Electronic Dance Music and The Hippie Counterculture Movement of the 1960’s. Those two words don’t seem to go together, now do they? Well, what if I told you that these two cultural phenomenons were insanely similar? You probably wouldn’t believe me. Well, get ready because I am about to make you all believers.
Hippies: Not Just For The 1960’s
When you think of the 1960’s, probably one of the first things that crosses your mind is the word “hippies.” Hippies and great music that completely shaped a generation. The culture of that society was widely reflected in the music of that time, when the generation’s youth strived to break free from the conformity of the previous generation, the 1950’s. These young people were also known as hippies. Hippies believed that the government was corrupt and wanted to replace that negative corruption with a Utopian society. Music has always been a reflection of the generation in which it was written. In the 1960’s, music was the voice of the unspoken people. Drugs and sex were a form of rebellion and an expression of freedom.
Now, let’s connect the aspect of The Hippie Counterculture and the EDM scene together. Did you know that hippies were also the start of rave culture? English producer and trance DJ, Paul Oakenfold traveled to Ibiza, Spain, which at the time was more like a hippie-bohemian community. The people who inhabited Ibiza were free-spirited people and there, Oakenfold had mind-altering experiences, dancing to Balearic beats and long DJ sets that played all night. When he returned from his summer trip, he wanted to bring back that same Balearic style of music to London, and opened a club called Funhouse. It was quickly rejected because Oakenfold was simply ahead of his time.
Oakenfold realized that if the party wasn’t going to go to London, then he would have to bring London to the party. He brought all of his musical friends back to Ibiza on a week-long holiday and there they found DJ Alfredo Fiorito playing at Amnesia, a small club in Ibiza. Ibiza was a place where EDM freedom existed and it was almost as if everyone was in some sort of utopia found within the people who lived in this community. Over the next few years, Oakenfold and his friends continued to travel to Ibiza and experience that utopian culture. In 1987, the club drug ecstasy entered the EDM scene, and when Oakenfold tried to bring that style of music back to London, people willingly accepted. With the help of ecstasy, club goers became increasingly un-inhibited and wanted to spend all night dancing. That, my friends, is when rave culture was born.
A Shared Thought Process
The people of the hippie counterculture movement and the EDM scene in the late 1980’s no longer cared about what people thought of them. For example, when Paul Oakenfold returned to London from his trip in Ibiza, he ingrained that same hippie-like philosophy of “if it feels good then it is good,” into the youth of London in the late 1980’s. These two cultural movements empowered a minority of people who rebelled against the society that they lived in. Both groups shared a love of the music that reflected their beliefs of that particular time. The 1960’s was a time to rebel against the establishment, and the late 1980’s was a time for EDM lovers to stand as a united “we” rather than an individual “I” that was ingrained in society from the previous Margaret Thatcher generation. You see, both cultures shared a sense of rebellion against their society and did so through music. The music was the thread that held their generation together.
The main thing to take away from this piece, is that music has always been used to set groups of people apart from conformity. The people of those two cultural movements rebelled against “the norm” and were proud to do so. Music was used as a vessel for people to stand united during times when society was crumbling. Experimental music was used to stand apart from conformity and challenge minds into thinking about society in a deeper, more meaningful way. Movements like the Hippie Counterculture and the EDM scene, changed the way that generations of people look at their society. Music should be more than just noise. It should be a voice of a generation that propels us forward into a better tomorrow.