Skip to main content
The American Century

Summer of Love

Hippie Dancing

People came from all over the country by any means they could, often hitchhiking even from the East Coast to spend the summer of 1967 in San Francisco with other people who had become disenchanted with the culture of the 1950s and 1960s and set out to create their own counterculture. These mostly young people saw the rigidity and practicality of their parents’ generation as a prison and wanted something completely different for themselves. While their parents were raised by the Great Depression generation who experienced the absolute depths of economic depravity and thus strictly emphasized the importance of good careers and solid incomes to support a family in a suburban home, the “baby boomer” generation had never known any sort of real hardship. America at the time was economically strong and the youth of the generation had more freedom than any previous American adolescents and young adults. Many of these people set out to find happiness outside of the confines of what society deemed the proper way. Those who went to San Francisco for the Summer of Love embraced free love and being carefree over the strict social norms imposed on them by the rest of America. The Mamas & The Papas evidence this with the lyric, “This is an invitation across the nation; A chance for the folks to meet. There'll be laughin', singin', and music swingin'. And dancin' in the streets.” The Summer of Love was defined by the carefree attitude of the people there, who were only interested in pursuing happiness and surrounding themselves with people who held the same beliefs.

 The Mamas & The Papas - Dancing in the Street

This was the final song performed at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 18th, 1967 after 3 days of music. The song is remake of the 1964 Motown hit of the same name by the group Martha and the Vandellas. The song’s lyrics are very representative of some of the beliefs of the counterculture, so The Mommas & The Papas remake became incredibly popular. One such lyric is “Oh, it doesn't matter what you wear, just as long as you are there.” The members of the counterculture only cared about ones presence, not about how they dressed or how ragged they looked and this song captures that notion. The whole image of dancing in the street to “sweet music,” as the song says, also perfectly describes the carefree, happy atmosphere that the Summer of Love set out to foster.