48 years ago: Human Be-In at the Polo Fields

48 years ago yesterday, on January 14, 1967, the historic Human Be-In took place at the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park.

The event, officially titled the “A Gathering of Tribes”, was organized to protest the bourgeois mentality of the older generations and, specifically, a California law passed the year before making LSD illegal.

At the time, San Francisco’s hippie counter-culture was fast growing and the event was a precursor to the city’s “Summer of Love”, epicentered in the nearby Haight Ashbury.

The one-day event drew an estimated 30,000 people to the Polo Fields, and featured appearances by the Grateful Dead, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Dick Gregory and Owsley “Bear” Stanley handing out acid to the crowd (who was also the sound engineer for The Grateful Dead).

The Human Be-In garnered national media attention, and firmly planted the hippie movement into America’s consciousness (and San Francisco as its home base). The gathering served as a prototype for many 1960s counter culture celebrations.

In 2004, Dino posted his memories of the event to outsidelands.org.

“Yes, I attended the first Human Be In at the Polo Fields in 1967. I was 15 and it was more of a hugh consciousness raising event which announced to the world that the hip/peace movement was here and growing while the times were about to be a changin’. I saw Allen Ginsburg and Timothy Leary and some barely dressed ladies while folk rock and poetry went Psychedelic. I was amazed and it changed my life. I would not be the same person today without that experience.”

Were you at the Human Be-In in 1967? Leave a comment to let us know.

Peace and love,

Sarah B.

Photo courtesy of The Allen Ginsberg Project


  1. Hey Sarah, thanks for the cool post, though it didn’t sound like Dino considered the event “infamous” 🙂 Exposing my geezerhood, I was also a young teenager at the time (one who’d grown up in the hood !) and neither did I consider the event infamous…

  2. Yeah, what’s up with “infamous”? “Infamous” implies something bad happened.
    I was there (and I remember it). Nothing bad happened. This was the Love-In that gave Love-Ins a good name.
    Anyway, I can see myself in the video, I was right up front at the stage and even sitting on the stage for part of the Grateful Dead’s set.

  3. Relax guys! Infamous was a misuse on my part, not meant to insinuate anything. I wouldn’t have written the article otherwise! 🙂

    Sarah B.

  4. And another thing; that poster is bogus. Santana and The Steve Miller Band did not play nor were they advertised, and in fact the Santana band didn’t even exist at that time (and the photographs of the bands used on the poster both date to 1969). Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service did play. And the photo of Tim Leary on the poster is actually a photo from the event the poster is allegedly promoting! Just letting you know.

    I did hear Timothy Leary announce “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”. I went back to the 8th grade the following monday.

  5. Peter, at least you went back ! 🙂 Luckily cutting didn’t get one expelled back then – had my teachers cut me less slack I might have been a dropout (and thus have taken Leary literally).

  6. I was a pre-teen at Roosevelt Jr. High at the time and was totally unaware of that event. None of my classmates talked about it. My brother and I rode our bikes in GG Park every Sunday near the museums and we were totally in the dark. We do remember seeing and hearing hippie bands play at the Music Concourse and strangely dressed people. They way they looked really scared us and so we didn’t ride our bikes in the park for several weeks after that. Our park had changed and we didn’t understand what was happening.

  7. Unaware pre-teen here, too. Wish I’d been a bit more savvy & adventurous back then, ’cause this would’ve been a landmark experience! We lived on 45th & Cabrillo, so REALLY close to the Park. Way sheltered, I guess. Got rather less sheltered a few years down the line & had some good times in GGP… (Hi Wendy!)

Comments are closed.