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polecat12's avatar

What is the origin of the 60s term "be-in"?

Asked by polecat12 (9points) 2 weeks ago

‘Be in’ was a spontaneous event, usually musical, but soon it became a way of announcing almost anything. I covered as a reporter quite a few. Vancouver was a busy counter culture spot so there were plenty. Always with a public health van there in anticipation of drug overdoses or any medical emergency. Is the phrase as obvious as it could be, or not?

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32 Answers

janbb's avatar

In the States, a “be in’ was a particular type of gathering, usually by hippies hanging out and enjoying themselves. I assume the derivation came from the idea that you should “be in” that place at that time and also “be in” a good head.

In addition, there were also “happenings” which were more scheduled in advance.

LostInParadise's avatar

The term may be related to sit-ins, which were a popular form of protest during the 60’s.

ragingloli's avatar

Maybe it is derived from the french “en vogue”.

polecat12's avatar

It’s likely as simple as it seems to be. “O’ to be in ??? where all the folks are groovy’, damn that sounds dated.

I liked the ‘en vogue’ as a could be. I’ll follow that with a question. Does ‘be spoke’ mean simply tailor made?

JLoon's avatar

Waaaay before my time, but I’m guessing it could have been taken from the Zen concept of fully “being in” each moment in time.

Jeruba's avatar

First there were “sit-ins,” which began during the Civil Rights Movement of the late fifties and early sixties. Sit-ins were civil rights protest events, initially inspired by the passive resistance of Mahatma Gandhi, by way of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Then there were “love-ins,” which was a hippie phenomenon originating in San Francisco.

Then there were “be-ins.”

It wasn’t before my time.

janbb's avatar

@polecat12 Yes, “bespoke” (one word) means custom made as in already spoken for. That has nothing to do with “be in” though.

Strauss's avatar

As @Jeruba explained, the “be-in” followed the sit-ins and live-ins. The idea behind the be-in was just to show up and “be”. The concept came at least in part from Be Here Now, or Remember, Be Here Now, a 1971 book on spirituality, yoga and meditation by the American yogi and spiritual teacher Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert).

It wasn’t before my time either!

Jeruba's avatar

And Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary were the two Harvard professors who tried out LSD on themselves and some Harvard students in 1962, well before it became illegal. Their careers changed after that.

So did the culture. First it was just the sixties, and then it was The Sixties.

“Blowin’ in the Wind” came out in 1962.

Jeruba's avatar

Hey there, @Strauss, and keep on truckin’.

janbb's avatar

Tune in, turn on, drop out.

kritiper's avatar

To be “in” was to be in fashion. Hip. “With it.”
I’ve never heard the term with “be—.”
It’s in. It’s cool. It’s happening.
Possibly originated with the beatniks of the 50’s that preceded the hippies of the 60’s.
EVERYONE wanted to be “in.” If you weren’t in, you were probably a square.

Jeruba's avatar

Different expression, @kritiper. The one you cite is said “be IN” (like “if you want to be IN with the IN crowd”), and it’s a verb plus preposition. The event @polecat12 is speaking about is said “BE-in,” accent on the first word. You speak of a “be-in” using a hyphenated noun phrase, just like a “sit-in.”

Jeruba's avatar

From Hair, 1968 Broadway treatment: “be-in” at about 1:20.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Onp-l9NAZVk

Damn, the sixties were fun.

zenvelo's avatar

It started with the “Human Be-in” in Golden Gate Park in January of 1967. As an alternative to sit ins, it was to come to the park and “be”. A pun on Human Being. It was a prelude to the Summer of Love.

kritiper's avatar

@Jeruba Never heard of it and my dictionary doesn’t list it.

janbb's avatar

@kritiper So maybe you just learned something.

gondwanalon's avatar

I was born in 1951 and never heard anyone say, “be in”.

I was never a hippie. They seemed so phony, wired and a colossal waste.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, I guess you were a little young for it, @gondwanalon.

gorillapaws's avatar

@gondwanalon I know right? Not like hippies ever contributed anything to art, music, film or would go on to found the highest market cap company in the world or anything?

@Jeruba That was a great answer. So “in” became a de facto suffix for gatherings, just like we append “gate” onto anything remotely controversial these days?

Jeruba's avatar

Thank you.

Sort of, yes. (“Gate” is mostly for some kind of scandal, though.) I halfway recall marketing attempts to co-opt it. It didn’t really generalize very readily. And about as fast as new language came along, it “sold out” and lost its currency, as did, for example “hallucinogenic.” Didn’t we see store ads for hallucinogenic apparel? By the time tie-dye went mainstream, it was time for something else.

Even today I cringe when I hear a Muzak treatment of a Dylan tune.

Jeruba's avatar

Oops, I meant “psychedelic” there ^^^ (2x), not “hallucinogenic.” Remember “psychedelic”?

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba I was born in 1951 and yet fully remember be-ins, sit-ins and psychedelia. I was never a full-fledged hippie, being too focused on my education, liberal artsy though it was, but I certainly had leanings.

