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Two hippies at Woodstock Festival (1969)

A hippie (from English hip = 'hip', also acidhead , flower child or in German-speaking countries flower child ) is a member of the large countercultural youth movement that emerged in the USA in the 1960s , for which, among other things, a love of nature, criticism of consumerism and the break with was central to the life and moral concepts that were common at the time in the sense of a more peaceful and humane world.

The hippie movement found its socio-political climax in the peace movement against the Vietnam War and coined the motto Make love, not war (“make love, not war”). She later became part of the alternative movements and a variety of new subcultures and scenes , e.g. the Goa and the punk scene.

She had a great influence on the thinking and acting of today's world, so she significantly promoted the sexual revolution , environmental protection , anti- racism and the general dissolution of the authoritarian power structures in family and society that were common at the time. Even with its style, the hippie movement strongly influenced all aspects of mainstream culture, including fashion, film and music (see e.g. the most successful band in music history, the Beatles ).

origins and ideals

Festival-goers 1974

The hippie movement, which emanated from San Francisco , questioned the meaningless ideals of prosperity of the middle class and propagated a way of life freed from constraints and bourgeois taboos. Compared to the 1968 movement and the bums , community ( self-realization ) concepts dominated more than socio-political concepts, and the ideals of the movements sometimes overlapped. "Because unlike the bums, they not only wanted to escape society's pressure to perform, but also wanted to find new, more humane ways of life and manners at the same time." The idea of ​​a more humane and peaceful life was given the buzzword flower power , coined by American poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965 and often used as a synonym for the entire hippie movement. These ideals have been experimentally implemented in novel, often rural communities .

With its rejection of the existing social and political norms and values, the hippie culture continued the corresponding approaches of the Beat Generation , to which i.a. William S. Burroughs , Neal Cassady , Charles Plymell , Jack Kerouac , and Allen Ginsberg counted. In the non-conformism of the Beat Generation of the 1950s, the peace movement, free love , drug use and Far Eastern religions were addressed and fascism was dealt with in Germany right down to the universities.

A major influence on the movement is attributed by many observers to hallucinogenic drugs, particularly LSD . Experiences from LSD trips fed into the culture, philosophy, and politics of the movement. After the substance was banned, its production shifted to underground laboratories. LSD experiences were processed in numerous pieces of music and films, and they were also a topic in the general public and in science.


Typical hippie car: Renault 4
hippie apparel
hippie accessories
Typical hippie vehicle: VW bus

Showing bands like the Grateful Dead , Beatles, Rolling Stones , The Who , Santana , musicians like Janis Joplin , Jimi Hendrix , Melanie Safka and Jim Morrison , artists like Robert Crumb , actors like Peter Fonda and Arlo Guthrie , and activists like Ken Kesey and Allen Ginsberg different facets of the plural , heterogeneous hippie movement.

Oftentimes, hippies represented bohemianism , as in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods of San Francisco and Greenwich Village of New York, where they created underground sites as a subculture .


In their clothing style, the hippie movement provocatively countered the industrially manufactured mass fashion with an anti-fashion. Through self-production by means of sewing, dyeing and knitting , one set oneself apart from the consumer society and thus also withdrew from its market-economy exploitation interests. Wearing this clothing not only demonstrated individuality and creativity, but also a rejection of the existing economic system.

This culture established its own style of music and clothing. In the graphic field, she influenced poster art and the design of record sleeves. Some men and women wore flowing batik robes with bright colors and mostly the so-called Jesus slippers on their feet or went barefoot . Long hair, often with dreadlocks , was a popular hairstyle for both men and women, but there were also more unusual hairstyles and often brightly colored hair. It is characteristic that there are hardly any gender-specific differences in clothing, which symbolizes the breaking up of gender roles. Since the 1990s until today, bloomers, dreadlocks, piercings and traditional blackwork tattoos have been popular, which give a techno-shamanistic appearance and thus outwardly represent the attitudes of the freaks of the psytrance scene. The dreadlocks and the style of clothing were derived from the Indian Sadhus from the 1970s, who not only had a strong influence on the hippie scene in Goa on the outside. Also common were items such as incense sticks and scented candles, which are still popular in the Goan scene today. Hippies adorned themselves with flowers as a sign of peace and love, an attribute that the fashion industry soon exploited and thus made socially acceptable. They were therefore called "flower children" by the tabloid press . Men, like women, often wore long hair and jewellery.


