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Two hippies at the Woodstock Festival (1969)

A hippie (from English hip = 'hip', also acidhead , flower child or in the German-speaking countries Blumenkind ) is a member of the great countercultural youth movement that emerged in the USA in the 1960s , for which, among other things, closeness to nature, consumer criticism and the break with was central to the then common ideas about life and morals 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”). Later she went into the alternative movements as well as a variety of new subcultures and scenes , u. a. the punk scene.

It had a great influence on the way we think and act in today's world, so it 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. With its style, too, the hippie movement strongly influenced all aspects of mainstream culture, including fashion, film and music (see, for example, the most successful band in music history, the Beatles ).

Origin and ideals

Festival goer 1974

The hippie movement, which originated in San Francisco, questioned what they believed to be meaningless ideals of prosperity of the middle class and propagated an idea of ​​life that was freed from constraints and bourgeois taboos. Compared to the 1968 movement and the bums , communal ( self-realization ) concepts dominated more than socio-political concepts, and in some cases the ideals of the movements overlapped. “Unlike the bums, they didn't just want to escape the pressure to perform in society, but at the same time to find new, more humane ways of life and manners.” The idea of ​​a more humane and peaceful life was borne out by the catchphrase flower power (English for “flower power”) , which was coined in 1965 by the American poet Allen Ginsberg and is often used as a synonym for the entire hippie movement. These ideals were experimentally implemented in new, often rural, communities .

With its denial of the existing social and political norms and values, the hippie culture continued corresponding approaches of the Beat Generation , to which u. a. William S. Burroughs , Neal Cassady , Charles Plymell , Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg counted. "[...] in the non-conformism of the Beat Generation of the 1940s, the essential aspects of the hippie movement are thematized: the peace movement, free love, drug consumption, Far Eastern religions [...]."

Many observers attribute a significant influence on movement to hallucinogenic drugs, especially LSD . Experience from LSD trips was incorporated into the culture, philosophy and politics of the movement. After the substance was banned, its production relocated to underground laboratories. LSD experiences were processed in numerous pieces of music and films, and they were also an issue in the general public and in science.


Typical hippie car: Renault 4
Hippie clothing
Hippie accessories
Typical hippie vehicle: VW bus

Bands like 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 show different facets of the plural , heterogeneous hippie movement.

Hippies often represented a bohemian style, as in the Haight-Ashbury districts in San Francisco and Greenwich Village in New York, where they created underground spaces as subcultures .

Free love and drug use were common in the hippie culture.


In their clothing style, the hippie movement provocatively countered industrially manufactured mass fashion with an anti-fashion. By producing in-house by means of sewing, dyeing and knitting , one set oneself apart from the consumer society and thus eluded its commercial exploitation interests. Wearing this clothing thus not only demonstrated individuality and creativity, but also a rejection of the existing economic order.

In this culture a style of music and clothing was established. In the graphic area, she influenced poster art and the design of record sleeves. Some men and women wore billowing batik garments with bright colors and mostly the so-called Jesus sandals on the feet or went barefoot . Long hair, often with dreadlocks , was popular as hairstyles 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 or no gender-specific differences in clothing, which symbolizes the breaking up of gender roles. Bloomers, dreadlocks, piercings and traditional blackwork tattoos, which give off a techno-shamanistic appearance and thus externally represent the attitudes of the freaks of the psytrance scene, have been popular since the 1990s until today. From the 1970s onwards, the dreadlocks and the clothing style were derived from the Indian sadhus, who not only had a strong external influence on the hippie scene in Goa . Objects such as incense sticks and scented candles, which are still popular in the Goa scene today, were also widespread. Hippies adorned themselves with flowers as a symbol 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 tabloids . Men, like women, often wore long hair and jewelry.


The hippie scene is musically diverse. The music styles range from various types of rock music such as space rock , folk rock , jazz rock , blues rock and other progressive directions 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.

