Hippie History

Hippie History - Hippy-BusHere at Mystical Mayhem hippy clothing, we feel that hippie history is actually rather important and fascinating to learn about therefore, we wanted to share with you what we have learnt over the years by talking to old hippies and good old fashioned research. Here is where we will tell you how the term hippy came about and what it meant in the 60’s. Also, what it means in today’s society. Much has changed!

The hippie subculture originated in the states and was originally a youth movement. This movement was controversial and was soon followed around the globe.
The term hippie actually comes from the word hipster which was a derogatory and harsh term to describe beatniks. The movement of the people started and communities were created.  These communities, were full of ‘hippies’ who spent their day’s listening to music, embraced sexuality and explored altered states of consciousness by using drugs such as LSD, magic mushrooms and Cannabis.

Hippies around the globe

The hippy way was fast becoming popular however, it became even more so in 1967 when San Francisco hosted the Human Be-In held in Golden Gate Park. The Human Be-In was in response to a new law passed by Californian government making LSD illegal. This event saw many amazing band and comedians. Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and Timothy Leary – just to name a few. Boy did this create a stir. Events like the Human Be-In led to others such as the legendary Summer of Love on the West Coast and the  1969 Woodstock Festival on the East Coast.  It didn’t just stay in the states,the movement spread to almost all corners of the globe.

In Mexico, jipitecas formed La Onda which was an artistic movement. Promoting poetry and art.
In New Zealand, houstruckers practices alternative lifestyles by fixing up old trucks and school buses tuning them into homes. These homes travelled to Nambassa between the years of  1976 and 1971. Nambassa was a series of festivals held on large farms around Waikino and Waihi.
Aussie hippy’s gathered at the 1973 Aquarius festival and the annual Cannabis Law Reform rallies.
In the UK there were free music festivals held at our beloved Stonehenge and so, peace convoys in hippy busses made summer pilgrimages to these events each year.


It is said that the hippy movement started in the late 60’s by young students disgruntled with society however, the first signs of ‘hippies’ came about between 1896 and 1908. It seems like Germany Hippie History 'Peace Love Yoga' Handmade Wooden Plaquewas where it first stared. The movement arose from a youth reaction to organised social and cultural clubs. The movement known as Der Wandervogel which translated to Migratory Bird, opposed these clubs. Energies went into emphasising creative dress, amateur singing and musics. Communal outings were promoted such as hiking and camping. Social groups, people coming together, sharing ideas and being free to celebrate and enjoy life as they chose – doing the opposite of those in mainstream society..

Wandervogel attracted so many young Germans, thousand in fact. These young hippy folk rejected the urbanisation and yearned for the pagan life of their ancestors. Back to nature and simple living was what they wanted. The first several decades of the 20th century saw Germans settle around the US taking their Wandervogel  values and also the way of life with them.

Over time many young Americans adopted the lifestyle. They visited the heath food shops that had been opened by the new settlers and, in addition were tempted into becomming firm believers in the alternative lifestyle.
Health consciousness, organic foods and even yoga became popularised between the groups.
It took until 1965 for hippies to become an established social group across the globe. The culture spread worldwide, fast! Fusions of rock music, expressions in art and literature, fashion and also film were a huge part of life. Previously unknown and possibly unpopular bands became well known. The Beatles, Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival and many others were all influenced by the movement and of course, each other.

Whatever the origins, consequently it became a huge worldwide movement.

Characteristics & Ethos

Seeking to free themselves from the restrictions of society, the hippy society found their own way of being, finding new meaning in life because they did not want to follow the same path and be the same as everyone else. One typical expression to show their difference from society was in the way that they dressed. This meant that they were instantly recognisable to one another. This striking take on appearance was a symbol of their respect of individuality.
There are many personality traits associated with they way of life however, some of the main ones include, honesty, love, joy, altruism and a huge respect for peace and non violence.

Hippy Fashion

Hippie History - Tie Dye Hippy Clothing The hippy clothing fashion and their values had a huge effect on culture. From television, pop music, film, literature and art, the influence was clear. Since the ordinal movement in the 60’s, so many aspect of the hippie culture have been absorbed and taken in by main stream society. Averse to most things mainstream, clothing was adapted to make them more unique and different to what everyone else was wearing. Clothing would be dyed in various colours – tie dye was very popular. Patches and badges would be sewn onto clothing.

Hippy chicks would wear brightly coloured clothing that would be at times rather revealing and at other times long and flowing dresses would be worn. The men would wear shirts with large sleeves and waistcoats or often in warmer day, they would be bare chested soaking in the rays. Anything went really. Anything that showed their defiance of the corporate culture. They would wear whatever they were comfortable in. Hippy clothing was born. Something that little bit different..
Some of the most iconic pieces of hippy festival clothing that most people recall are bell-bottomed flares. Due to the fact you don’t see them often, you can understand why people think that they no longer exist however, they do. As much as we love them, the bell bottom part is a little subtler these days.

Hippy Timeline

Early Hippies (1960-1965)

In the early 1960’s Greenwich Village in New York City alongside Berkeley  California were huge advocates of the American folk music scene. Berkeley had 2 coffee houses that would only sponsor performances by folk music artists. This created a kind pf family setting. This family experimented in drugs and various ritualistic ceremonies with traditional Native American values.

