Aug 1, 2018

June 21, 1967: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco


"Come to the Summer Solstice with costumes and love in your loins and sleeping bags," said (Diggers dig anonymity) Another Digger Wednesday evening.
The summer solstice will occur Wednesday, June 21, at about 9 pm. A great celebration sponsored by everybody is planned. The celebration will begin at sunrise on the 21st and last "probably all day and night and day," Miss A told BARB.
The permit for the celebration covers the whole park. Everybody can just go off in a corner and groove or they can gather at any of the planned events: a magician competition, motorcycle and chariot races, archery and games of all sorts - perhaps even barges on the lake.
"People really should come in costume," A said. "They mostly should come as themselves, but really as themselves. To consider what period and what civilization is most themselves, like what they embody - or their astrological sign. Whatever their essence is. Bring flags, bring torches, bring things to give away." [ . . . ]

(by Robert Hurwitt, from the Berkeley Barb, 16 June 1967) 



BARB was sure that we would be alone at four thirty Wednesday morning in the cold at the top of twin peaks but we were wrong.
BARB was there along with several hundred other hardy souls to open the Summer Solstice Celebration.
Many people were chanting the Hare Krishna, many people were grooving, and many people were in the process of making both documentary and news films.
There were TV newsfilm crews from as far away as Salt Lake City and film crews from at least one major studio in Hollywood and at least one major independent film producer.
All this work had little effect on the assembled troops. BARB saw many many very joyous people and was touched by the sight of a blind boy who had apparently walked the two miles by himself at that early hour to welcome the summer.
By midday 5000 were milling, dancing, listening, and doing their thing in the Golden Gate Park Polo Field and the surrounding meadows.
An 8 foot canvas globe appeared and was bounced above the heads of the crowd to calls of "turn on the world." A lady in a tent painted peoples' faces, and hundreds made paper flowers to deck the park shrubbery.
The Grateful Dead, the Mad River, Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Black Swan, Alcoholics Anonymous [sic],  and several other groups played at various places around the park. The Diggers provided a barbecue of roast [line missing]
[Every]body grooved.
Photographers and moviemakers were everywhere, and San Francisco's finest were scarce and cool. At day's end many walked down to the ocean for the sunset, and others bedded down to wait for dawn.
Everything seemed to come off very well, there were no hassles, and things looked good for a summer of love in the park.
The solstice did not produce anything more sensational than many people having a very good time, but that is what happened. The park was used to its best advantage and the legend of San Francisco and its beautiful people continues to grow.
(BARB went to press before Thursday's celebration - Ed.)
(by Sam Silver & Tom Ferguson, from the Berkeley Barb, 23 June 1967)


Due to a greater than usual sluggishness on the part of my inner and most secret organs, I didn't get Solstice-bound until after eleven, and didn't reach Golden Gate Park until after twelve.
(Which was all right, I guess, since I never REALLY intended to make the sunrise service on Twin Peaks. I mean, I figured it would probably make it up all right without me.)
At first blush, the scene near the Polo Grounds was a little disappointing, primarily because of the small turnout. It seemed as though I'd seen more people crammed into Provo Park than were at the Solstice, but this may have simply been an optical illusion: ten in a phone booth makes quite a crowd. But not in Golden Gate Park.
Then, too, the place didn't seem to have the spirit that the Be-In had. The Solstice planners, as I recall, intentionally and self-consciously decentralized the activities, and this may in turn have decentralized the spirit.
Crowd management, it seems, is an either/or proposition: either you cram people together in an orgy of nuzzling flesh and face the tyranny of the bandstand, or you provide a number of bandstands and put up with the natural tendency of people to split up into their own bag-groups.
Personally, I like a little pushing and shoving: that way, all the individual body charges collect into a common cloud and begin to crackle and flash. The Solstice, on the other hand, took place under uncommonly quiet skies.
Since my wife had to work and I have no other friends to speak of, I was pretty much on my own all day. So I watched people (and "people," I must confess, is generally synonymous with "women").
And so, I am prepared to offer a few fashion notes. Hippie girls pretty well ignore the middle road: the skirt is either thigh-high or ankle-low. And hippie girls are also far less meticulous about the way they sit. A thigh-high careless-sitter is one of those best things in life that are delightfully free.
Each time out I find fewer bras in operation, which is one of the more hopeful signs on the horizon: freedom, as they say, communicates.
I might single out for comment two free-fashion setters who caught my eye and held it: one was a pastel beauty wearing a sheer black blouse without benefit of bra or bandaid, and the other, a slightly more buxom lass in a thigh-high smock slit to the waist on either side who ran past me with the wind unfurling the back panel to reveal an exquisite pair of dimpled buttocks sans couture. (That sounds like a menu item, doesn't it?)
Among the men, I must note a Negro in whiteface, and several members of the post-Blowup set decked out in mime. There were a good many painted faces, and dozens of glued on psychedelic flimflams. And one man walking around like a lost drawing from the Ramayana.
So far as the music went, I couldn't visually identify any of the groups except the Grateful Dead; and my only comment here is that I never realized before how much Jerry Garcia reminds me of Monty Rock III. (You don't know Monty Rock III? Tsk-Tsk.)
Unfortunately, the sound equipment made most of the music sound like Lloyd Bridges on a tuba.
For those wrapped up in their own bags, I'm sure the day was a total groove; for the rest of us poor schmucks I'm afraid it was just another voyeuristic eye-splash.

(by Richard Ogar, from the Berkeley Barb, 23 June 1967) 

See also:
The Way It Was (CBC documentary)

1 comment:

  1. Nothing about the Dead here, just the general solstice scene in the park. The Berkeley Barb ran two reports from very different perspectives - one a positive overview about how successful the day was, and how many film crews and bands were present; the other by a rather cynical loner who spent the day watching girls. He complains that the crowd wasn't that big and the sound wasn't that good...but at least there were lots of hippie girls to look at. (This voyeuristic viewpoint actually isn't that different from how "mainstream" news reporters usually covered hippie gatherings, focusing mainly on what the kids were wearing.)
    This must be the only time Jerry Garcia was ever compared to Monti Rock III, a flamboyantly gay TV personality.