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The 1960's Hippies

Who Were the Hippies

1960's hippy Hippie, occasionally spelled hippy, refers to a subgroup of the 1960s counterculture lifestyle that began in the United States, becoming an established social group by 1965 before declining in the 1970s. Hippies, along with the New Left and the civil rights movement, are considered the three dissenting groups of the 1960s counterculture movement.

Hippies were part of a youth movement, composed mostly of white teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 and 25 years-old.  Inheriting a tradition of cultural dissent from the bohemians and the beatniks, hippies rebelled against established institutions, criticized middle class values, opposed the Vietnam War, embraced aspects of non-Judeo-Christian religions, promoted sexual liberation, and created intentional communities, leading some to describe hippies as a new religious movement. Hippies were against "political and social orthodoxy", choosing a "gentle and nondoctrinaire" politics that favored "peace, love, and personal freedom."

Hippies perceived the dominant culture as a corrupt, monolithic entity that exercised undue power over their lives. They often called this culture "The Establishment," "Big Brother," or "The Man." Hippie opposition to the Establishment spread around the world through a fusion of early rock, folk, blues and psychedelic rock, with the dramatic arts and the visual arts in tow.

Origin of the word "Hippy"

Reminiscing about late 1940s Harlem in his 1964 autobiography, Malcolm X referred to the word hippy as a term African Americans used to describe a specific type of white man who "acted more Negro than Negroes."

The term hipster was coined by Harry Gibson and Eddie Choe in 1940, and used by the American Beat generation during the 1940s and 1950s to describe jazz and swing music performers. The word evolved to describe bohemian counterculture.

In 1963, British band The Swinging Blue Jeans released the song "Hippy Hippy Shake", which rose to #2 in the British charts and #24 in the US. This song was originally recorded in 1959 by Chan Romero.

On the east coast of the U.S. in Greenwich Village, young counterculture advocates were named hips. At that time, to be hip meant to be "in the know" or "cool", as opposed to being called a stodgy "square". Disaffected youth from the suburbs of New York City flocked to Village coffeehouses in their oldest clothes to fit into the counterculture.

On 5 September 1965, the first use of the word hippie appeared in print. In an article entitled "A New Haven for Beatniks," San Francisco journalist Michael 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. Fallon reportedly came up with the name by condensing Norman Mailer's use of the word, "hipster" into "hippie".  The name did not catch on in the mass media until almost two years later, after San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen began using the term hippies in his daily columns.


The earliest San Francisco hippies were former students at San Francisco State College (later renamed San Francisco State University) who had "dropped out" after they started taking psychedelic drugs and began living communally in the large, inexpensive Victorian apartments in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Young Americans around the country began moving to San Francisco, and by June, 1966, around 15,000 hippies had moved into the Haight.

A map of Haight & Ashbury St, San Francisco, CA 94117. Click to see the map on MSN Maps & Directions



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