A hippie (sometimes spelled hippy) is a member of the counterculture of the 1960s, originally a youth movement that began in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The word hippie came from hipster and was used to describe beatniks who moved into New York City's Greenwich Village and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. The term hippie first found popularity in San Francisco with Herb Caen, who was a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle.
The origins of the terms hip and hep are uncertain. By the 1940s, both had become part of African American jive slang and meant "sophisticated; currently fashionable; fully up-to-date". The Beats adopted the term hip, and early hippies inherited the language and countercultural values of the Beat Generation. Hippies created their own communities, listened to psychedelic music, embraced the sexual revolution, and many used drugs such as marijuana, LSD, and psilocybin mushrooms to explore altered states of consciousness.
In 1967, the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, and Monterey Pop Festival popularized hippie culture, leading to the 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, nomadic housetruckers practiced alternative lifestyles and promoted sustainable energy at Nambassa. In the United Kingdom in 1970, many gathered at the gigantic Isle of Wight Festival with a crowd of around 400,000 people. In later years, mobile "peace convoys" of New Age travelers made summer pilgrimages to free music festivals at Stonehenge and elsewhere. In Australia, hippies gathered at Nimbin for the 1973 Aquarius Festival and the annual Cannabis Law Reform Rally or MardiGrass. "Piedra Roja Festival", a major hippie event in Chile, was held in 1970. Hippie and psychedelic culture influenced 1960s and early 1970s young culture in Iron Curtain countries in Eastern Europe (see Mánička).
Hippie fashion and values had a major effect on culture, influencing popular music, television, film, literature, and the arts. Since the 1960s, mainstream society has assimilated many aspects of hippie culture. The religious and cultural diversity the hippies espoused has gained widespread acceptance, and their pop versions of Eastern philosophy and Asian spiritual concepts have reached a larger audience.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Ethos and characteristics
- 4 Legacy
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower, the principal American editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, argues that the terms hipster and hippie derive from the word hip, whose origins are unknown. The word hip in the sense of "aware, in the know" is first attested in a 1902 cartoon by Tad Dorgan, and first appeared in prose in a 1904 novel by George Vere Hobart (1867–1926), Jim Hickey: A Story of the One-Night Stands, where an African-American character uses the slang phrase "Are you hip?"
The term hipster was coined by Harry Gibson in 1944. By the 1940s, the terms hip, hep and hepcat were popular in Harlem jazz slang, although hep eventually came to denote an inferior status to hip. In Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, New York City, young counterculture advocates were named hips because they were considered "in the know" or "cool", as opposed to being square, meaning conventional and old-fashioned. In the April 27, 1961 issue of The Village Voice, "An open letter to JFK & Fidel Castro", Norman Mailer utilizes the term hippies, in questioning JFK's behavior. In a 1961 essay, Kenneth Rexroth used both the terms hipster and hippies to refer to young people participating in black American or Beatnik nightlife. According to Malcolm X's 1964 autobiography, the word hippie in 1940s Harlem had been used to describe a specific type of white man who "acted more Negro than Negroes". Andrew Loog Oldham refers to "all the Chicago hippies," seemingly in reference to black blues/R&B musicians, in his rear sleeve notes to the 1965 LP The Rolling Stones, Now!
The word hippie was also used in reference to Philadelphia in at least two popular songs in 1963: South Street by The Orlons, and You Can't Sit Down by The Dovells. In both songs, the term is applied to residents of Philadelphia's South Street.
Although the word hippies made other isolated appearances in print during the early 1960s, the first use of the term on the West Coast appeared in the article "A New Paradise for Beatniks" (in the San Francisco Examiner, issue of September 5, 1965) by San Francisco journalist Michael Fallon. In that article, Fallon wrote about the Blue Unicorn Cafe (coffeehouse) (located at 1927 Hayes Street in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco), 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 1968 Time magazine study on hippie philosophy credited the foundation of the hippie movement with historical precedent as far back as the sadhu of India, the spiritual seekers who had renounced the world and materialistic pursuits by taking "Sannyas". Even the counterculture of the Ancient Greeks, espoused by philosophers like Diogenes of Sinope and the cynics were also 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, and J.R.R. Tolkien.
