“LIKE A NATURE’S TRUE CHILD, WE WERE BORN, BORN TO BE WILD” : HIPPIE SUBCULTURE

In the society in which we dwell in,a certain culture is followed. Within the cultural frame there exists several subcultures or “A group having social, economic, ethnic, or other traits distinctive enough to distinguish it from others within the same culture or society” [1]. The existence of several subcultures have been present since time immemorial. They had their own way of life and followed ideologies that were evidently different from the mainstream culture. One of the most talked about subcultures were the Hippies.

It came into existence during the 1960s as a countercultural movement which did not believe in the usual American way of living. The formation of this subculture sprang among the youth of the country primarily college campuses. It was formed as an act of rebellion against the American government for their participation in the Vietnamese War in the mid-1950s [2].

Several ideals of the hippies were built in opposition to the existing mainstream beliefs of that time. They disliked the materialistic driven society. They believed in expanding their horizon and perspective in life, a majority of hippies were not as ambitious and chose alternative careers from mainstream society. Hippies did not believe in nuclear families and many of them took to communal or cooperative living arrangements. They practiced open sexual relationship and promoted freedom from the repression that existed in society. The subculture wanted to be as close to nature as possible which was reflected in their vegetarian diets devoid of chemical processing. Disturbed by the destruction of war, the hippies advocated nonviolence and love. Even till today’s date the popular phrase “Make love, not war” exists because of the Hippies movement. They strongly believed that hallucinogenic drugs were a means of widening the consciousness and taking them to the unknown. Psychedelic drugs like marijuana & LSD were quite popular among the hippies. They avoided drugs such as heroin and amphetamines which were taken as harmful and addictive, something which not everyone is aware of [2][3] .The values hippies truly believed in were happiness, mysticism and altruism (Time Magazine, 1967).

The Hippie way of dressing is popular even today among teenagers. They would wear clothes that defined themselves and defied society. They would wear loud colours, faded clothes, tie-dyed t-shirt, sandals, beaded jewelry to mark themselves apart. Against the concept of commercialization they would purchase their clothing from flea markets or buy second hand stores [3] .  The colour schemes in their clothing would be psychedelic similar to those when they were high. Women would keep long,flowy and casual tresses. They would wear long flowing dresses along. Items common to both men and women were sandals, beaded jewelry and rimless granny glasses [2].

The Hippie culture imbibed music in their daily lives. They also advocated amateur singing and music; many had guitars that they would play for anyone who would listen. The biggest hippie festivals were Woodstock in 1969 and the Summer of Love in 1967 [4] .  Some of the popular musicians at that time of the hippie culture were Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, and Beatles. The rock music genre had become an anthem for the new youth culture. Various folk and blue musicians, artists gathered in fewer groups to make different genres like acid rock which was soon associated with the psychedelic experience [5].

Here are some visual elements which would further broaden your understanding on the subculture of the Hippie Movement.

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Fig No.1, 1960s, Paul B., Golden Gate park, Photograph, http://www.sixtiespix.com/iconic-be-ins-t.html, Accessed on 8 November 2014, 12:45 AM

The hippies were wanderers and frequent travelers.  In the above picture one can see a group of hippies gathered at the Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. This picture was shot during the earlier ‘Be-ins’ phase of the hippie movement. One can notice the men don long wild hairstyles, a few with bandanas. They are wearing chains with a pendant. The women can be seen loose wrapped fabric around their bodies. The hippies were non-believers of commercialization and would often shop from second hand stores, flea markets or practice DIY clothing [3].

2

Fig No. 2, 1960s, Paul B., Unnamed, Photograph, http://www.sixtiespix.com/iconic-protests-t.html, Accessed on 8 November, 1:30 AM

Hippies were synonymous to people who rebelled against existing cultural norms set in the backdrop of war. The mutual longing for peace is what united the hippies. Numerous strikes and protests were held over the decades.

This is a signature hippie look. One can instantly make out the woman is a hippie. She has long flowing tresses with lose long flowing dress. She has layered her look with a fringe overcoat. She is not wearing any makeup as they believed in all things natural.

4

¬ Fig No.4, n.d, Paul B., Photograph, Unnamed http://www.sixtiespix.com/iconic-general-t.html, Accessed on 8 November, 2:12 AM

Hippies believed in communal living and usually relied on each other for help. They would try on themselves and their immediate neighbors. This is a candid shot of a man who is getting his haircut. As you can see, he has an overgrown beard and hair. He is in his backyard which is evident through the fence.

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Fig No.5, Image courtesy: Buzzfeed

Hippies were believers of beauty and enjoyed spending their time outdoors. They were also known as ‘flower children’. They were very liberal and open minded in their approach to life and would often be seen naked. This was in stark contrast to the social code of conduct of the country at that time.  They were admirers of art and believed in all things beautiful come from nature itself. Nudity was embraced with open arms by the hippies. They believed in Paganism.

“Without stirring abroad,
One can know the whole world;
Without looking out of the window
One can see the way of heaven.
The further one goes
The less one knows.”

(Laozi, 1917, 69)


References:

  1. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 2009, Subculture, Online http://www.thefreedictionary.com/subculture, Accessed on 7 November 2014
  2. Britannica Encyclopedia, 2013, Hippie, Online http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/266600/hippie, Accessed on 7 November 2014
  3. Mortal Journey, n.d. , The 1960’s Hippie Counter Culture Movement, Online http://www.mortaljourney.com/2011/03/1960-trends/hippie-counter-culture-movement, Accessed on 7 November
  4. Claire Pokopac, n.d, Hippie Culture during the Summer of Love and Woodstock, Online http://blastfrompast.wikispaces.com/Hippie+Culture+during+the+Summer+of+Love+and+Woodstock, Accessed on 8 November 2014
  5. Britannic Encyclopedia, 2014, “Folk rock, the hippie movement, and “the rock paradox”, Online http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/506004/rock/93493/Folk-rock-the-hippie-movement-and-the-rock-paradox, Accessed on 8 November 2014
  6. BuzzFeed, 2012, 25 Groovy Trends Spotted From Woodstock Festival Street Style, Online http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/25-groovy-trends-spotted-from-woodstock-festival-s?sub=1753328_565443, Accessed 8 November 2014
  7. Skip Stone, n.d., Hippy Philosophy and the Hippy Dream, http://www.hipplanet.com/books/atoz/philosophy.htm, Accessed on 8 November 2014
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