The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The etymology of the term ‘hippie’ is from hipster, and was initially used to describebeatniks who had moved into San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. Both the words “hip” and “hep” came from African American culture and denote “awareness.” The early hippies inherited the countercultural values of the Beat Generation, created their own communities, listened to psychedelic rock, embraced the sexual revolution, and some used drugs such as cannabis, LSD and magic mushrooms to explore altered states of consciousness.
In January 1967, the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco popularized hippie culture, leading to the legendary Summer of Love on the West Coast of the United States, and the 1969 Woodstock Festival on the East Coast. Hippies in Mexico, known as jipitecas, formed La Onda and gathered at Avándaro, while in New Zealand, nomadichousetruckers practiced alternative lifestyles and promoted sustainable energy at Nambassa. In the United Kingdom, mobile “peace convoys” of New age travellers made summer pilgrimages to free music festivals at Stonehenge. In Australia hippies gathered at Nimbin for the 1973 Aquarius Festival and the annual Cannabis Law Reform Rally orMardiGrass. “Piedra Roja Festival“, a major hippie event in Chile, was held in 1970.
Hippie fashions and values had a major effect on culture, influencing popular music, television, film, literature, and the arts. Since the 1960s, many aspects of hippie culture have been assimilated by mainstream society. The religious and cultural diversity espoused by the hippies has gained acceptance, and Eastern philosophy and spiritual concepts have reached a larger audience. The hippie legacy can be observed in contemporary culture in myriad forms, including health food, music festivals, contemporary sexual mores, and even the cyberspace revolution.
Lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower, the principal American editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, argues that the terms hipster and hippie derive from the wordhip, whose origins are unknown. The term hipster was coined by Harry Gibson in 1940.
Although the word hippies made isolated appearances during the late 1950s and early 1960s, the first clearly contemporary use of the term appeared in print on September 5, 1965, in the article, “A New Haven for Beatniks“, by San Francisco journalist Michael Fallon. In that article, Fallon wrote about the Blue Unicorn coffeehouse, using the term hippie to refer to the new generation of beatniks who had moved from North Beach into the Haight-Ashbury district.New York Times editor and usage writer Theodore M. Bernstein said the paper changed the spelling from hippy to hippie to avoid the ambiguous description of clothing as hippy fashions.
A July, 1967 Time Magazine study on hippie philosophy credited the foundation of the hippie movement with historical precedent as far back as the counterculture of the Ancient Greeks, espoused by philosophers like Diogenes of Sinope and the Cynics also as early forms of hippie culture. It also named as notable influences the religious and spiritual teachings of Henry David Thoreau, Hillel the Elder, Jesus, Buddha, St. Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, andJ.R.R. Tolkien.
The first signs of modern “proto-hippies” emerged in fin de siècle Europe. Between 1896 and 1908, a German youth movement arose as a countercultural reaction to the organized social and cultural clubs that centered around German folk music. Known as Der Wandervogel (“migratory bird”), the movement opposed the formality of traditional German clubs, instead emphasizing amateur music and singing, creative dress, and communal outings involving hiking and camping. Inspired by the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Goethe, Hermann Hesse, and Eduard Baltzer, Wandervogel attracted thousands of young Germans who rejected the rapid trend toward urbanization and yearned for the pagan, back-to-nature spiritual life of their ancestors. During the first several decades of the 20th century, Germans settled around the United States, bringing the values of the Wandervogel with them. Some opened the first health food stores, and many moved to Southern California where they could practice an alternative lifestyle in a warm climate. Over time, young Americans adopted the beliefs and practices of the new immigrants. One group, called the “Nature Boys”, took to the California desert and raised organic food, espousing a back-to-nature lifestyle like the Wandervogel. Songwriter Eden Ahbez wrote a hit song called Nature Boy inspired by Robert Bootzin (Gypsy Boots), who helped popularize health-consciousness, yoga, and organic food in the United States.
Like Wandervogel, the hippie movement in the United States began as a youth movement. Composed mostly of white teenagers and young adults between 15 and 25 years old, hippies inherited a tradition of cultural dissent from bohemians and beatniks of the Beat Generation in the late 1950s. Beats like Allen Ginsberg crossed-over from the beat movement and became fixtures of the burgeoning hippie and anti-war movements. By 1965, hippies had become an established social group in the U.S., and the movement eventually expanded to other countries, extending as far as the United Kingdom and Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. The hippie ethos influenced The Beatles and others in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, and they in turn influenced their American counterparts. Hippie culture spread worldwide through a fusion of rock music, folk, blues, and psychedelic rock; it also found expression in literature, the dramatic arts, fashion, and the visual arts, including film, posters advertising rock concerts, and album covers. Self-described hippies had become a significant minority by 1968, representing just under 0.2% of the U.S. population before declining in the mid-1970s.