The hippie scene is musically diverse. The styles of music range from various types of rock music such as space rock , folk rock , jazz rock , blues rock and other progressive styles such as progressive rock to nature music to psychedelic trance and progressive trance , folk , world music and reggae influences . In general, attention is paid to a harmonious, peaceful atmosphere.

Psychedelic music , alongside folk the dominant musical style during the height of the hippie movement in the late 1960s, was shaped by drug use among many musicians. Since the 1970s, reggae has been popular music in the freak scene. A second flare-up of subcultural-hippiesque life was the goatrance scene from the 1990s, which made the previous space rock with trancey 4/4 beats and new synthesizers and sample techniques an even more intensive, better danceable experience. Beyond the Goa and later psychedelic trance scene, space, psychedelic and krautrock continued to develop from the 1970s onwards. Compared to their predecessors, the more modern bands in this genre are usually a bit harder, more bass-heavy and influenced by stoner rock, which is why the psychedelic of this genre is called heavy psychedelic or “heavy psych rock” for short. A representative of this genre is the band Causa Sui. Other well-known contemporary space and psychedelic and neokrautrock bands include: Electric Moon, My Brother In The Wind, Oresund Space Collective, Ozric Tentacles, Hidria Spacefolk, 35007, Electric Orange, Eye, Camera, Husky, Korai Öröm, Melting Euphoria, THTX, Tribe of Cro, Space Debris, Monkey3, My Sleeping Karma, Saturnia, Quantum Fantay and The Egocentrics. The band Om was born from a crossover of doom and psychedelic.

A well-known song that made direct reference to the origins of hippie culture and flowers was Scott McKenzie 's hit " San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) " , which stayed at number one in Germany for two months in 1967 was. It was preceded by the Beatles' song " All You Need Is Love " , which was also significant for the time and topped the charts for six weeks.

The Woodstock Festival was a musical highlight that has become famous and which also heralded the beginning of the final phase of the non-commercialized hippie movement . The musical Hair , which heralded the age of Aquarius ( esoteric ), is almost representative of the hippie era. However, “Hair” in particular was and is regarded by the vast majority of hippies as too clichéd and kitschy .

The most musically and melodically catchy example that captures the emotion of this era is arguably the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt . Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band . The album was a total work of art that announced joie de vivre and a new zeitgeist: a splendid time is guaranteed for all .

The hippie train to Asia

Characteristic of this movement was also the great departure to the East, towards India and its oriental mysticism. Low drug prices, as well as what was then extremely cheap living, also helped increase the attractiveness of this destination. Along the way, Kabul became known as a way station and the Kathmandu Valley as the final destination of hippies in search of individual freedom.

The departure to the East comprised several aspects: The cultural aspect consisted in the search for oneself. In their opinion, the way of life of the hippies with their dreams of freedom, peace and love could mainly be implemented in other cultures. Clothing, way of thinking and hair length were subject to other norms or standard values. The nomadic side was the search for new horizons. The film Easy Rider became a cult film partly because it symbolized a longing. Last but not least, the longing of thousands of young people for freedom, in America and Europe, including in India. A Third World country where social differences were so vast that they were beyond the understanding of most Europeans ( caste system ). Shaken up by the social and political movements at the end of the 1960s, new avenues were to be explored. Mysticism, drugs and/or religion were used as a source of inspiration. By the early 1970s, young people had become aware that they were all just seekers, searching for a mysticism that was supposed to open access to “ The Gates of Perception ” ( Aldous Huxley ) with drugs. However, it was mainly only the white middle class in the western world that was affected.

