College students usually turn Miami Beach’s main drag into a huge street party at this time of year — blocking traffic as they drink and dance to thumping reggaeton music.

But strict new measures mean the American ritual, known as Spring Break, is a much quieter affair this year.

The city in south Florida is enacting rules to stamp out partying which has gotten out of control — and even violent — in recent years, with two killed in shootings last March.

As the sun went down on the weekend, Ocean Drive — typically the party hub for the thousands who descend on Miami Beach — looked much calmer than normal.

The booming music, crowds of scantily-clad youngsters and the occasional whiff of marijuana smoke were all gone from the city’s iconic avenue with its distinctive Art Deco buildings.

Like Miami Beach, many seaside cities in south Florida are magnets for students keen to let off steam during their Easter break.

But now, to keep things under control, Miami Beach officials have deployed more police, set up extra drink-driving checkpoints and shut down all public parking lots except one which charges $100 on the busiest weekends of the Spring Break period.

Bars and restaurants cannot open sidewalk cafe areas, while liquor stores must close at 8:00 pm.

And the city has made its message loud and clear in a video shared on social media.

“Hey, We need to talk,” a young woman sitting by the ocean says as the ad begins. “Our idea of ​​a good time is relaxing on the beach.”

“Hitting up the spa,” says another girl.

“Or checking out a new restaurant,” says a young man.

“You just want to get drunk in public and ignore laws,” says the first woman, after which yet another young woman says: “so we’re breaking up with you.”

– Not so thrilled –

A student named Shannon McKinney has just found out about the new rules and is furious. She cannot go to the beach after 6:00 pm — a closing time four hours earlier than other times of the year.

“It’s kind of wack because we just want to have fun. We’re not here to promote violence. We came a long way and we spent money,” said McKinney, who lives in New Orleans and traveled to Miami Beach with her sister and some friends.

Conae Rhodes, a 25-year-old woman from Virginia, was more understanding of the new restrictions.

“I kind of understand where they’re coming from because of the Spring Break being here every year. There are always people who don’t know how to act or don’t know how to control their liquor,” she said.

The city’s crackdown has also drawn mixed responses from people who live year-round in Miami Beach.

Musician Joel Hernandez, 54, said he understands the need for safety as Spring Break has become more chaotic in recent years — though he blames troublemakers rather than students for the problems.

Still, he says the new measures go too far.

“I live a few blocks from downtown and this complicates things for me. It’s like we are going into a war zone, with everything closed down,” he said.

“In the end you don’t feel safer but rather you are afraid something is going to happen,” said Hernandez.

Janet Alvarado, who manages a restaurant one block from Ocean Drive, complained that the new rules are hurting businesses like hers.

“Now we have a lot of safety but we don’t have customers,” said Alvarado. “They’ve gone too far for small businesses that are trying to make ends meet.”

Hernandez said the measures risked damaging the image and charm of Miami Beach as a place to let your hair down and have fun.

“What’s happening is very sad. Let’s hope they ease the restrictions a bit in the next few years,” she said.

gma/dw/bjt/mlm