The psychedelic music , in addition to Folk of the dominant musical style during the height of the hippie movement in the late 1960s was marked by drug benefit for many musicians. Since the 1970s, reggae came into the freak scene as popular music. A second flare-up of subcultural-hippiesque life was formed by the goatrance scene from the 1990s, which turned the previous space rock with trance-like 4/4 beats and new synthesizers and sample techniques into an even more intense, better danceable experience. One example of this merger is the Swiss artist Eternal Bliss. Even beyond the Goa and later psychedelic dance scene, space, psychedelic and kraut rock developed further from the 1970s. Compared to their predecessors, the more modern bands of these genres are usually a bit heavier, more bass-heavy and influenced by stoner rock, which is why the psychedelic of this genre is called Heavypsychedelic or, for short, "Heavypsychrock". A representative of this genre is the band Causa Sui. Other well-known bands of contemporary space and psychedelic and neo-herb rock music are: 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 emerged from a crossover of Doom and Psychedelic.

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

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

The musical and melodiously catchy example that captures the emotions of this era is probably the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band of the Beatles, recorded in 1967 . The album was a total work of art that heralded joie de vivre and a new zeitgeist: a splendid time is guaranteed for all .

The hippie train to Asia

Another characteristic of this movement was the great departure to the East, towards India and its oriental mysticism. Low drug prices, as well as a life that was extremely cheap at the time, also contributed to making this destination more attractive. On the way there, Kabul became known as a transit station and the Kathmandu valley became known as the final destination of the hippies in search of individual freedom.

The departure to the east comprised several sides: The cultural side consisted in the search for oneself. In her opinion, the way of life of the hippies with their dream of freedom, peace and love could mainly be implemented in other cultures. Clothing, mindset and hair length were not subject to any norms or standard values. The nomadic side was the search for new horizons. The film Easy Rider became a cult film in part because it symbolized a longing. Not least the longing of thousands of young people for freedom, in America and Europe, including India. A third world country in which the social differences were so enormous that they were beyond the understanding of most Europeans ( caste system ). Shaken awake by the social and political movements at the end of the 1960s, new paths should be opened up. Mysticism, drugs and / or religion were used as sources of inspiration. At the beginning of the 1970s, the young people realized that they were all just seekers, looking for a mysticism that would use drugs to open up access to “The Gates of Perception” ( Aldous Huxley ). However, mainly only the white middle class of the western world was affected.

One of the models for the India move was Hermann Hesse'sSiddharta ”. In 1911 Hesse himself was in India for several months. Many readers felt drawn to it. But despite the well-known “counter-culture” ( English for “counterculture”) America was not a hippie destination for Europeans, but rather remained a deterrent, also because of the Vietnam War.

In aversion to being appropriated by the authoritarian system, a subculture developed in the guest houses of the India overland trail that was looking for its own standards and guidelines. Sociologically , the hippies essentially consisted of West European and North American middle-class children, mostly under 30 years of age, emigrants and dropouts, bon vivants and bohemians, students, refusal to work , deserters , drug users and drug dealers.

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

Contemporary view

Hippies have been vilified by conservative circles and the mainstream as work-shy, bums, chaotic and long-haired people . They were seen as dropouts who did not submit to the performance principle and bourgeois conventions and moral standards, but withdrew. Often, in a pejorative sense, they were accused of general political endeavors such as socialism , anarchism or communism , although there were definitely anarchist tendencies within the hippie movement and the counterculture , but no state communist or state socialist interests and ideologies. "The goal of the hippies was an anti-authoritarian and de-hierarchized world and value order 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, such as here on the coast of Sardinia (Valle di Luna, Capo Testa ), hippies sometimes live in caves or in self-built accommodations
Rainbow Gathering , Russia, August 2005

With their commercialization, the hippie movement collapsed. New social movements then formed a certain basin for parts of the former hippie movement since the 1970s. The newly emerging youth culture of punk has been very much differentiated since around 1977 from the inwardness, the gentleness and love of nature of the hippies, which they felt as lying. Many young hippies "converted" to the new, increasingly dominant youth culture. Even so, many hippies lived alongside the new subculture and did not go away. Even today people live in an alternative-experimental manner in the spirit of the hippie movement. The hippie movement died as a mass cult, but has survived to this day as a niche culture.