Along with the New Left and the American Civil Rights Movement, the hippie movement was one of three dissenting groups of the 1960s counterculture.Hippies rejected established institutions, criticized middle class values, opposed nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War, embraced aspects of Eastern philosophy, championed sexual liberation, were often vegetarian and eco-friendly, promoted the use of psychedelic drugs which they believed expanded one’s consciousness, and created intentional communities or communes. They used alternative arts, street theatre, folk music, and psychedelic rock as a part of their lifestyle and as a way of expressing their feelings, their protests and their vision of the world and life. Hippies opposed political and social orthodoxy, choosing a gentle and nondoctrinaire ideology that favored peace, love and personal freedom, expressed for example in The Beatles‘ song “All You Need is Love“. Hippies perceived the dominant culture as a corrupt, monolithic entity that exercised undue power over their lives, calling this culture “The Establishment“, “Big Brother“, or “The Man“. Noting that they were “seekers of meaning and value”, scholars like Timothy Miller have described hippies as a new religious movement.
Early hippies (1960–1966)
Escapin’ through the lily fields
I came across an empty space
It trembled and exploded
Left a bus stop in its place
The bus came by and I got on
That’s when it all began
There was cowboy Neal
At the wheel
Of a bus to never-ever land
– Grateful Dead, lyrics from “That’s It for the Other One”
During the early 1960s, novelist Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters lived communally in California. Members included Beat Generation hero Neal Cassady, Ken Babbs, Carolyn Adams (aka Mountain Girl and Carolyn Garcia), Stewart Brand, Del Close, Paul Foster, George Walker, Sandy Lehmann-Haupt and others. Their early escapades were documented in Tom Wolfe‘s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. With Cassady at the wheel of a school bus named Further, the Merry Pranksters traveled across the United States to celebrate the publication of Kesey’s novel Sometimes a Great Notion and to visit the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. The Merry Pranksters were known for using marijuana, amphetamines, and LSD, and during their journey they “turned on” many people to these drugs. The Merry Pranksters filmed and audiotaped their bus trips, creating an immersive multimedia experience that would later be presented to the public in the form of festivals and concerts. The Grateful Dead wrote a song about the Merry Pranksters’ bus trips called “That’s It for the Other One”.
During this period Greenwich Village in New York City and Berkeley, California anchored the American folk music circuit. Berkeley’s two coffee houses, the Cabale Creamery and the Jabberwock, sponsored performances by folk music artists in a beat setting. In April 1963, Chandler A. Laughlin III, co-founder of the Cabale Creamery, established a kind of tribal, family identity among approximately fifty people who attended a traditional, all-night Native American peyote ceremony in a rural setting. This ceremony combined a psychedelic experience with traditional Native American spiritual values; these people went on to sponsor a unique genre of musical expression and performance at the Red Dog Saloon in the isolated, old-time mining town of Virginia City, Nevada.
During the summer of 1965, Laughlin recruited much of the original talent that led to a unique amalgam of traditional folk music and the developing psychedelic rock scene. He and his cohorts created what became known as “The Red Dog Experience“, featuring previously unknown musical acts — Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Charlatans, and others — who played in the completely refurbished, intimate setting of Virginia City’s Red Dog Saloon. There was no clear delineation between “performers” and “audience” in “The Red Dog Experience”, during which music, psychedelic experimentation, a unique sense of personal style and Bill Ham’s first primitive light shows combined to create a new sense of community. Laughlin and George Hunter of the Charlatans were true “proto-hippies”, with their long hair, boots and outrageous clothing of 19th-century American (and Native American) heritage. LSD manufacturer Owsley Stanley lived in Berkeley during 1965 and provided much of the LSD that became a seminal part of the “Red Dog Experience”, the early evolution of psychedelic rock and budding hippie culture. At the Red Dog Saloon, The Charlatans were the first psychedelic rock band to play live (albeit unintentionally) loaded on LSD.
When they returned to San Francisco, Red Dog participants Luria Castell, Ellen Harman and Alton Kelley created a collective called “The Family Dog.”Modeled on their Red Dog experiences, on October 16, 1965, the Family Dog hosted “A Tribute to Dr. Strange” at Longshoreman’s Hall. Attended by approximately 1,000 of the Bay Area’s original “hippies”, this was San Francisco’s first psychedelic rock performance, costumed dance and light show, featuring Jefferson Airplane, The Great Society and The Marbles. Two other events followed before year’s end, one at California Hall and one at the Matrix. After the first three Family Dog events, a much larger psychedelic event occurred at San Francisco’s Longshoreman’s Hall. Called “The Trips Festival”, it took place on January 21–January 23, 1966, and was organized by Stewart Brand, Ken Kesey, Owsley Stanley and others. Ten thousand people attended this sold-out event, with a thousand more turned away each night. On Saturday January 22, the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company came on stage, and 6,000 people arrived to imbibe punch spiked with LSD and to witness one of the first fully developed light shows of the era.
It is nothing new. We have a private revolution going on. A revolution of individuality and diversity that can only be private. Upon becoming a group movement, such a revolution ends up with imitators rather than participants…It is essentially a striving for realization of one’srelationship to life and other people…
By February 1966, the Family Dog became Family Dog Productions under organizer Chet Helms, promoting happenings at the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore Auditorium in initial cooperation with Bill Graham. The Avalon Ballroom, the Fillmore Auditorium and other venues provided settings where participants could partake of the full psychedelic music experience. Bill Ham, who had pioneered the original Red Dog light shows, perfected his art of liquid light projection, which combined light shows and film projection and became synonymous with the San Francisco ballroom experience. The sense of style and costume that began at the Red Dog Saloon flourished when San Francisco’s Fox Theater went out of business and hippies bought up its costume stock, reveling in the freedom to dress up for weekly musical performances at their favorite ballrooms. As San Francisco Chronicle music columnist Ralph J. Gleasonput it, “They danced all night long, orgiastic, spontaneous and completely free form.”
