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On March 19, 1967, a Trips Festival was held in the Eagles Hall in Seattle. Promoted by the wonderfully named Trips Lansing and managed by Sid Clark, the event was a combination of live music, light shows, and a variety of other sensual experiences in the tradition that had been established at the Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco in 1966.
The Seattle Trips Festival began at noon. More than 6,000 attendees paid $3 each to get seriously wide and high. There was a large gold Buddha statue with emerald green eyes towering over the audience in the ballroom, of course there was. You wouldn’t want it any other way.
Coloured lights played along the wall, some of which were created by squeezing colored liquid between two plates of glass held before the beam of an open projector. Strobe lights added to the effect, giving the dancers the illusion of stop-motion photography. As one young girl described it at the time, “It’s like you were put in a barrel and then light and sound were poured in.” Wow that sounds very far out.
In one of the side rooms, writer Tom Robbins presented something called “Family Entertainment,” a performance piece in which four actors alternately spoke only the lines, “Mommy,” “Daddy,” “Bow-Wow,” and “I Love You.” Fantastic. I’d love to have seen that. There’s nothing like a bit of radical theatre for making any day better.
Vendors in display booths sold love beads, stick incense, buttons, and hookahs. A “Psychedelicatessan” served up green jello, pickles, painted Easter eggs, and frozen bananas in chocolate sauce for anyone who had the munchies, which was probably everyone. I absolutely love this. That sounds like a good business to me, I bet you could make a living doing that even now.
The show was briefly interrupted at 9:45 p.m., when the Seattle Fire Department issued manager Sid Clark a citation for violating city fire ordinances. This sounds like The Man trying to interrupt the fun out of uptight malice. Clark protested, calling the citation a “bum rap,” (does anyone use the term bum rap anymore?) and stated that fire inspectors examined the auditorium twice during the day and had given their approval, so back off boogaloo. Some of the paper decorations were taken down to placate the tight-asses, and the show went on until midnight.
Police were also on hand and although the crowd was very orderly, some officers expressed disgust over the hippies’ apparent disregard for laws regarding “conduct, narcotics, and drug abuse.” Yeah, they’ll do that, baby.
One policeman was nonplussed by the whole scene, telling a reporter from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “We let the Fifties have their Beatniks. Let the Sixties have their hippies. It’s weird, all right, but they’ll all work out. It’s just a game, really, just a game.” And man, that dude was right. What is life if it isn’t just a game? His attitude was, ironically enough, the coolest of all.
The complete bill was, Crome Syrcus, Don & the Goodtimes, Emergency Exit, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, The Electric Prunes