The first signs of modern "proto-hippies" emerged in fin de siècle, turn of the century Europe. Late 1890s to early 1900s, 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 ("wandering bird"), the hippie movement opposed the formality of traditional German clubs, instead emphasizing folk music and singing, creative dress, and outdoor life involving hiking and camping. Inspired by the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Goethe, and Hermann Hesse, 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 German youth culture. Some opened the first health food stores, and many moved to southern California where they introduced an alternative lifestyle. 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. And German nudism influenced 60s US hippie such as Woodstock rock fan.
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. In 1968, self-described hippies represented just under 0.2% of the U.S. population and dwindled away by mid-1970s.
Along with the New Left and the 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.
1958–1966: Early hippies
During the late 1950s and 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/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 cannabis, amphetamine, and LSD, and during their journey they "turned on" many people to these drugs. The Merry Pranksters filmed and audio taped 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". In 1961, Vito Paulekas and his wife Szou established in Hollywood a clothing boutique which was credited with being one of the first to introduce "hippie" fashions.
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 – 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.
Bob Stubbs, "Unicorn Philosophy"
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. Gleason put 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 the Grateful Dead all moved to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood during this period. Activity centered around the Diggers, a guerrilla street theatre group that combined spontaneous street theatre, anarchistic action, and art happenings in their agenda to create a "free city". By late 1966, the Diggers 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.
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."
The Sunset Strip curfew riots, also known as the "hippie riots", were a series of early counterculture-era clashes that took place between police and young people on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California, in 1966 and continuing on and off through the early 1970s. In 1966, annoyed residents and business owners in the district had encouraged the passage of strict (10:00 p.m.) curfew and loitering laws to reduce the traffic congestion resulting from crowds of young club patrons. This was perceived by young, local rock music fans as an infringement on their civil rights, and on Saturday, November 12, 1966, fliers were distributed along the Strip inviting people to demonstrate later that day. Hours before the protest one of L.A's rock 'n' roll radio stations announced there would be a rally at Pandora's Box, a club at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights, and cautioned people to tread carefully. The Los Angeles Times reported that as many as 1,000 youthful demonstrators, including such celebrities as Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda (who was afterward handcuffed by police), erupted in protest against the perceived repressive enforcement of these recently invoked curfew laws. This incident provided the basis for the 1967 low-budget teen exploitation film Riot on Sunset Strip, and inspired multiple songs including the famous Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth".
1967: Summer of Love
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), and Jefferson 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.
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 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 cannabis and LSD use, sex and wild psychedelic parties. Examples include The Love-ins, Psych-Out, The Trip, and Wild in the Streets. Other more serious and more critically acclaimed films about the hippie counterculture also appeared such as Easy Rider and Alice's Restaurant. (See also: 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. The popular Broadway musical Hair was presented in 1967.
People commonly label other cultural movements of that period as hippie, however there are differences. For example, hippies were often not directly engaged in politics, as contrasted with "Yippies" (Youth International Party), an activist organization. The Yippies came to national attention during their celebration of the 1968 spring equinox, when some 3,000 of them took over Grand 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 the US the Hippie movement started to be seen as part of the "New Left" which was associated with anti-war college campus protest movements. The New Left was a term used mainly in the United Kingdom and United States in reference to activists, educators, agitators and others in the 1960s and 1970s who sought to implement a broad range of reforms on issues such as gay rights, abortion, gender roles and drugs in contrast to earlier leftist or Marxist movements that had taken a more vanguardist approach to social justice and focused mostly on labor unionization and questions of social class.
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, Sly & The Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi 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 45 km (30 miles ) 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 by one of the Hells Angels 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 at Altamont 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", a song that protested the Kent State massacre, 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 British Isle of Wight Festival in 1968 became the norm, evolving into stadium rock in the process. The anti-war movement reached its peak at the 1971 May Day Protests as over 12,000 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 1973. During 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 skinheads. Hippies were also vilified and sometimes attacked by punks, revivalist mods, greasers, football casuals, Teddy boys, metalheads, rockers, rednecks, rude boys, gangsters, and members of other youth subcultures of the 1970s and 1980s in both North America and Europe. 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.
Hippie communes, where members tried to live the ideals of the hippie movement, continued to flourish. On the west coast, Oregon had quite a few.
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.