Some of the earliest San Francisco hippies were former students at San Francisco State College who became intrigued by the developing psychedelic hippie music scene. These students joined the bands they loved, living communally in the large, inexpensive Victorian apartments in the Haight-Ashbury. Young Americans around the country began moving to San Francisco, and by June 1966, around 15,000 hippies had moved into the Haight. The Charlatans, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and theGrateful Dead all moved to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood during this period. Activity centered around the Diggers, a guerrilla street theatregroup that combined spontaneous street theatre, anarchistic action, and art happenings in their agenda to create a “free city”. By late 1966, the Diggersopened free stores which simply gave away their stock, provided free food, distributed free drugs, gave away money, organized free music concerts, and performed works of political art.
On October 6, 1966, the state of California declared LSD a controlled substance, which made the drug illegal. In response to the criminalization of psychedelics, San Francisco hippies staged a gathering in the Golden Gate Park panhandle, called the Love Pageant Rally, attracting an estimated 700–800 people. As explained by Allan Cohen, co-founder of the San Francisco Oracle, the purpose of the rally was twofold: to draw attention to the fact that LSD had just been made illegal — and to demonstrate that people who used LSD were not criminals, nor were they mentally ill. The Grateful Dead played, and some sources claim that LSD was consumed at the rally. According to Cohen, those who took LSD “were not guilty of using illegal substances…We were celebrating transcendental consciousness, the beauty of the universe, the beauty of being.”
Summer of Love (1967)
On January 14, 1967, the outdoor Human Be-In organized by Michael Bowen helped to popularize hippie culture across the United States, with 20,000 hippies gathering in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. On March 26, Lou Reed, Edie Sedgwick and 10,000 hippies came together in Manhattan for the Central Park Be-In on Easter Sunday. The Monterey Pop Festival from June 16 to June 18 introduced the rock music of the counterculture to a wide audience and marked the start of the “Summer of Love”. Scott McKenzie‘s rendition of John Phillips‘ song, “San Francisco“, became a hit in the United States and Europe. The lyrics, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”, inspired thousands of young people from all over the world to travel to San Francisco, sometimes wearing flowers in their hair and distributing flowers to passersby, earning them the name, “Flower Children“. Bands like the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin), andJefferson Airplane lived in the Haight.
In June 1967, Herb Caen was approached by “a distinguished magazine” to write about why hippies were attracted to San Francisco. He declined the assignment but interviewed hippies in the Haight for his own newspaper column in the San Francisco Chronicle. Caen determined that, “Except in their music, they couldn’t care less about the approval of the straight world.” Caen himself felt that the city of San Francisco was so straight that it provided a visible contrast with hippie culture. On July 7, Time magazine featured a cover story entitled, “The Hippies: The Philosophy of a Subculture.” The article described the guidelines of the hippie code: “Do your own thing, wherever you have to do it and whenever you want. Drop out. Leave society as you have known it. Leave it utterly. Blow the mind of every straight person you can reach. Turn them on, if not to drugs, then to beauty, love, honesty, fun.” It is estimated that around 100,000 people traveled to San Francisco in the summer of 1967. The media was right behind them, casting a spotlight on the Haight-Ashbury district and popularizing the “hippie” label. With this increased attention, hippies found support for their ideals of love and peace but were also criticized for their anti-work, pro-drug, and permissive ethos.
“According to the hippies, LSD was the glue that held the Haight together. It was the hippie sacrament, a mind detergent capable of washing away years of social programming, a re-imprinting device, a consciousness-expander, a tool that would push us up the evolutionary ladder.”
At this point, The Beatles had released their groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band which was quickly embraced by the hippie movement with its colorful psychedelic sonic imagery.
By the end of the summer, the Haight-Ashbury scene had deteriorated. The incessant media coverage led the Diggers to declare the “death” of the hippie with a parade. According to the late poet Susan ‘Stormi’ Chambless, the hippies buried an effigy of a hippie in the Panhandle to demonstrate the end of his/her reign. Haight-Ashbury could not accommodate the influx of crowds (mostly naive youngsters) with no place to live. Many took to living on the street, panhandling and drug-dealing. There were problems with malnourishment, disease, and drug addiction. Crime and violence skyrocketed. None of these trends reflected what the hippies had envisioned. By the end of 1967, many of the hippies and musicians who initiated the Summer of Love had moved on. Beatle George Harrison had once visited Haight-Ashbury and found it to be just a haven for dropouts, inspiring him to give up LSD. Misgivings about the hippie culture, particularly with regard to drug abuse and lenient morality, fueled the moral panics of the late 1960s.
By 1968, hippie-influenced fashions were beginning to take off in the mainstream, especially for youths and younger adults of the populous “Baby Boomer” generation, many of whom may have aspired to emulate the hardcore movements now living in tribalistic communes, but had no overt connections to them. This was noticed not only in terms of clothes and also longer hair for men, but also in music, film, art, and literature, and not just in the US, but around the world. Eugene McCarthy‘s brief presidential campaign successfully persuaded a significant minority of young adults to “get clean for Gene” by shaving their beards or wearing longer skirts; however the “Clean Genes” had little impact on the popular image in the media spotlight, of the hirsute hippy adorned in beads, feathers, flowers and bells.