One of the role models for the India campaign was Hermann Hesse's " Siddharta ". Hesse was in India for several months in 1911. Many readers felt addressed by it. But despite the well-known "counter-culture" ( English for "counterculture"), America did not become a hippie destination for Europeans, but rather remained a deterrent example, also because of the Vietnam War.

A subculture developed in the guesthouses of the India-overland-trail in aversion to being co-opted by the authoritarian system, which was looking for its own norms and guidelines. Sociologically , the hippies essentially consisted of Western European and North American middle-class children, mostly under the age of 30, emigrants and dropouts, bohemians and bohemians, students, refusers , deserters , drug users and drug dealers.

The only thing they had in common was that they all wanted to break away from the authoritarian lifestyle of the 1960s. They headed east in search of new experiences. A counterculture settled in Goa, Kabul and Kathmandu.

Contemporary View

Hippies were defamed by conservative circles and the mainstream as work-shy, bums, chaotic and long- haired . They were viewed as dropouts who did not submit to the performance principle and bourgeois conventions and moral concepts, but evaded them. They were often, in a pejorative sense, assumed to have general political aspirations such as socialism , anarchism or communism , although there were definitely anarchist tendencies within the hippie movement and the counterculture , but no state communist or socialist interests and ideologies. "The goal of the hippies was an anti-authoritarian and de-hierarchical world order and value system without class differences, performance norms, oppression, cruelty and wars." ( Walter Hollstein ) In this context, love at the top of the value hierarchy was not in an egocentric but in a communal sense Roger that.

Dissolution and continued existence today

In some warm regions, like here on the coast of Sardinia (Valle di Luna, Capo Testa ), hippies sometimes live in caves or self-built shelters.
Rainbow Gathering , Russia, August 2005

With their commercialization came the decline of the hippie movement. New social movements then formed a certain catchment basin for parts of the former hippie movement since the 1970s. Since around 1977, the newly emerging youth culture of punk has differentiated itself very strongly from the introspection, gentleness and love of nature of the hippies, which they felt to be mendacious. Many teenage hippies converted to the new youth culture that was becoming dominant. Despite this, many hippies lived alongside the new subculture and did not disappear. Even today people live alternative-experimental in the spirit of the hippie movement. The hippie movement died as a mass cult, but survived to this day as a niche culture.

Like their predecessors, today's hippies are followers of a mindset that postulates free, pacifist-social, tolerant community life. Within this philosophy of life, anarchic ways of thinking are just as common as natural-religious-spiritual ones. Vegetarianism and veganism are very common. This becomes clear, for example, in the ecological way of life of many hippies and in the food offered at events in the hippie scene. The world view and the style of clothing as well as the way of life are left to the individual. Nowadays there are hippies in many, especially larger cities in the western world, also isolated in the countryside and in southern countries, e.g. in municipalities on Ibiza , in Morocco or on the Greek islands. Small hippie communities also live to this day in Goa in India (see section “The hippie train to Asia”), from where the goatrance music genre originated .

Especially in the late phase, the boundaries to the New Age are fluid. In this respect, parts of the hippie movement are a transitional phenomenon from the rationalistic progress narratives of modernity (including the 1968 movement and socialism ) to the neo- mysticism of postmodernism (including: New Age, neo- paganism ).

With the free city of Christiania , Copenhagen still has an alternative housing estate founded by hippies as an autonomous municipality.


Germany's oldest and Europe's largest hippie festival, the Burg-Herzberg-Festival , has existed since 1968 and brings together newcomers and "old hippies". Also at other, but mostly smaller and therefore more regional festivals such as the Flower Power Festival in Freiberg , the Zytanienfestival or the FreakWeekNoEnd in Oberviechtach in Upper Palatinate , there is a rich selection of music of the most diverse directions but in harmony with alternative culture. In addition to these more classic festivals, you can also find many hippies at the even more numerous Goatrance festivals, such as the Antaris or the Fullmoon, or at the alternative fusion festival. In the USA, the Burning Man Festival is the center of the scene.

A highlight of the year for part of today's hippie scene are the annual Rainbow Gatherings , which - in contrast to the festivals - do not constitute professional music performances, but community life in the great outdoors. Overall, the American scene is more jam-rock oriented, whereas in Europe the different rock variants, Goa and Reggae are more common.


