Sunset Strip curfew riots

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Sunset Strip curfew riots
Part of the hippie movement
Whisky A Go Go Sunset Strip.jpg
The Sunset Strip as it appeared in 2015 with the Whisky a Go Go in the foreground.
West Hollywood, California, USA
Parties to the civil conflict

The Sunset Strip curfew riots, also known as the "hippie riots", were a series of early counterculture-era clashes that took place between police and young people on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California in 1966.[1]


By the mid-1960s, The Sunset Strip had become a place dominated by young members of the hippie and rock and roll counterculture.

In 1966, the city council at the behest of business owners and residents implemented a handful of measures including nightly curfews to curtail the growing nuisance.[2] They targeted the Strip's most prominent rock club, the Whisky a Go Go, forcing its managers to change its name to the Whisk .[3] Furthermore, annoyed residents and business owners in the district had encouraged the passage of strict (10 p.m.) curfew and loitering laws to reduce the traffic congestion resulting from crowds of young club patrons.[4] This was perceived by young, local rock music fans as an infringement on their civil rights, and for weeks tensions and protests swelled. On Saturday, November 12, 1966, fliers were distributed along the Strip inviting people to demonstrate later that day.[1] Hours before the protest one of L.A.'s rock 'n' roll radio stations announced there would be a rally at Pandora's Box, a club facing forced closure and demolition at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights, and cautioned people to tread carefully.[5] That evening, as many as 1,000 youthful demonstrators, including such celebrities as Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda (who was handcuffed by police), erupted in protest against the perceived repressive enforcement of these recently invoked curfew laws.[4]

The unrest continued the next night and off and on throughout November and December. Meanwhile, the local administration had decided to get tough, and rescinded the "youth permits" of twelve of the Strip's clubs, thereby making them off-limits to anybody under 21. In November 1966, the Los Angeles City Council voted to acquire and demolish the Pandora's Box.[6] The club was eventually demolished in early August 1967.[7]

According to Timeline's Matt Reimann, the riots anticipated a cultural rift that only grew in the coming years.[3] In this light, Bob Gibson, manager of the Byrds and the Mamas and the Papas reflected: "If you had to put your finger on an event that was a barometer of the tide turning, it would probably be the Sunset Strip riots."[8]

Cultural impact[edit]

Regarding the importance of the Sunset Strip riots, The Guardian journalist Woody Haut argues that "it was, if nothing else, an early salvo in the "culture wars", a battle which continues to this day (...)."[9] He furthermore argues that the riot's most lasting effect had to do with the music that came out of the event.

The incident provided the basis for the 1967 low-budget teen exploitation film Riot on Sunset Strip,[citation needed] and inspired multiple songs:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Hajek, Danny (February 20, 2019). "A Thousand People In The Street: 'For What It's Worth' Captured Youth In Revolt". Morning Edition: American Anthem. NPR. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  2. ^ "'Anarchy on Sunset Strip': 50 years on from the 'hippie riots'". The Guardian. November 11, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Reimann, Matt (April 18, 2017). "During the Sunset Strip 'hippie riots,' young people and celebrities fought for the right to party". Timeline. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Rasmussen, Cecilia (August 5, 2007). "Closing of club ignited the 'Sunset Strip riots'". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ Priore, Domenic (2007). Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood. Jawbone Press. ISBN 978-1-906002-04-6.
  6. ^ Baker, Erwin (November 30, 1966). City Moves Swiftly to Condemn Teen Club: Ordinance Will Lead to Buying of Pandora's Box. Los Angeles Times
  7. ^ Felton, Dave (August 4, 1967). Hippies Pout, Politicians Cheer as Pandora's Box Is Wrecked. Los Angeles Times
  8. ^ Quisling, Erik (2003). Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll on the Sunset Strip. Bonus Books. ISBN 1566251974.
  9. ^ Haut, Woody (November 11, 2016). "'Anarchy on Sunset Strip': 50 years on from the 'hippie riots'". The Guardian. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  10. ^ Gilliland, John. "Show 34 – Revolt of the Fat Angel: American musicians respond to the British invaders. [Part 2]". Pop Chronicles. Episode 34. Pasadena, Calif.: University of North Texas Digital Library. KRLA 1110. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  11. ^ Rasmussen, Cecilia (August 5, 2007). "Closing of club ignited the 'Sunset Strip riots'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  12. ^ Ihnat, Gwen. "The Monkees' "Daily Nightly" introduced the rock world to the Moog".
  13. ^ "Standells, The". Nostalgia Central. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  14. ^ Griffo, Paul. "1960s Hollywood riots and kissing a Sunset pig". Retrieved July 9, 2020.

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