A sign of this was the visibility that the hippie subculture gained in various mainstream and underground media. Hippie exploitation films are 1960s exploitation films about the hippie counterculture with stereotypical situations associated with the movement such as marihuana and LSD use, sex and wild psychedelic parties. “From almost the beginning, Hollywood also got in on the action and produced a number of extremely lurid hippie exploitation films masquerading as cautionary public service announcements, but which were in fact aimed directly at feeding a morbid public appetite while pretending to take a moral stance. Often depicting drug-crazed hippies living and freaking out in “Manson family” style communes, such films as The Hallucination Generation (1967) and Riot on Sunset Strip (1967) depicted “hippie” youths running wild in an orgy of group sex, drugs, crime and even murder.” Other examples include The Love-ins, Psych-Out, The Trip, and Wild in the Streets. Other more serious and more critically aclaimed films about the hippie counterculture also appeared such as Easy Rider and Alice’s Restaurant (for more information on hippie related films see List of films related to the hippie subculture). Documentaries and television programs have also been produced until today as well as fiction and nonfiction books. Also the popular broadway musicalHair was presented in 1967.
The Yippies, who were seen as an offshoot of the hippie movements parodying as a political party, came to national attention during their celebration of the 1968 spring equinox, when some 3,000 of them took overGrand Central Terminal in New York — eventually resulting in 61 arrests. The Yippies, especially their leaders Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, became notorious for their theatrics, such as trying to levitate the Pentagon at the October 1967 war protest, and such slogans as “Rise up and abandon the creeping meatball!” Their stated intention to protest the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August, including nominating their own candidate, “Lyndon Pigasus Pig” (an actual pig), was also widely publicized in the media at this time. In Cambridge, hippies congregated each Sunday for a large “be-in” at Cambridge Park with swarms of drummers and those beginning the Women’s Movement.
In April 1969, the building of People’s Park in Berkeley, California received international attention. The University of California, Berkeley had demolished all the buildings on a 2.8-acre (11,000 m2) parcel near campus, intending to use the land to build playing fields and a parking lot. After a long delay, during which the site became a dangerous eyesore, thousands of ordinary Berkeley citizens, merchants, students, and hippies took matters into their own hands, planting trees, shrubs, flowers and grass to convert the land into a park. A major confrontation ensued on May 15, 1969, when Governor Ronald Reagan ordered the park destroyed, which led to a two-week occupation of the city of Berkeley by the California National Guard. Flower power came into its own during this occupation as hippies engaged in acts of civil disobedience to plant flowers in empty lots all over Berkeley under the slogan “Let a Thousand Parks Bloom”.
In August 1969, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair took place in Bethel, New York, which for many, exemplified the best of hippie counterculture. Over 500,000 people arrived to hear some of the most notable musicians and bands of the era, among them Canned Heat. Richie Havens, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead,Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Carlos Santana, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, andJimi Hendrix. Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm provided security and attended to practical needs, and the hippie ideals of love and human fellowship seemed to have gained real-world expression. Similar rock festivals occurred in other parts of the country, which played a significant role in spreading hippie ideals throughout America.
In December 1969, a rock festival took place in Altamont, California, about 30 miles (45 km) east of San Francisco. Initially billed as “Woodstock West”, its official name was The Altamont Free Concert. About 300,000 people gathered to hear The Rolling Stones; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Jefferson Airplane and other bands. The Hells Angels provided security that proved far less benevolent than the security provided at the Woodstock event: 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was stabbed and killed during The Rolling Stones’ performance after he brandished a gun and waved it toward the stage.
By the 1970s, the 1960s zeitgeist that had spawned hippie culture seemed to be on the wane. The events atAltamont Free Concert shocked many Americans, including those who had strongly identified with hippie culture. Another shock came in the form of the Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca murders committed in August 1969 by Charles Manson and his “family” of followers. Nevertheless, the turbulent political atmosphere that featured the bombing of Cambodia and shootings by National Guardsmen at Jackson State University and Kent State University still brought people together. These shootings inspired the May 1970 song by Quicksilver Messenger Service “What About Me?”, where they sang, “You keep adding to my numbers as you shoot my people down”, as well as Neil Young‘s “Ohio“, recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
Much of hippie style had been integrated into mainstream American society by the early 1970s. Large rock concerts that originated with the 1967 KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival and Monterey Pop Festival and the 1968 Isle of Wight Festival became the norm, evolving into stadium rock in the process. The anti-war movement reached its peak in May 1971 as 40,000 protesters were arrested in Washington DC. President Nixon himself actually ventured out of the White House and chatted with a group of the ‘hippie’ protesters. The draft was ended soon thereafter, in 1972. In the mid-1970s, with the end of the draft and the Vietnam War, a renewal of patriotic sentiment associated with the approach of the United States Bicentennial and the emergence of punk in London, Manchester, New York and Los Angeles, the mainstream media lost interest in the hippie counterculture. At the same time there was a revival of the Mod subculture, skinheads, teddy boys and the emergence of new youth cultures, like the goths (an arty offshoot of punk) and football casuals. Acid rock gave way to prog rock, heavy metal, disco, and punk rock.
