike America, though, the drinking age south of the border is 18, so college students can engage in bacchanalian revelry without worrying about breaking the law.

“Cancun is the mecca of all spring break destinations,” said Matt Reagan ’05, who will be heading there over break for some fun in the sun. “But if you’re looking for an authentic Mexican experience, Cancun is not the right place.”

By day, the spring breaker can relax on th
e powdery sand beaches, swim in the company of dolphins, explore the ruins of the ancient Mayan civilization, and snorkel through colorful coral reefs. The island encloses a lagoon that is prime for sailing, water skiing, and windsurfing, and a popular day trip option is Isla Mujeres (English translation: “Island of Women”).

And then there’s the nightlife. Ridiculously out of control, Cancun’s nighttime scene is throbbing with energy until sunrise, and offers you many creative ways of achieving intoxication (or even making it onto “Girls Gone Wild”). Your inhibitions will probably be left at the door, as the parties are simply outrageous.

In Cancun’s Hotel Zone, where many resorts are concentrated, you can find a plethora of wild bars including Se–or Frog’s, Fat Tuesdays, and Baja Beach Club, in addition to the many discotheques. Downtown Cancun, with its plethora of clubs and discos, also provides many places where you can strap on your beer goggles, while other party hot spots include La Isla Shopping Village and the Forum by the Sea.

After going to Cancun, it is imperative that you bring back with you wild tales of intrigue, unless of course you’re intending to run for political office (which happens to be about half of the Yale campus).

Don’t Mess with Texas: South Padre Island

It is said that things are bigger in Texas, so why not confirm this hypothesis through hands-on experimentation while in South Padre?

Although the Lone Star state is known for its rugged conservatism, the compact island of South Padre Island (SPI) off the coast of southwest Texas represents a fantastic exception. A magnet for wild college spring breakers, this resort community in the Gulf of Mexico provides a context in which revelers can engage in all forms of merriment, including bird watching.

“South Padre Island, with its exquisite beach, trendy nightlife, and palpable liberalism constitutes the ideal spring break destination,” said Jesus Torres ’05. Torres, who lives in nearby Brownsville, Texas, plans on shelving his schoolbooks and absorbing the insanity of SPI during recess.

Exercising your right to party will not only be an option on SPI, it will be an expectation. At the popular bar Louie’s Backyard, college students can appreciate the finer things in life during the Hawaiian Tropic bikini pageant, and partake in the nightly promotions sponsored by Trojan. This watering hole will also be hosting several major musical acts, including Coolio, Naughty by Nature, and Better than Ezra. Club Rio will also be party central, as they promise a “Spring Break Texas Style” replete with the world’s largest cocktail (7,000 gallons). And Padre Boulevard is home to many bars and clubs where you can “come on and raise up”.

Popular among Texas state schools, South Padre Island connects to the mainland via a bridge, and the island’s intimate size makes walking the primary mode of transportation. An island bus service known as the “Wave” makes stops at popular locations, and is especially convenient for those inebriated partiers whose legs feel like the jello shots they’ve been eagerly downing all night.

The best beaches are open to the public, and unlike Old Campus, kegs are permitted on them. Most clubs on the island will allow you inside as long as you can prove you’re 18. But the drinking age is still 21, so underaged patrons will have to be clever if they want to throw alcohol into the mix.

Our fanatical Texan friends keep reminding us how great their state is, so after a trip to South Padre Island maybe we’ll believe them.

What Does it All Mean Corkey?

Spring break is, first and foremost, a mid-semester reprieve that allows us to reflect on our past, focus on the present, and look ahead toward a bright future. Wherever you plan on spending your two week vacation, whether it be in the sparkling waters off the Florida coast or inside a Yale library writing a senior thesis, do try to take advantage of the chilltime to regain perspective, because the deadline-driven, workaday world of college does not lend itself to a leisurely, contemplative existence.

As Bob Marley casually assures us, “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be alright.” While on spring break, just listen to the music play–

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