Grateful Dead And The San Francisco Hippie Movement
The year was 1967 and you can say that love was in the air.
“The Summer of Love” is what comes to mind when people think of 1967. The hippie movement was growing as more and more americans embraced their unconventional values including sex and drugs. The epicenter could be found in San Francisco, California. Believe it or not people traveled from across the United States and even Europe to make their way to San Francisco.
It all began with the Human Be-In rally held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The rally communicated ideas of the 60s counterculture such as cultural and political decentralization, personal empowerment, dropping out, and ecological awareness. Why was this even held in San Francisco in the first place? Well, this hippie movement came about from the disatisfaction of student communities around the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University. Thousands showed up resulting into the unification of young adults.
The hippie movement in San Francisco cannot be talked about without discussing the headquarters of the movement, the Haight-Ashbury district. Here students gathered to be with their fellow hippies celebrating the counterculture. It is said that over 100,000 young people made their way to the Haight-Ashbury district in the summer of 1967. Word on the street is this mass migration lead the title of “Summer of Love” in hopes of putting a positive spin on the free thinking, love making, drug taking hippie culture.
Originally known as Warlocks, The Grateful Dead came on the scene by being part of Ken Kesey’s Acid Test parties. Kesey’s parties included his possy the Merry Pranksters and featured among others The Grateful Dead as the house band. These parties allowed the public to experiment with LSD (which was not only legal at the time but also free thanks to Kesey) and enjoy music, dancing, and of course strobe lights. Everything about the hippie movement was embraced at these parties.
The Grateful Dead were also apart of the Trips Festival thanks to Kesey. It was a three night rock n’ roll fest held at Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco’s North Beach. Of course there was also free access to LSD because it wouldn’t be a Kesey party if there weren’t. More than 6,000 attended this festival gaining more traction for the overall movement. The Grateful Dead continued to be part of this movement with their participation in the Gathering of the Tribes a.k.a. The Human Be-In rally.
In order to play such a monumental role in this movement The Grateful Dead had to be located nearby. They lived and breathed the San Francisco Hippie Movement because they lived in the heart of it, the Haight-Ashbury district. 710 Ashbury Street is exactly where The Grateful Dead resided. I think this proved them to be more authentic because they were living amongst their fellow hippies. It was also probably convenient to be living in an area where you could easily buy LSD and marijuana because there was a local Psychedelic Shop. Eventually the Haight-Ashbury district became overcrowded and homelessness and drug related health issues became a problem that would slowly bring an end to the heart of the San Francisco Hippie Movement.
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