Starting in the late 1960s, hippies began to come under attack by working-class skinheads. Hippies were also vilified and sometimes attacked bypunks, revivalist mods, greasers, football casuals, Teddy boys, rednecks and members of other youth subcultures of the 1970s and 1980s. The countercultural movement was also under covert assault by J. Edgar Hoover‘s infamous “Counter Intelligence Program” (COINTELPRO), but in some countries it was other youth groups that were a threat. Hippie ideals had a marked influence on anarcho-punk and some post-punk youth subcultures, especially during the Second Summer of Love.
While many hippies made a long-term commitment to the lifestyle, some people argue that hippies “sold out” during the 1980s and became part of the materialist, consumer culture. Although not as visible as it once was, hippie culture has never died out completely: hippies and neo-hippies can still be found on college campuses, on communes, and at gatherings and festivals. Many embrace the hippie values of peace, love, and community, and hippies may still be found in bohemian enclaves around the world.
Towards the end of the 20th century, a trend of “cyber hippies” emerged, that embraced some of the qualities of the 1960s psychedelic counterculture.
Ethos and characteristics
Hippies sought to free themselves from societal restrictions, choose their own way, and find new meaning in life. One expression of hippie independence from societal norms was found in their standard of dress and grooming, which made hippies instantly recognizable to one another, and served as a visual symbol of their respect for individual rights. Through their appearance, hippies declared their willingness to question authority, and distanced themselves from the “straight” and “square” (i.e., conformist) segments of society. Personality traits and values hippies tend to be associated with are “altruism andmysticism, honesty, joy and nonviolence“.
At the same time, many thoughtful hippies distanced themselves from the very idea that the way a person dresses could be a reliable signal of who he was, especially after outright criminals, like Charles Manson, began to adopt superficial hippie characteristics, and also after plainclothes policemen started to “dress like hippies” in order to divide and conquer legitimate members of the counter-culture. Frank Zappa admonished his audience that “we all wear a uniform”: the San Francisco clown/hippie Wavy Gravy said in 1987 that he could still see fellow-feeling in the eyes of Market Street businessmen who had dressed conventionally to survive.
Art and Fashion
Leading proponents of the 1960s Psychedelic Art movement were San Francisco poster artists such as: Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Bonnie MacLean, Stanley Mouse & Alton Kelley, and Wes Wilson. Their Psychedelic Rock concert posters were inspired by Art Nouveau, Victoriana, Dada, and Pop Art. The “Fillmore Posters” were among the most notable of the time. Richly saturated colors in glaring contrast, elaborately ornate lettering, strongly symmetrical composition, collage elements, rubber-like distortions, and bizarre iconography are all hallmarks of the San Francisco psychedelic poster art style. The style flourished from about 1966 – 1972. Their work was immediately influential to album cover art, and indeed all of the aforementioned artists also created album covers. Psychedelic light-shows were a new art-form developed for rock concerts. Using oil and dye in an emulsion that was set between large convex lenses upon overhead projectors the lightshow artists created bubbling liquid visuals that pulsed in rhythm to the music. This was mixed with slideshows and film loops to create an improvisational motion picture art form to give visual representation to the improvisational jams of the rock bands and create a completely “trippy” atmosphere for the audience. The Brotherhood of Light were responsible for many of the light-shows in San Francisco psychedelic rock concerts.
No. 1 of the cult underground comic strip The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers which dealt with the adventures and lifestyles of three fictional hippies
Out of the psychedelic counterculture also arose a new genre of comic books: underground comix. “Zap Comix” was among the original underground comics, and featured the work of Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso,Rick Griffin, and Robert Williams among others. Underground Comix were ribald, intensely satirical, and seemed to pursue weirdness for the sake of weirdness. Gilbert Shelton created perhaps the most enduring of underground cartoon characters, “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers“, whose drugged out exploits held a hilarious mirror up to the hippy lifestyle of the 1960s.
As in the beat movement preceding them, and the punk movement that followed soon after, hippie symbols and iconography were purposely borrowed from either “low” or “primitive” cultures, with hippie fashion reflecting a disorderly, often vagrant style. As with other adolescent, white middle-class movements, deviant behavior of the hippies involved challenging the prevailing gender differences of their time: both men and women in the hippie movement wore jeans and maintained long hair, and both genders wore sandals or went barefoot. Men often wore beards, while women wore little or no makeup, with many going braless. Hippies often chose brightly colored clothing and wore unusual styles, such as bell-bottom pants, vests, tie-dyed garments, dashikis, peasant blouses, and long, full skirts; non-Western inspired clothing with Native American, Asian, Indian, African and Latin American motifs were also popular. Much of hippie clothing was self-made in defiance of corporate culture, and hippies often purchased their clothes from flea markets and second-hand shops. Favored accessories for both men and women included Native American jewelry, head scarves, headbands and long beaded necklaces. Hippie homes, vehicles and other possessions were often decorated with psychedelic art.
