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The Summer of Love proved to be one of the most euphoric moments of the 20th century.
One hundred thousand young people flocked to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. This was a safe space for the next generation looking to rebel against cultural and political standards.
Congregations were happening all over America and the rest of the world, but San Francisco was the hub for the hippie revolution: psychedelic drugs, a giant push forward in musical innovation, sexual liberation, and opposition to war came together to cohesively give an unspoken voice a true platform. The movement became one of the most defining moments of the ‘60s, capturing the attention of people across the globe.
College and high-school kids descended on the neighbourhood in droves. City officials tried to make announcements that those looking to attend would not be let in, but this only brought more attention to the event. That spring, community leaders of Haight formed the Council of the Summer of Love, giving the word-of-mouth event an official name once and for all.
"San Francisco was the hub for the hippie revolution: psychedelic drugs, musical innovation, sexual liberation, and opposition to war came together to give a voiceless generation a true platform to be heard."
Along with organizing the cultural attractions, the council sought to alleviate some of the anticipated problems, like sanitation, housing, and potential crime in the neighbourhood. An underground publication, the San Francisco Oracle, helped legitimatize the movement and enforced the feel of a “for the people, by the people” community.
The media's fascination with the "counterculture" came to a peak with the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967: approximately 30,000 people gathered for the first day of the music festival, with the number swelling to 60,000 on the final day. John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas wrote a song called "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" designed to promote and attract people to the Monterey Pop Festival. It became one of the most recognized songs of the era. Not only did the song promote the event, but San Francisco and the neighbouring areas of California as a whole. The festival hosted the first major American appearance for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who and Ravi Shankar, and was also the first large-scale performance by Janis Joplin (with Big Brother and the Holding Company.) Otis Redding, The Byrds, and the Grateful Dead were also present. Tickets cost anywhere from $3 to $6.50. The utopia vibes of the festival would prove to be an inspiration for Woodstock 1969 following two years later.
The participants who flew in across the globe to attend brought their fashion, music and political influence back home, which helped the culture spread like wildfire.
By the time October 6, 1967, rolled around, the numbers had significantly dwindled, and the few remaining hippies in the Haight staged a mock funeral. "The Death of the Hippie" ceremony cemented the end of an iconic summer (that bled into autumn.)
Fifty years later, the Monterey International Pop Festival celebrates the legacy of the Summer of Love, including performances by Ravi Shankar’s daughter Norah Jones and Phil Lesh of the Greatful Dead back on-stage. Contemporary acts like Father John Misty and Gary Clark Jr. joined the line-up too, bringing the festival into the 21st century.