The films dealing with the lifestyle of the hippies include Easy Rider , Cheech and Chong , Alice's Restaurant or the film adaptation of the musicals Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar as well as the documentary about the Woodstock Festival .

In literature, books such as The Gates of Perception or the works of Carlos Castaneda are sources of inspiration for the hippie movement. Furthermore, the hippie movement is processed by the American writer TC Boyle in his 2003 novel " Drop City ".

In the South Park episode Die Hippie, Die! the lifestyle of the hippies is approached in a humorous way. The documentary Last Hippie Standing is dedicated to the history of hippie culture in Goa.


  • Barry Miles : Hippies . Collection Rolf Heyne, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-89910-257-6 .
  • Michael G. Symolka: Hippie Lexicon (The ABC of the Flower Power Era) . Lexicon Imprint Verlag, ISBN 3-89602-204-0 .
  • Rauhut, Michael & Thomas Kochan (eds.): Bye bye, Lübben City. Blues freaks, tramps and hippies in the GDR. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2004, ISBN 3-89602-602-X .
  • Gerd Stein (ed.): Bohemian - Tramp - Sponti. bohemian and alternative culture. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1982 (Series: FTB 5035), ISBN 3-596-25035-8 .
  • Matthias Blazek: The Mamas and The Papas - Flower Power Icons, Psychedelics and the Sexual Revolution . Ibidem Verlag, Stuttgart 2014, ISBN 978-3-8382-0577-9 .
  • Jens Gehret (ed.): Counterculture today. The Alternative Movement from Woodstock to Tunix . Azid Press, 2nd edition, Amsterdam 1979. ISBN 90-70215-03-9 .
  • Klaus Farin : Youth Cultures in Germany 1950–1989 . Publisher Federal Agency for Civic Education; Series of time images, Bonn 2006, ISBN 3-89331-671-X .
  • Walter Hollstein : The counter-society . Rowohlt Verlag, rororo non-fiction book 7454, Reinbek 1982, p. 50, ISBN 3-499-17454-5 .
  • Walter Hollstein: The underground. On the Sociology of Youth Protest Movements . Luchterhand, Neuwied 1969.
  • Roland Zoss (ed.): Hippie-Härz, a Trip dur the Seventies . Novel and music audio book about the Swiss scene, Jimmy Flitz Verlag/Bod, Bern 2021. Book ISBN 978-3-7534-4621-9 , audio book ISBN 978-3-7526-6651-9 .
hippie magazines
  • Love , Berlin (five issues, 1970–1971)
  • Holy Flipp , Herten (1973/1974)

See: Udo Pasterny/Jens Gehret (eds.): German-language bibliography of counterculture , pp. 107 and 109. Azid Presse, Amsterdam 1982. ISBN 90-70215-10-1 .

web links

Wiktionary: Hippie  - meaning explanations, word origin, synonyms, translations
Commons : Hippies  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Michael Fallon, On the Term Hippie (English), accessed February 17, 2009.
  2. Title Theses temperament colors: Tom Wolfe – Inside views of the hippie movement ( Memento from December 22, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Timeline of Hippie Culture . Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  4. ^ Quote from Klaus Farin , Jugendkultur in Deutschland 1950 bis 1989 . Part 2, Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn 2006. In the holdings of the German National Library.
  5. Fahlenbrach, Kathrin: Protest staging, visual communication and collective identities in protest movements , Springer 2002, p. 202
  6. Cf. on this: “Der Spiegel” of January 30, 2009; Flower Children of Evil . When hippie culture turned into a frenzy of violence . By Constantine Alexander. Retrieved February 18, 2009
  7. The counter-society . p. 50.
  8. Manfred Görtemaker : History of the Federal Republic of Germany . From inception to the present. CH Beck, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-406-44554-3 , pp. 478 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  9. Klaus Farin Swinging Sixties , Chapter: The Hippies, page 4. See also: Klaus Farin: Jugendkulturen in Deutschland , 1959–1989.