Love and Sex
Oz number 28 also known as the “Schoolkids issue of OZ” which was the main cause of a high-profile obscenity case in the United Kingdom. Oz, was a UK underground publication with a general hippie counter-cultural point of view
The stereotype on the issues of love and sex said that hippies were “promiscuous, having wild sex orgies, seducing innocent teenagers and every manner of sexual perversion.” The hippie movement appeared in the middle of a rising Sexual Revolution in which many views of the status quo on this subject were challenged The hippies inherited a countercultural view and practice on sex and love from the Beat Generation and “their writings influenced the hippies to open up when it came to sex, and to experiment without guilt or jealousy.” A popular hippie slogan appeared that said “If it feels good, do it!” and so “meant you were free to love whomever you pleased, whenever you pleased, however you pleased. This encouraged spontaneous sexual activity and experimentation. Group sex,public sex…homosexuality, all the taboos went out the window. This doesn’t mean that straight sex…or monogamywere unknown, quite the contrary. Nevertheless, the open relationship became an accepted part of the hippy lifestyle. This meant that you might have a primary relationship with one person, but if another attracted you, you could explore that relationship without rancor or jealousy.”
Hippies embraced the old slogan of free love of radical social reformers of other eras and so “Free love made the whole love, marriage, sex, baby package obsolete. Love was no longer limited to one person, you could love anyone you chose. In fact love was something you shared with everyone, not just your sex partners. Love exists to be shared freely. We also discovered the more you share, the more you get! So why reserve your love for a select few? This profound truth was one of the great hippie revelations.” Experimentation of sex alongside psychedelics also occurred due to the perception of them being un-inhibitors while others explored the spiritual aspects of sex.
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Hippies tended to travel light and could pick up and go wherever the action was at any time. Whether at a “love-in” onMount Tamalpais near San Francisco, a demonstration against the Vietnam War in Berkeley, or one of Ken Kesey‘s “Acid Tests”, if the “vibe” wasn’t right and a change of scene was desired, hippies were mobile at a moment’s notice. Planning was eschewed as hippies were happy to put a few clothes in a backpack, stick out their thumbs and hitchhike anywhere. Hippies seldom worried whether they had money, hotel reservations or any of the other standard accoutrements of travel. Hippie households welcomed overnight guests on an impromptu basis, and the reciprocal nature of the lifestyle permitted freedom of movement. People generally cooperated to meet each other’s needs in ways that became less common after the early 1970s.” This way of life is still seen among the Rainbow Familygroups, new age travellers and New Zealand’s housetruckers.
A derivative of this free-flow style of travel were hippie trucks and buses, hand-crafted mobile houses built on truck or bus chassis to facilitate a nomadic lifestyle as documented in the 1974 book Roll Your Own. Some of these mobile gypsy houses were quite elaborate with beds, toilets, showers and cooking facilities.
On the West Coast, a unique lifestyle developed around the Renaissance Faires that Phyllis and Ron Patterson first organized in 1963. During the summer and fall months, entire families traveled together in their trucks and buses, parked at Renaissance Pleasure Faire sites in Southern and Northern California, worked their crafts during the week, and donned Elizabethan costume for weekend performances and to attend booths where handmade goods were sold to the public.The sheer number of young people living at the time made for unprecedented travel opportunities to special happenings. The peak experience of this type was the Woodstock Festival near Bethel, New York, from August 15 to 18, 1969, which drew over 500,000 people.
One travel experience, undertaken by hundreds of thousands of hippies between 1969 and 1971, was the Hippie trailoverland route to India. Carrying little or no luggage, and with small amounts of cash, almost all followed the same route, hitch-hiking across Europe to Athens and on to Istanbul, then by train through central Turkey via Erzurum, continuing by bus into Iran, via Tabriz and Tehran to Mashhad, across the Afghan border into Herat, through southern Afghanistan via Kandahar to Kabul, over the Khyber Pass into Pakistan, via Rawalpindi and Lahore to the Indian frontier. Once in India, hippies went to many different destinations but gathered in large numbers on the beaches of Goa and Kovalam in Trivandrum(Kerala), or crossed the border into Nepal to spend months in Kathmandu. In Kathmandu, most of the hippies hung out in tranquil surrounding of a place called Freak Street (Nepal Bhasa: Jhoo Chhen) which still exists near Kathmandu Durbar Square.
Spirituality and religion
Many hippies rejected mainstream organized religion in favor of a more personal spiritual experience, often drawing on indigenous and folk beliefs. If they adhered to mainstream faiths, hippies were likely to embrace Buddhism, Hinduism and the restorationist Christianity of the Jesus Movement. Some hippies embraced neo-paganism, especially Wicca.
In his 1991 book, “Hippies and American Values” Timothy Miller describes the hippie ethos as essentially a “religious movement” whose goal was to transcend the limitations of mainstream religious institutions. “Like many dissenting religions, the hippies were enormously hostile to the religious institutions of the dominant culture, and they tried to find new and adequate ways to do the tasks the dominant religions failed to perform.” In his seminal contemporaneous work “The Hippie Trip,” author Lewis Yablonsky notes that those who were most respected in hippie settings were the spiritual leaders, the so-called “high priests” who emerged during that era.
One such hippie “high priest” was San Francisco State University Professor Stephen Gaskin. Beginning in 1966, Gaskin’s “Monday Night Class” eventually ourgrew the lecture hall and attracted 1,500 hippie followers in an open discussion of spiritual values drawing from Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu teachings. In 1970, Gaskin founded a Tennessee community called The Farm, and he still lists his religion as “Hippie.”
