The Summer of Love
Story by Roger Childs, photos by Pam Childs
If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. John Phillips and Scott McKenzie 1967
Over 100,000 young people descended on San Francisco fifty years ago. However, what became known as the Summer of Love actually began in the winter month of January when an estimated 40,000 met in Golden Gate Park for A Gathering of the Tribes.
This was designed to bring together disparate radical political groups and bohemians who made up the counter-culture which would make San Francisco famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view.
As the year unfolded the tide of revolutionary change quickened as social, political and cultural norms were challenged and upended.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary, San Francisco’s iconic de Young Museum, appropriately located in the centre of Golden Gate Park, is currently featuring a major multi-media exhibition. The Summer of Love Experience runs from April to August.
The world would never be the same again
The counterculture touched every facet of American society, offering alternative to the mainstream that still flourish today.
In areas such as Haight-Ashbury, Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach thousands got together to play music, talk about issues, listen to concerts, smoke pot and take other drugs, and generally have a good time.
The Summer of Love ushered in a revolution in music, fashion, art, textiles, technology, printing, posters, lighting and film. Music groups like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and The Charlatans performed to huge audiences.
The conventional mores at all levels were challenged, and protest movements arose against gender inequality and laws that restricted freedom of action and expression.
Social activism led to the rapid growth of causes related to women’s rights, environmental protection, organic food and civil rights.
Not surprisingly, there was a vigorous campaign against the Vietnam War and an iconic anti-draft poster showed three impeccably dressed, young women on a couch, with the caption
GIRLS SAY YES
to boys who say NO.
Influences on the cultural upheaval
The hippies are eclectic: they draw their ideas from everywhere. Thomas Albright
The musicians, writers, designers, inventors and publicists drew on a variety of art movements, philosophies and ideas.
~ Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism provided spiritual inspiration
~ elements of Surrealism, Art Nouveau, Pop and Art were interweaved into visual expression
~ Native American iconography featured in the creation of new fashion styles.
It was a time of freedom and experimentation in developing different types of printing; means of communicating; the way colour was melded in posters and art; the use of lighting at concerts; and applying different textile combinations in designing clothing and footwear.
Customised jeans, tie-dye clothing, psychedelic lighting and gaudy posters were just some of the many elements which evolved in the late 1960s and impacted around the world.
Badges of the time
~ LSD The Only Way to Fly
~ Love makes it happen
~ BE NICE TO EACH OTHER
~ DON’T TRUST ANYONE OVER 30
~ LOVE IS A FOUR LETTER WORD
~ I’M FROM BERKELEY BUT I’M NOT REVOLTING
~WANT COLOR TV? TRY LSD
~ FLOWER POWER
~ I’M A VIETNAM DROPOUT
~LET’S GET NAKED AND SMOKE
~ EQUAL RIGHTS
~ I Don’t Want TO PLAY WAR
The The Summer of Love exhibition is brilliant. It’s worth descending on San Francisco to experience it and you don’t need to have a flower in your hair.