Ethos and characteristics
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The bohemian predecessor of the hippie culture in San Francisco was the "Beat Generation" style of coffee houses and bars, whose clientele appreciated literature, a game of chess, music (in the forms of jazz and folk style), modern dance, and traditional crafts and arts like pottery and painting." The entire tone of the new subculture was different. "Jon McIntire, manager of the Grateful Dead from the late sixties to the mid-eighties, points out that the great contribution of the hippie culture was this projection of joy. The beatnik thing was black, cynical, and cold." 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 that hippies tend to be associated with are "altruism and mysticism, 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 or she was—especially after outright criminals such as Charles Manson began to adopt superficial hippie characteristics, and also after plainclothes policemen started to "dress like hippies" to divide and conquer legitimate members of the counterculture. Frank Zappa, known for lampooning hippie ethos, particularly with songs like "Who Needs the Peace Corps?" (1968), 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. Posters for concerts in the Fillmore West, a concert auditorium in San Francisco, popular with Hippie audiences, 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 roughly the years 1966 to 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 slide shows and film loops to create an improvisational motion picture art form, and 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. Out of the psychedelic counterculture there 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 mirror up to the hippie 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, moccasins 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, African and Latin American motifs were also popular. Much 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. The bold colors, hand-made clothing and loose fitting clothes opposed the tight and uniform clothing of the 1940s and 1950s. It also rejected consumerism in that the hand-production of clothing called for self-efficiency and individuality.
Love and sex
The common stereotype on the issues of love and sex had it that the hippies were "promiscuous, having wild sex orgies, seducing innocent teenagers and every manner of sexual perversion." The hippie movement appeared concurrently in the midst of a rising sexual revolution, in which many views of the status quo on this subject were being challenged.
The clinical study Human Sexual Response was published by Masters and Johnson in 1966, and the topic suddenly became more commonplace in America. The 1969 book Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) by psychiatrist David Reuben was a more popular attempt at answering the public's curiosity regarding such matters. Then in 1972 appeared The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort, reflecting an even more candid perception of love-making. By this time, the recreational or 'fun' aspects of sexual behavior were being discussed more openly than ever before, and this more 'enlightened' outlook resulted not just from the publication of such new books as these, but from a more pervasive sexual revolution that had already been well underway for some time.
The hippies inherited various countercultural views and practices regarding sex and love from the Beat Generation; "their writings influenced the hippies to open up when it came to sex, and to experiment without guilt or jealousy." One popular hippie slogan that appeared was "If it feels good, do it!" which for many "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; under the influence of drugs, all the taboos went out the window. This doesn't mean that straight sex or monogamy were 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 the radical social reformers of other eras; it was accordingly observed that "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." Sexual experimentation alongside psychedelics also occurred, due to the perception of their being uninhibitors. Others explored the spiritual aspects of sex.
Hippies tended to travel light, and could pick up and go wherever the action was at any time. Whether at a "love-in" on Mount 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 greater 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 Rainbow Family groups, new age travellers and New Zealand's housetruckers.
A derivative of this free-flow style of travel were the hippie trucks and buses, hand-crafted mobile houses built on a 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 attended 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 between 400,000 and 500,000 people.
One travel experience, undertaken by hundreds of thousands of hippies between 1969 and 1971, was the Hippie trail overland 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 the tranquil surroundings 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. Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism often resonated with hippies, as they were seen as less rule-bound, and less likely to be associated with existing baggage. Some hippies embraced neo-paganism, especially Wicca. Others were involved with the occult, with people like Timothy Leary citing Aleister Crowley as influences. By the 1960s, western interest in Hindu spirituality and yoga reached its peak, giving rise to a great number of Neo-Hindu schools specifically advocated to a western public.
In his 1991 book, "Hippies and American Values", Timothy Miller described 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 outgrew 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."
Timothy Leary was an American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs. On September 19, 1966, Leary founded the League for Spiritual Discovery, a religion declaring LSD as its holy sacrament, in part as an unsuccessful attempt to maintain legal status for the use of LSD and other psychedelics for the religion's adherents based on a "freedom of religion" argument. The Psychedelic Experience was the inspiration for John Lennon's song "Tomorrow Never Knows" in The Beatles' album Revolver. He published a pamphlet in 1967 called Start Your Own Religion to encourage just that and was invited to attend the January 14, 1967 Human Be-In a gathering of 30,000 hippies in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park In speaking to the group, he coined the famous phrase "Turn on, tune in, drop out". The English magician Aleister Crowley became an influential icon to the new alternative spiritual movements of the decade as well as for rock musicians. The Beatles included him as one of the many figures on the cover sleeve of their 1967 album