“The hippies were heirs to a long line of bohemians that includes William Blake, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Hesse, Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, Aldous Huxley, utopian movements like the Rosicrucians and the Theosophists, and most directly the Beatniks. Hippies emerged from a society that had produced birth-control pills, a counterproductive war in Vietnam, the liberation and idealism of the civil rights movement, feminism, gay rights, FM radio, mass-produced LSD, a strong economy, and a huge number of baby-boom teenagers. These elements allowed the hippies to have a mainstream impact that dwarfed that of the Beats and earlier avant-garde cultures.” For the historian of the anarchist movement Ronald Creagh, the hippie movement could be considered as the last spectacular resurgence of utopian socialism For Creagh, it is characteristic in this a desire of transformation of society not through a political revolution, or through reformist action pushed forward by the state, but through the creation of a counter-society of a socialist character in the midst of the current system which will be made up of ideal communities of a more or less libertarian social form.
The peace symbol was developed in the UK as a logo for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and was embraced by U.S. anti-war protestors during the 1960s. Hippies were often pacifists and participated in non-violent political demonstrations, such as civil rights marches, the marches on Washington D.C., and anti–Vietnam War demonstrations, including draft-card burnings and the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests. The degree of political involvement varied widely among hippies, from those who were active in peace demonstrations to the more anti-authority street theater and demonstrations of the Yippies, the most politically active hippie sub-group. Bobby Seale discussed the differences between Yippies and hippies with Jerry Rubin who told him that Yippies were the political wing of the hippie movement, as hippies have not “necessarily become political yet”. Regarding the political activity of hippies, Rubin said, “They mostly prefer to be stoned, but most of them want peace, and they want an end to this stuff.”
In addition to non-violent political demonstrations, hippie opposition to the Vietnam War included organizing political action groups to oppose the war, refusal to serve in the military and conducting “teach-ins” on college campuses that covered Vietnamese history and the larger political context of the war.
Scott McKenzie’s 1967 rendition of John Phillips’ song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)“, which helped inspire the hippie Summer of Love, became a homecoming song for all Vietnam veterans arriving in San Francisco from 1967 on. McKenzie has dedicated every American performance of “San Francisco” to Vietnam veterans, and he sang at the 2002 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Hippie political expression often took the form of “dropping out” of society to implement the changes they sought.
Politically motivated movements aided by hippies include the back to the land movement of the 1960s, cooperative business enterprises, alternative energy, the free press movement, and organic farming. The San Francisco group known as the Diggers articulated an influential radical criticism of contemporary mass consumer society and so they opened free stores which simply gave away their stock, provided free food, distributed free drugs, gave away money, organized free music concerts, and performed works of political art. The Diggers took their name from the original English Diggers (1649–50) led by Gerrard Winstanley and sought to create a mini-society free of money and capitalism.
Nevertheless such activism was carried through anti-authoritarian and non-violent means and so “The way of the hippie is antithetical to all repressive hierarchical power structures since they are adverse to the hippie goals of peace, love and freedom…Hippies don’t impose their beliefs on others. Instead, hippies seek to change the world through reason and by living what they believe.”
The political ideals of the hippies influenced other movements, such as anarcho-punk, rave culture, green politics, stoner culture and the new agemovement. Penny Rimbaud of the English anarcho-punk band Crass said in interviews, and in an essay called The Last Of The Hippies, that Crass was formed in memory of his friend, Wally Hope. Rimbaud also said that Crass were heavily involved with the hippie movement throughout the 1960s and Seventies, with Dial House being established in 1967. Many punks were often critical of Crass for their involvement in the hippie movement. Like Crass,Jello Biafra was influenced by the hippie movement and cited the yippies as a key influence on his political activism and thinking, though he did write songs critical of hippies.
Following in the footsteps of the Beats, many hippies used cannabis (marijuana), considering it pleasurable and benign. They enlarged their spiritual pharmacopeia to include hallucinogens such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline while renouncing the use of alcohol. On the East Coast of the United States, Harvard University professors Timothy Leary,Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) advocated psychotropic drugs for psychotherapy, self-exploration, religiousand spiritual use. Regarding LSD, Leary said, “Expand your consciousness and find ecstasy and revelation within.”
On the West Coast of the United States, Ken Kesey was an important figure in promoting the recreational use of psychotropic drugs, especially LSD, also known as “acid.” By holding what he called “Acid Tests“, and touring the country with his band of Merry Pranksters, Kesey became a magnet for media attention that drew many young people to the fledgling movement. The Grateful Dead (originally billed as “The Warlocks”) played some of their first shows at the Acid Tests, often as high on LSD as their audiences. Kesey and the Pranksters had a “vision of turning on the world.”Harder drugs, such as amphetamines and heroin were also used in hippie settings; however, these drugs were often disdained, even among those who used them, because they were recognized as harmful and addictive.
