The Counterculture of the 1960s
The 1960s were a decade of enormous social change. In many respects, the unpopular and misunderstood Vietnam War served as the catalyst for a counterculture movement where young people openly questioned the status quo and decisions made by older generations. The birth control pill, which was introduced in 1960, gained popularity as well, leading to a sexual revolution and a change in lifestyle for many. By 1973, about 10 million women were using the “pill.”
Some of those who dropped out of traditional society were called “hippies,” and they gravitated to areas such as the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco. They became known as “flower children” because they believed that utopia was found in nature.
When was “the Summer of Love”?
The Summer of Love refers to the summer of 1967, when thousands of young people traveled to San Francisco from all over the world and the hippie counterculture movement came into public awareness. The Human Be-In (modeled on the sit-in) in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is said to have started the Summer of Love.
In August of 1969, more than 300,000 young people gathered at Max Yasgur's dairy farm in the small Catskills town of Bethel, New York, for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Youth also experimented with mind-altering, illegal drugs such as LSD. The movement found its expression in alternative newspapers such as the
More Sixties Pop Culture
From movies such as
Comedies and talk shows aired at night, and the networks broadcast events such as man's landing on the moon. Space exploration of the fictional variety could be seen with the starship Enterprise, as the show Star Trek launched in 1966 with characters Captain James Kirk and Mr. Spock.
As the 1960s continued, folk music carried with it songs of protest with a sense of growing militancy against the war in Vietnam. Peter, Paul, and Mary, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan caught on with their music and their message. But there was also more traditional music. In 1966,
In sports, U.S. boxer Cassius Clay, who would later be known as Muhammad Ali, won the world heavyweight title. Andy Warhol startled the art world with pop art, a whole new style evident in images of Campbell's soup cans. And in the 1960s, being fashionable meant wearing false eyelashes, Vidal Sassoon hairstyles, and miniskirts as the rail-thin model Twiggy displayed so well. Knee- or thigh-high boots completed the fashion ensemble.