Perhaps we should ask the oldsters, “Are you now, or have you every been, a hippie?”

kritiper's avatar

Never heard it on “Laugh In.”
@janbb Maybe I did learn something. For what it might be worth. Here’s a word you may not be familiar with. “Daylighted.” It’s a term many mechanics might be familiar with, and it isn’t shown in the dictionary either. Use: “The block was daylighted.”

Strauss's avatar

“Laugh-in” derived its name from the same concept.

Jeruba's avatar

^^^ Yes, it sure did. And the Wikipedia article says this:

The title of the show was a play on the 1960s hippie culture “love-ins” or the counterculture “be-ins”, terms that were derived from “sit-ins” that were common in protests associated with civil rights and antiwar demonstrations of the time.

The concept was familiar enough at that time that the name wouldn’t have needed any explanation on the Laugh-In show.

gondwanalon's avatar

@gorillapaws There are exceptions to most things. All the hippies that I met were pretty pathetic.

gondwanalon's avatar

@Jeruba HA! You crack me up!

lonesome-dog's avatar

I was too old to be a hippy and slightly too young to be a beatnik, Born in 1936, just in time for an appalling war, and if your thinking worked as you grew into an adult, generally pissed off with the boring 50s – actually the 50s is the only decade with little to recommend it, unless you happened to be a ‘serious’ anti-communist.

By about 1965 things were greatly improving: Rock around the Clock (1955), a simple but catchy tune had evolved into some really complex and musically intelligent stuff. Think Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone, or Donavon, Catch the Wind, the Rollin Stones I Can’t get no Satisfaction, music that did what music is supposed to do, turn the world around. And that’s not me, that’s Aristotle.

It was great to be a witness to it all, really a witness as a reporter and sometime participant in the ‘Revolution’. Someone said it was just ‘boring’ and ‘superficial’ – maybe so but not all of it by any means.

You can always tell when change is scary. Watch the traditional comics and entertainers: at first there’s lots of cute and denigrating jokes and sketches about long hair or the change in language. It gets serious when the perception causes fear. I can remember Bob Hope leaving ‘em in the aisles with mockery, but that soon changed. No more ‘look at the length of that hair” rather, “I’d like to string him up by that dirty hair.”

So to those who don’t remember it well, take a look around, the results are everywhere, often very impressive.

gondwanalon's avatar

@211236 You talk about music. The music that first captivated me as a child were the big band music also I love Cole Porter and the old country music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys and also early jazz. Rock and Roll music was cool but not as fascinating to me as the older types of music.
I can’t stand hippity hop rap (I don’t think it quite qualifies as music).
I think that I was born one generation too late. Instead of 1951 I should have been born in 1921.

lonesome-dog's avatar

Among my favorites too, but don’t dismiss all of today. Granted gangsta Rap ain’t receiving approval here but I urge you to listen to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five doing The Message, it’s very much music, and not to be missed. It raises to the Aristotelian standard of changing the world. And there many others just as important as Dylan or Donavan but for a black audience.

And that’s likely it, how can you expect a black kid from the Bronx to share your love of Bob Wills (I’m from Alberta, Bob Wills is home) but try some of the best of Rap and think of it as vocal Jazz, or modern scat. It can be very much music.

I remember that my youthful rejection of country music had more to do with self image than a good ear. It sent me to jazz, where I discovered that no one plays piano like Bill Evans, or Basie, or Earle Garner or about a dozen more.

As for rock & roll, it’s today’s ‘classical’ music, had Mozart been around, he would have written stuff for Pentangle or Queen or? fill in the blank. We tend to be very dismissive of the arts of our own time. Just as people in Mozart’s day saw him as an undisciplined showoff. If you can stand to sit through one of his operas, I’m sure you’ll agree. And don’t forget, just like today, there was some terrible songs and music cranked out in the past. Happily, it hasn’t survived.

Finally, 1921 is not a really great date to be born, when you reach the age of majority in 1941 the Powers that be are kicking the shit out of one another. Welcome to WWII and all the resulting wars. Today’s really neat, I recommend it highly.

gondwanalon's avatar

You are very open minded and reasonable.
Rap seems to me to be a form of vocal poetry with a drum beat and someone banging on a keyboard. I don’t find it enjoyable (I walked out at the intermission of the “musical”. Play “Hamilton”. Where’s the music? To me it was like there was a continuous debate with a drum beat. Of course a lot of people love it. It’s seems to be the in thing nowadays. This too shall change. I left at intermission of “Rents” too. I just suffered from the first scene on. Love most musicals like “Evita”, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the oldies of course. They actually have music.

My grandfather introduced me to Bob Wills music. He played some of Bob Wills music with his violin in bands or anyone who he could get to play with him.

Being born in 1921 is a good time for music and letting the greatness in you to shine. Someone said that we are at our best when things are at there worst. That’s so true.

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