Newcomers to the Internet are often startled to discover themselves not so much in some soulless colony of technocrats as in a kind of cultural Brigadoon – a flowering remnant of the ’60s, when hippie communalism and libertarian politics formed the roots of the modern cyberrevolution…
The legacy of the hippie movement continues to permeate Western society. In general, unmarried couples of all ages feel free to travel and live together without societal disapproval. Frankness regarding sexual matters has become more common, and the rights of homosexual, bisexual andtranssexual people, as well as people who choose not to categorize themselves at all, have expanded. Religious and cultural diversity has gained greater acceptance. Co-operative business enterprises and creative community living arrangements are more accepted than before. Some of the little hippie health food stores of the 1960s and 1970s are now large-scale, profitable businesses, due to greater interest in natural foods, herbal remedies, vitamins and other nutritional supplements.Authors Stewart Brand and John Markoff argue that the development and popularization of personal computers and the Internet find one of their primary roots in the anti-authoritarian ethos promoted by hippie culture.
Distinct appearance and clothing was one of the immediate legacies of hippies worldwide. During the 1960s and 1970s, mustaches, beards and long hair became more commonplace and colorful, while multi-ethnic clothing dominated the fashion world. Since that time, a wide range of personal appearance options and clothing styles, including nudity, have become more widely acceptable, all of which was uncommon before the hippie era. Hippies also inspired the decline in popularity of the necktie and other business clothing, which had been unavoidable for men during the 1950s and early 1960s. Astrology, including everything from serious study to whimsical amusement regarding personal traits, was integral to hippie culture.
The hippie legacy in literature includes the lasting popularity of books reflecting the hippie experience, such as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. In music, the folk rock and psychedelic rock popular among hippies evolved into genres such asacid rock, world beat and heavy metal music. Psychedelic trance (also known as psytrance) is a type of electronic musicmusic influenced by 1960s psychedelic rock. The tradition of hippie music festivals began in the United States in 1965 with Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, where the Grateful Dead played tripping on LSD and initiated psychedelic jamming. For the next several decades, many hippies and neo-hippies became part of the Deadhead community, attending music and art festivals held around the country. The Grateful Dead toured continuously, with few interruptions between 1965 and 1995.Phish and their fans (called Phish Heads) operated in the same manner, with the band touring continuously between 1983 and 2004. Many contemporary bands performing at hippie festivals and their derivatives are called jam bands, since they play songs that contain long instrumentals similar to the original hippie bands of the 1960s.
With the demise of Grateful Dead and Phish, nomadic touring hippies attend a growing series of summer festivals, the largest of which is called theBonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, which premiered in 2002. The Oregon Country Fair is a three-day festival featuring hand-made crafts, educational displays and costumed entertainment. The annual Starwood Festival, founded in 1981, is a seven-day event indicative of the spiritual quest of hippies through an exploration of non-mainstream religions and world-views, and has offered performances and classes by a variety of hippie and counter-culture icons.
“The ’60s were a leap in human consciousness. Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Che Guevara, they led a revolution of conscience. The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix created revolution and evolution themes. The music was like Dalí, with many colors and revolutionary ways. The youth of today must go there to find themselves.”
The Burning Man festival began in 1986 at a San Francisco beach party and is now held in the Black Rock Desert northeast of Reno, Nevada. Although few participants would accept the hippie label, Burning Man is a contemporary expression of alternative community in the same spirit as early hippie events. The gathering becomes a temporary city (36,500 occupants in 2005, 50,000+ in 2011), with elaborate encampments, displays, and many art cars. Other events that enjoy a large attendance include theRainbow Family Gatherings, The Gathering of the Vibes, Community Peace Festivals, and theWoodstock Festivals.
In the UK, there are many new age travellers who are known as hippies to outsiders, but prefer to call themselves the Peace Convoy. They started the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1974, but English Heritagelater banned the festival, resulting in the Battle of the Beanfield in 1985. With Stonehenge banned as a festival site, new age travellers gather at the annualGlastonbury Festival.
In New Zealand between 1976 and 1981 tens of thousands of hippies gathered from around the world on large farms around Waihi and Waikino for music and alternatives festivals. Named Nambassa, the festivals focused on peace, love, and a balanced lifestyle. The events featured practical workshops and displays advocating alternative lifestyles, self sufficiency, clean and sustainable energy and sustainable living.
In the UK and Europe, the years 1987 to 1989 were marked by a large-scale revival of many characteristics of the hippie movement. This later movement, composed mostly of people aged 18 to 25, adopted much of the original hippie philosophy of love, peace and freedom. The summer of 1988 became known as the Second Summer of Love. Although the music favored by this movement was modern electronic music, especially house music and acid house, one could often hear songs from the original hippie era in the chill out rooms at raves. In the UK, many of the well-known figures of this movement first lived communally in Stroud Green, an area of north London located in Finsbury Park.
Popular films depicting the hippie ethos and lifestyle include Woodstock, Easy Rider, Hair, The Doors, Across the Universe, Taking Woodstock, and Crumb.
In 2002, photojournalist John Bassett McCleary published a 650-page, 6,000-entry unabridged slang dictionarydevoted to the language of the hippies titled The Hippie Dictionary: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the 1960s and 1970s. The book was revised and expanded to 700 pages in 2004. McCleary believes that the hippie counterculture added a significant number of words to the English language by borrowing from the lexicon of the Beat Generation, through the hippies’ shortening of beatnik words and then popularizing their usage.
I often wish I had been born just 3 or 4 years earlier! I was only 10 when the hippy movement really kicked off.
Hi NatureGirl, I was born in the era…that’s why my full name is Paul John George Ringo Murray!