The Swinging Sixties ?

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2017
The decade was labeled, by the media, and even some foolish academics, politicians and religious leaders, as the 'Swinging Sixties'.
The word 'swinging' originally meant 'lively', 'exciting', and 'fashionable' - but more colloquially just 'good'.
(it also had a slightly less acceptable meaning as 'sexually liberated' or 'promiscuous').
One could easily 'imagine' John Lennon describing something that he liked - in his (somewhat labored Liverpudlian accent) as 'swinging' - with an emphasis on the 'ing'.
The use, or overuse of this term was presumably because of the fall, or relaxation of social taboos especially relating to racism (?) and sexism that occurred during this time.
This era has been described as a classical 'Jungian' nightmare cycle, where a rigid culture, unable to contain the demands for greater individual freedom, broke free of the social constraints of the previous age through various deviations from the norm.
In addition, several Western nations, such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, and West Germany, turned to the political left in the early and mid-1960s.
It was during this decade, that young people began to 'revolt' against the conservative norms of the time, as well as remove themselves from mainstream 'liberalism', in particular the high level of apparent materialism which was so common in the USA and Western Europe during the era.
This created a so called 'counterculture' (which in actuality was a rag bag of numerous cultural phenomena of previous decades - including a hint of 'Art Deco' and 'Art Nouveau', mixed in with dregs of Da Da and Surrealism, and a splach of 'Sturm und Drang' and 'Late Romanticism'), that sparked a certain degree of social revolution throughout much of the Western world.
It began in the United States as a reaction against the conservatism and social conformity of the Eisenhower period of the 1950s, and the U.S. government's later extensive military intervention in Vietnam.
Subsequently, the youth involved in the popular social aspects of the movement became known as 'hippies'.
These groups created a movement toward what they saw as a liberation of society, including the sexual revolution, questioning authority and government, and demanding more freedoms and rights for women and minorities.
The 'Underground Press', was prominent, and was a widespread, eclectic collection of newspapers and magazines that served as a unifying medium for the counterculture.
The movement was also marked by the first widespread, use of drugs other than alcohol and tobacco, (including LSD and marijuana) and the development of what was known as 'psychedelic' (mind expanding) music.

The 'Swinging Sixties' did not begin in 1960, however - and, oddly, for some people, they never began - and although they lived through the decade, there was no 'swinging' for them.
This, of course, often included the socially disadvantaged, the elderly and the poor.
It was a fact that, in England, the further that you lived away from the center of London, the longer it took for the 'Swinging Sixties' to come to you - and in many cases it never did.
Although it is rarely admitted, the true 'swinging sixties' was a metropolitan phenomena, which in most cases barely reached out to the London suburbs, let alone the Shires.
Not only was it a metropolitan phenomena - it was also a phenomena that involved a remarkably small number of people - who, not surprisingly, all knew one another, and all worked very hard to create this glittering 'chimera'.
In fact, the 'Swinging Sixties' was as much a creation of the media, and the entertainment and music industry,  as it was of idealistic, supposedly forward-looking youth, and it should be realized that it made a small number of people - some of whom were very young, (and surprisingly not all Londoners) very, very rich.
So while some were coming up with ideas such as 'all you need is love', and 'imagine no possessions', they were, at the same time, purchasing Rolls Royces, and buying mansions and estates in the English countryside, and abroad.

The Beatles - after.....
The Beatles - before they were famous
While the decade is remembered by many for the considerable popularity of a certain music group known as the 'Beatles' - it is significant to note that they were, in actuality, out-sold, in terms of sales of LP's (LP's are long playing, microgroove, vinyl discs - played on a record player - for those not familiar with the term) by the likes of Messrs Rogers and Hammerstein - the originators of that terribly 'uncool' musical 'The Sound of Music'.

for more information about 'the Beatles' follow this link: 'This England - Music'


video
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2017
   
And who bought all that 'uncool' music ?
Well obviously those who ignored (or were ignored by) the 'Swinging Sixties'.
Our Pete, of course, lived very close to London, and he had relatives (Uncle Dick and Auntie Gladys) who actually lived almost in the very heart of that 'swinging' capital - just a few minutes walk away from Oxford Street - and not far the the 'world famous 'Carnaby Street'.
The first boutique in Carnaby Street, 'His Clothes', was opened by John Stephen in 1958 and was followed by 'I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet', 'Kleptomania', 'Mates', 'Ravel', and others. By the 1960s, Carnaby Street was popular with followers of the 'mod' and 'hippie' styles. Many independent fashion boutiques, and designers such as Mary Quant, Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin, Lord John, Merc, Take Six, and Irvine Sellars had premises in the street, and various underground music bars such as the 'Roaring Twenties' opened in the surrounding streets. Bands such as the 'Small Faces', 'The Who', and 'Rolling Stones' appeared in the area to work (at the legendary 'Marquee Club' round the corner in Wardour Street), shop, and socialize, and it became one of the 'coolest' destinations associated with 1960's 'swinging' London.



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