By Rosie McGee
At least every few months for some years, someone contacts me to say they ‘saw me on TV!’, or they post on social media a film clip from 1967’s Human Be-In in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. That ubiquitous film clip, used in nearly every documentary about the Sixties and the Haight, shows me dancing onstage with the Grateful Dead, dressed in a see-through paisley mini-dress, sparkling necklaces and knee high ‘go-go boots’; having one of the best times of my life.
At the time, I was living with members of the Dead in the nearby Haight-Ashbury. The Be-In was a revelation to all of us in that, largely through word of mouth and some posters and handbills, over 20,000 people came together in the park to enjoy community, live music, peace, psychedelics (still legal) and a gorgeous day full of fun and optimism.
Before then, ‘like-minded folks’, as I like to call them – the politically-savvy folks in Berkeley; the last of the Beatniks in North Beach; the later-to-be-named Hippies scattered around the Bay Area; and those of us in the Haight – all thought we were ‘alone’ with our friends in our search for a love-based lifestyle of freedom.
The Be-In changed all that, when over 20,000 of us unexpectedly met each other; got high together; had a wonderful day; had no problems whatsoever; and went home that night, forever changed by the experience
And what became of the girl who danced onstage that memorable day 50 years ago? I still live and celebrate those ideals of peace and community; do my best to remain optimistic in admittedly challenging times; stayed in touch all these years with many friends who were there that day; and still go out frequently to hear live music, which is critical to maintaining my mental health. And yes, I still dance my spirit right out of my body, as well as this aging body allows – just not onstage.
© Rosie McGee, www.rosiemcgee.com, January 2017
Rosie McGee is a photographer, public speaker and author of “Dancing with the Dead—A Photographic Memoir”. She travels widely, sharing her photos and stories of her ‘good old days’ living and working with the Dead, and in the heart of the early-days San Francisco music scene. www.rosiemcgee.com.