Summer of Love turns 50
1 July, 2017
San Francisco is celebrating the 50th anniversary from the Summer of Love. In 1967 hundreds of thousands of youths descended on the west coast city to join a unique cultural revolution challenging the accepted wisdom as well as a political protest against the Vietnam War.
The Summer of Love attracted not only musicians but also artists and poets; special shops of clothes and hippie food stores sprouted up. A whole community was born. Back then, struggling artists could afford the city, which is more than it could be said now. The national media paid little attention to San Francisco's psychedelic community until January 1967, when poets and bands joined forces for a Golden Gate Park gathering that unexpectedly drew about 50,000 people. After the media got hold of it, the event just exploded.
San Francisco is celebrating the anniversary with museum exhibits, music and film festivals, Summer of Love-inspired dance parties and lecture panels. Hotels are offering discount packages that include "psychedelic cocktails", "Love Bus" tours and tie-dyed tote bags.
An exhaustive exhibit at San Francisco's De Young museum, "The Summer of Love Experience," will run through 20 August. De Young is a giant copper-clad museum in the open green spaces of three-mile-long Golden Gate Park, where turquoise jays flit between palm and eucalyptus trees.
Fashion-focused rooms show the journey from uptight girdles and garter belts to loose, free-flowing maxi dresses and flared trousers. The first bell-bottom jeans, made in San Francisco at the Levis factory, are displayed. Flared jeans, we are told, were originally made to fit over cowboy boots. Today, the Levis store on Market Street, the main downtown shopping drag, has a rack of Summer of Love clothes inspired by the company’s archive, including a two-tone suede jacket at $1,200.
One of the best items in the exhibition, however, is one of the smallest. Made of goatskin and decorated with silk chain-stitch embroidery by Linda Gravenites, it is Janis Joplin’s exquisite handbag from 1967. Suspended in a glass case, it looks like new, its red beads still shining.