The Trips Festival took place in San Francisco over three days, January 21-23, 1966. Quotes from Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test:
The Trips Festival was billed as a big celebration that was going to simulate an LSD experience, minus the LSD, using light effects and music, mainly....
“An LSD experience without LSD”—that was a laugh. In fact, the heads are pouring in by the hundreds, bombed out of their gourds, hundreds of heads coming out into the absolute open for the first time....
A hulking crazed whirlpool. That’s nice. Lights and movies sweeping around the hall; five movie projectors going and God knows how many light machines, interferrometrics, the intergalactic science-fiction seas all over the walls, loudspeakers studding the hall all the way around like flaming chandeliers, strobes exploding, black lights with Day-Glo objects under them and Day-Glo paint to play with, street lights at every entrance flashing red and yellow, two bands, the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company and a troop of weird girls in leotards leaping around the edges blowing dog whistles—and the Pranksters....
Three nights the huge wild carnival went on. It was a big thing on every level. For one thing, the Trips Festival grossed $12,500 in three days, with almost no overhead, and a new nightclub and dance-hall genre was born. Two weeks later Bill Graham was in business at the Fillmore auditorium with a Trips Festival going every weekend and packing them in. For the acid heads themselves, the Trips Festival was like the first national convention of an underground movement that had existed on a hush-hush cell-by-cell basis. The heads were amazed at how big their own ranks had become—and euphoric over the fact that they could come out in the open, high as baboons, and the sky, and the law, wouldn’t fall down on them. The press went along with the notion that this had been an LSD experience without the LSD. Nobody in the hip world of San Francisco had any such delusion, and the Haight-Ashbury era began that weekend.
Here is some video from the Festival. The music is the Grateful Dead playing "Viola Lee Blues":
The Dead's first album was released in 1967. Everyone agreed it failed to capture the band's live sound. It wasn't a hit ... there wasn't much interest in it as a Top 40 tune, and FM "Underground" radio was a few months away. There was a single from that album, and it got played on Bay Area radio ... I had to have heard it somewhere (I was 13). I was never a Dead Head, and the A-side of the single, "The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)", remains a favorite of mine to this day ... it's a lovely fantasy of life in the Haight in 1967:
See that girl, barefootin' along,
Whistlin' and singin', she's a carryin' on.
There's laughing in her eyes, dancing in her feet,
She's a neon-light diamond and she can live on the street.Hey hey, hey, oh, by the way, come and (party every day)
Hey hey, hey, oh, by the way, come and (party every day)Well everybody's dancin' in a ring around the sun
Nobody's finished, we ain't even begun.
So take off your shoes, child, and take off your hat.
Try on your wings and find our where it's at.Hey hey, hey, come (party every day)
Hey hey, hey, come (party every day)Take a vacation, fall out for a while,
Summer's comin' in, and it's goin' outa style.
Well lite up smokin' buddy, have yourself a ball.
Cause your mother's down in Memphis, won't be back 'till the fall.Hey hey, hey, come right away
Come and join the (party every day)
I can't overstate how much this was all part of my ambition in 1967: to be a hippie.