Hippies (singular hippie or sometimes hippy) were members of the 1960s counterculture movement who adopted a communal or nomadic lifestyle, renounced corporate nationalism and the Vietnam War, embraced aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism, and/or Native American religious culture, and were otherwise at odds with traditional middle class Western values. They saw paternalistic government, corporate industry, and traditional social mores as part of a unified establishment that had no authentic legitimacy.
The term derived from 'hipster', which referred to white people in the US who were 'hip' or became involved with black culture, e.g. Harry "The Hipster" Gibson. September 6, 1965, marked the first San Francisco newspaper story, by Michael Fellon, that used the word 'hippie' to refer to younger bohemians (as opposed to the older Beat Generation). The name did not catch on with the establishment press until almost two years later.
The hippie movement reached its height in the late 1960s, as evidenced by the July 7, 1967 issue of TIME magazine, which had for its cover story: 'The Hippies: The Philosophy of a Subculture.'
The touristic influx that accompanied the highly-publicized San Francisco Summer of Love did nothing to intensify counterculture. In fact, by the time Hippiedom became commercialized, mid-late 1967, being a hippie had lost its real purpose. The people responsible for the Summer of Love held a "Funeral for Hippie" at the end of the summer. The last publication of the Diggers was the anthology of street news, manifestoes and articles titled The Digger Papers, that came out in August 1968. Co-published as an edition of The Realist , the Diggers distributed 40,000 free copies.
By 1970, much of hippie style, but little of its substance, had passed into mainstream culture. The mainstream press lost interest in the hippie subculture as such, though many hippies made and have since continued to maintain a long-term commitment to their lifestyle. Because the hippies have tended to avoid publicity since the Summer of Love/Woodstock era, a popular myth has arisen that they no longer exist. In fact, they may still be found in Bohemian (or merely open-minded) enclaves throughout the world, as wanderers following the bands they love, or elsewhere in the interstices of the global economy. Many have rendevoused annually at Rainbow Gatherings since the early 1970s to celebrate and pray for peace.
As a group, hippies tend to have longer hair and more/fuller beards than has been generally fashionable. Both male and female African-Americans (and a few Caucasians also possessing "natty" hair) associated with the 1960s counterculture (and the parallel civil rights movement) wore their hair in "afros." Dreadlocks are another type of hairstyle that has been worn, although almost exclusively among "neo-hippies" (see below). Some people not associated with the counterculture find such long hair offensive because of the iconoclastic attitude it bespeaks; they may see it as unhygienic, frivolous, or feminine or it may offend simply because it violates traditional cultural expectations. When Hair moved from off-Broadway to a large Broadway theater in 1968, the hippie counterculture was already diversifying and fleeing traditional urban settings.
Other traits associated with hippies include:
- Bright-colored clothing, and certain unusual styles (such as bell-bottom pants, tie-dyed shirts, peasant blouses, and Indian-inspired clothing)
- Listening to certain styles of music; psychedelic rock such as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Sly & The Family Stone; modern jam band counterparts such as Phish, String Cheese Incident, moe., the Black Crowes, or Goa trance music.
- Performing music casually (often guitars), in friends' homes, or for free at outdoor fairs such as San Francisco's legendary "Human Be-In" of January 1967, Woodstock (a famous gathering attended mostly by hippies) and today, for example, the Burning Man festival or the Oregon Country Fair.
- Free love (see also: Sexual revolution).
- Communal living
- Some hippies used recreational drugs, particularly marijuana, hashish, and hallucinogens such as LSD and Psilocybin. Marijuana was prized for its iconoclastic, illicit nature as well as for its psychopharmaceutical effects. Although many hippies did not use drugs, drug use has become a stereotypical trait ascribed to hippies.
In hindsight, people may recall that hippies did not smoke cigarettes made of tobacco, and that they considered tobacco dangerous, but a look through photographs made at the time shows that cigarettes were very much in evidence. Evidently, although many hippies used drugs like LSD and marijuana, there were in fact hippies that were against the use of recreational drugs. This group of hippies tends to be overshadowed by the image of drug-using hippies.
Often, the term "hippie" is loosely used with the pejorative connotation of participation in recreational drug use (at least to the extent of using marijuana) and choosing not to think or care much about work, responsibility, the larger society, or personal hygiene.
Drugs were and still are considered a central theme in hippie culture.
Though they were a genuine counterculture movement, the early hippies were not particularly tolerant of homosexuality (although later, they became more and more tolerant). They were also prone to what some people would now deem highly unacceptable sexism. This changed rapidly as hippie culture embraced feminism and egalitarian principles.
The term is also associated with participation in peace movements, including peace marches such as the USA marches on Washington and civil rights marches, and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations including the 1968 Democratic Convention. The Yippies represented a highly politically active sub-group.
Hippie political expression often took the form of dropping out of society to implement the changes they sought. The back to the land movement, cooperative business enterprises, alternative energy, free press movement, and organic farming were all political in nature at their start.
Philosophically, hippie thought drew upon the earlier Beat Generation. Some hippies will insist that "hippie" was a marketing tool created by 'the establishment', and that hippies per se do not exist.
Neo-hippie is a name given to modern hippies, who retain some aspects of the '60s hippie movement. Dreadlocks, especially with beads sewn into them, are popular among neo-hippies.