Looking Back: Where did all the hippies go?

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We are all used to protesters and I would be the first to condone a peaceful protest whether about tree felling, fracking or political injustice. After all I did my fair share back in the day against apartheid and other humanitarian atrocities.

But what has happened to the Hippies, New Age Travellers and Eco Warriors of yesteryear who seemed to be associated with protest movements?

The Hippie was a member of a counterculture, starting with the young in the USA and in the United Kingdom during the mid-60s and soon moving to other countries around the world. The word hippie came from hipster and was originally used to describe beatniks who had moved into New York’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury’s district. Visiting the area around 2000 we were painfully aware that we were a few decades too late and the Summer of Love had been and gone!

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In 1970 there were many hippies enjoying the gigantic Isle of Wight festival with a crowd of over 400,000 people. That was about as far as British hippies ever got!

A group of hippies talk and smoke marijuana outside their camp at the Isle of Wight pop festival.    (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)A group of hippies talk and smoke marijuana outside their camp at the Isle of Wight pop festival.    (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
A group of hippies talk and smoke marijuana outside their camp at the Isle of Wight pop festival. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Hippies were also synonymous with the images of camper vans decorated with bright psychedelic symbols although by the 1970s they were being driven by surfing dudes as seen on Beach Boys videos. The vans were also called Kombis, Love Machines and hippie vans due to the laidback and go-slow attitude which connected with the zeitgeist of the times..

Hippie fashion had a major effect on popular culture, music, television, film, and literature with the religious and cultural diversity practised by the hippies gaining widespread acceptance.

‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac was universally acclaimed as one of the best and influential books of the 20th century and a defining work of the Post-War Beat and counterculture generation.

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Hippies may have been and gone but it seems that New Age Travellers are still alive and well, mainly, around Devon and Somerset. Some live in traditional Gypsy wagons although having no connection with Gypsies or Travellers and make a living organising and trading at music festivals like Stonehenge and Glastonbury, offering spiritual healing.

Always a peaceable people, they just want to live their lives according to their beliefs but have seen much prejudice against their way of life.

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