On March 19, 1967, a Trips Festival is held in the Eagles Hall in Seattle. Promoted by Trips Lansing and managed by Sid Clark, the event is a combination of live music, light shows, and a variety of other sensual experiences.
The Light Fantastic
The first Trips Festival was held in San Francisco in January, 1966, and was a joint effort of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, and The Living Theatre. One of the financial sponsors at the first festival was Augustus Owsley Stanley III, who provided the amplifiers and other electronic equipment for the bands, as well as LSD, which he manufactured for free distribution at the event.
The festival was a big hit with the hippies, and the concept spread to other cites up and down the coast, and as far away as the Village Theatre in Greenwich Village. The event was intended to simulate an LSD experience, whether the participants dropped acid or not. It was a feast for all the senses: Music blared, lights flashed, incense burned, crowds drew close, and there was plenty of food and drink for all.
The Seattle Trips Festival began at noon, and throughout the day more than 6,000 attendees paid $3 each to enjoy the experience. A large gold Buddha statue with emerald green eyes towered over the audience in the ballroom, and many danced to such bands as The Seeds, Emergency Exit, and The Daily Flash. Colored 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, “It’s like you were put in a barrel and then light and sound were poured in.”
In one of the side rooms, writer Tom Robbins presented, “Family Entertainment,” a performance piece in which four actors alternately spoke only the lines, “Mommy,” “Daddy,” “Bow-Wow,” and “I Love You.” 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.
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. Clark protested, calling the citation a “bum rap,” and stated that fire inspectors examined the auditorium twice during the day and had given their approval. Some of the paper decorations were taken down, 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.” 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.”