Today's hippies, like their predecessors, are supporters of an attitude of mind that postulates a liberal, pacifist-social, tolerant community life. Within this philosophy of life, anarchic ways of thinking are just as common as natural-religious-spiritual. Vegetarianism , including veganism , is widespread. This becomes clear, for example, in the ecological way of life of many hippies and in the food on offer at events in the hippie scene. The worldview 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 country and in southern countries, for example in municipalities on Ibiza , Morocco or on the Greek islands. Small hippie communities still live in Goa, India (see section “The hippie train to Asia” ), from where the Goatrance music genre originated .

Especially in the later phase, the boundaries to the New Age are fluid. In this respect, parts of the hippie movement are a transition 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 , an alternative housing estate founded by hippies still exists in Copenhagen as an autonomous community.


Germany's oldest and Europe's largest hippie festival, the Burg-Herzberg Festival , has existed since 1968 and unites 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 in various directions but in harmony with the alternative culture. In addition to these more classic festivals, there are also 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 make professional music performances, but community life in the great outdoors. Overall, the American scene is more oriented towards jam rock, whereas in Europe the different rock variants, Goa and reggae are more common.


The films that deal 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 Die Pforten der perception or the works of Carlos Castanedas are sources of inspiration for the hippie movement. Furthermore, the hippie movement is processed by the US writer TC Boyle in his 2003 novel " Drop City ".

In the South Park episode Die Hippie, Die! the lifestyle of the hippies is approached with humor. The documentary Last Hippie Standing is dedicated to the history of the 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.): Bohemien - 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 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 Presse, 2nd edition, Amsterdam 1979. ISBN 90-70215-03-9 .
  • Klaus Farin : Youth Cultures in Germany 1950–1989 . Publishing house Federal Agency for Civic Education; Zeitbilder series, Bonn 2006, ISBN 3-89331-671-X .
  • Walter Hollstein : The opposite society . Rowohlt Verlag, rororo-Sachbuch 7454, Reinbek 1982, p. 50, ISBN 3-499-17454-5 .
  • Walter Hollstein: The underground. On the sociology of youth protest movements . Luchterhand, Neuwied 1969.
Hippie magazines
  • Love , Berlin (five editions, 1970–1971)
  • Holy Flipp , Herten (1973/1974)

See: Udo Pasterny / Jens Gehret (eds.): Deutschsprachige Bibliographie der Gegenkultur , pp. 107 and 109. Azid Presse, Amsterdam 1982. ISBN 90-70215-10-1 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Hippie  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Hippies  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Michael Fallon: About the term hippie (English), accessed on February 17, 2009.
  2. Title Theses Temperamentfarben: Tom Wolfe - Interior Views of the Hippie Movement ( Memento from December 22, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Timeline of Hippie Culture (English), accessed on February 17, 2009.
  4. ^ Quote from Klaus Farin , Jugendkultur in Deutschland 1950 to 1989 . Part 2, Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn 2006. In the holdings of the German National Library.
  5. Quotation from "history-themenseiten". ( Memento from January 24, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  6. Fahlenbrach, Kathrin: Protest Staging, Visual Communication and Collective Identities in Protest Movements , Springer 2002, p. 202
  7. See on this: “Der Spiegel” from January 30, 2009; Flower children of evil . When the hippie culture turned into a frenzy of violence . By Constantin Alexander. Retrieved February 18, 2009
  8. The opposite society . P. 50.
  9. ^ Manfred Görtemaker : History of the Federal Republic of Germany . From the foundation to the present. CH Beck, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-406-44554-3 , p. 478 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  10. Klaus Farin Swinging Sixties , chapter: Die Hippies, page 4. Cf. also: Klaus Farin: Jugendkulturen in Deutschland , 1959–1989.