Around the same time, The Merry Pranksters, at the wheel of a school bus travelled the US to visit the 1964 work fair in New York City. Known for using LSD, Amphetamines and Marijuana, they introduced these drugs to many on their travels. The trips were filmed and audio taped which  made for some interesting screen time. They gathered many followers, many of whom wanted to travel with them on their bus. The Grateful Dead even wrote a song about their bus trip “That’s It For The Other One”

During the summer of 65 – Laughing who was the co founder of one of the coffee houses in Berkeley recruited many talented bands who with help created “The Red Dog Experience”. Said experience was held in The Reg Dog Saloon in Virginia City. A new sense of community was created with its psychedelic experimentation, music, outrageous light shows . There was no clear line on who the performers or the audience were. Everyone was having an amazing time.  Those attending were your proto hippies, long hair, big boots and hippy clothing. The manufacturer of LSD, Owsley Stanley, lived in Berkeley at this time and so he provided much of the drug that became a seminal part of The Red Dog Experience.

Early Hippies (1964-1965)

A collective was created from those who has been participated in the experience. The collective was called “The Family Dog”. A series of similar experiences popped up around the US created by The Family Dog and they even hosted San Francisco’s first every psychedelic rock show.  The Trips Festival was a great held by The Family Dog. Held at San Francisco’s Longshoreman’s Hall it ran from January 21–January 23, 1966 with 10,000 people attending. Each day an additional 1,000 were turned away.
On the Saturday the Grateful Dead came on stage and were watched by 6,000 people who had been drinking LSD spiked punch. They witness the best light show which was one of the first fully developed light shows of the era.

By June 1966 15,000 hippies including the like of The Charlatans, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead had all moved to the Haight-Ashbury district in San Fran.  The hippy City.
There was a street theatre group called the Diggers who were trying to create a free city.  From the proceeds they made they opened up free stores. These free stores simply gave everything away for free. So, they gave away free food, free money, free drugs and organised free music concerts. However good it seemed it seemed from the outside, everyone thought it was better!

On the 6th of October 1966, the state of California declared LSD a controlled substance. In conclusion, this meant that t became illegal. Rallies were staged to show that although it was now illegal, the people that used LSD were not bad people. They were not criminals, nor were they mentally ill like the rest of the population seemed to think.

Summer of Love (1967)

The start of the Summer of Love was marked by the Monterey Pop Festival which was ran from June 16 to June 17. It introduced rock music to a wider audience. The lyrics from John Phillips’ song San Francisco inspired people from all over the world to travel to the city. It was possibly the lyrics “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”. These travellers would wear flowers in their hair, promote peace and love and would sometimes hand flowers out to passersby. These acts earned them the name of “Flower Children”

It was said that over 100,000 people travelled to San Francisco during the summer of 67. Time magazine wrote an article on the hippie subculture and described the guidelines of the hippy code as “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.”

Thanks to the Times, attention increased 100 fold and hippies found such support for their ideals of love and peace. At the same time however, they were also heavily criticised for their pro drug ethos.

Hippie History - Death of HippieThe demise of the Haight-Ashbury District

This year was also the year that the Beatles released their iconic Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album which featured  its colourful and psychedelic imagery. The album and the band were soon embraced by the hippy movement.

Unfortunately the Haight-Ashbury district could not cope with the influx of of crowds with no place to live and so, this led to the districts demise. Many youngsters took to living on the streets taking up drug dealing. The hippie movement left. By the end of the year many of the hippies and musicians had moved on.

George Harrison visited the district and found it to be a haven for druggies and drop outs. Subsequently this led to him giving up LSD.
This is possibly where the misgivings about hippies started to come into play and which is why as much as many loved the movement, many started to detest it.

Revolution (1967-1969)

By 1968 hippy clothing fashion was taking off all over. As well as the hippie clothing, long hair in men became very popular.  This translated into film and art too. Fortunately, it was not translated well into film. Hippies were often depicted as drug crazed loonies living in communes, corrupting your children and leading them astray. What help was there. Hollywood were all over it hence the movies produced.

In April 1969 the People’s Park in Berkeley was created. This created lots of media attention. Why? Well, The University of California demolished all buildings on its 2.8 acre plot and planned to build playing fields and a parking lot. This did not go down well.

So, as the plot became a dangerous eyesore, hippy’s and thousands of Berkeley’s residents too matters into their own hands. The converted the land into a park all because they planted shrubs, trees and flowers. Governor Ronald Reagan demanded the park be destroyed in May of 1969.  Flower power really came into its own at this point as hippies went around planting flowers in empty lots all over Berkeley  under the slogan “Let a Thousand Parks Bloom”.

August 1969 saw 500,000 turn up for the Woodstock festival. The most noteworthy bands that played were amongst the most popular of the era; Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Carlos Santana, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix. So many amazing bands! It seems like all of the best musicians of the time attended.

The Aftershocks (1970 – Present day)

By the 1970’s it seemed like the hippy culture was n the wane. There was a stabbing at a festival in 1969 that shocked the public including all of those who were part of the alternative scenes. Pair that shock with that of the pure horror of the murders committed by Charles Manson and his “family”.

By mid 1970’s the hippy style has been somewhat integrated into the mainstream society. Rock concerts and festivals like the original 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and the 1968 Isle of Wight Festival became the norm, therefore being accepted into society.

May 1971 saw the anti war movement reach its peak. 40,000 protesters were arrested in Washington DC.  During these protests President Nixon actually ventured out of the White House to speak with the protesters. there draft was ended soon thereafter 1972. The flower children used to attend protests passing out flowers and even stopping in front of the soldiers at the barricades putting flowers down the barrels of their guns.

Although not as visible to society as it once was – the hippy culture never dies out completely and is still going strong. However us hippy’s are viewed, we stay strong in our beliefs. We have been about since he 1800’s and will be around for a long time yet. In conclusion – are are not going anywhere!