Written By: Eliza Berman

Fun in the sun is one of the constants in American life. The impulses don’t change, even if the fashions do.

In 1947, when LIFE accompanied 10,000 young men and women to Balboa Beach in Southern California for a seaside romp. This day of surf and sand took place during spring break, and was marked by dancing, boat races, beauty pageants and sunbathing. The evening hours found students aglow in the warmth of bonfires as portable radios churned out the tunes of the day. (Top hits that year included “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba (My Bambino Go to Sleep).“)

The fashion looks tell you that you are in another era. But not much else does, really. The pleasures of the beach remain more alike than not, regardless of the age that you are in—or the age of the beachgoers, for that matter. By the seaside, people become kids again, and that’s part of the fun of being there.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

Balboa Beach Party

Glendale college students partying on a beach in Balboa, Newport Beach, California, April 1947

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

00676876.JPG

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

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Glendale College students at Balboa Beach Party in California, in April of 1947; Possibly for Spring Break.

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Spring break in Southern California, 1947.

Spring Break 1947

Peter Stackpole The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

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