What Was It Like During High School In The ’60s
via The Beatles/YouTube
The 1960s was a tumultuous time. The social and political climate were changing, the Vietnam War continued to rage on leaving thousands of Americans to take to the streets and protest, rock ‘n roll began dominating the airwaves. There was no social media, no internet, no streaming services. If you wanted to have fun, you go out and have fun because you didn’t have the option to stay at home while chatting with friends, watching Netflix, and then chilling.
Let’s take a look at what it was like being in high school in the ’60s:
1. From the Vietnam War to the civil rights movement, there was increasing awareness about politics and racial injustice even among teenagers. There were riots and protests. Male high school students also waited anxiously if they were going to be drafted and sent to Vietnam.
2. Surfing was all the rage thanks in part to The Beach Boys singing all about the Californian surfing culture even though only Dennis Wilson was the actual surfer among them. Those living near beaches wanted to dye their hair blonde too because, why not?
3. Schools were crowded and noisy – not even half as cool and fun as Hollywood often portrayed them to be. There were plenty of opportunities for extra-curricular activities like drama clubs but for sports teams, they were just for male high school students. Because there was no internet and little in the way of after-school activities, teens hung out with friends almost every day.
4. There were no computers and cellphones. If you had to do research, you needed to spend hours at the library. You don’t get answers to your questions in mere seconds. There’s no Wikipedia so there was no way you could copy and paste when your term paper was due.
5. At home, almost everyone had TV sets but they had only around five channels – no MTV yet. But everyone tuned in to The Ed Sullivan Show when The Beatles made their US debut. The Fab Four won the hearts of millions of teenage girls that night.
6. Rock was taking off and becoming increasingly popular with the mainstream audience. From Bill Haley & the Comets to Elvis Presley, rock music dominated the airwaves.
7. There was strict dress code for everyone, even the teachers. Girls were required to wear skirts or dresses that were at least knee-length – pants were prohibited. For boys, they needed to wear slacks and clean shirts with collars.
8. Parents, especially the conservative ones, forbid teens from listening to rock ‘n roll because they still believed it was the devil’s music. However, musicians like Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Mamas & the Papas proved that there were many facets of rock. It wasn’t just loud and noisy music.
9. Artists also took advantage of their platform to make a stand against racial discrimination and inequality which helped send the message across to teens. Bob Dylan’s The Times They Were A Changin’ is the perfect example of a ’60s song that remains relevant today. Listening to tracks with such a powerful message like this stays with you as a teen.
10. In the 1960s, there was no Walkman, no portable CD player, or and definitely no streaming services. If you wanted to buy your favorite band’s new album, you had to go on a trip down the local record store and buy them. You can’t bring them anywhere with you or play the LP anytime. It was tough being a teen music lover back then, you can’t make your own playlist with a few clicks.