The 1960s: Civil Rights, Antiwar, Hippie Counterculture and…an Escape Room Challenge?

Escape rooms and entertainment are essential in a world of stress and uncertainty. Fun competition, engagement of the brain, and momentary escapism is a welcome break from the real world of bills and responsibilities. It is crucial that we set aside time to break away for a moment and transport ourselves to another time, place, and existence.

Escape challenges offers such perfect opportunities to beam ourselves into new worlds for a taste of excitement, the exotic, and even the extreme without the perils of real danger, just the experiential danger of the imagination and cosplay – Yes, there is that opportunity as well! Let’s take a look at just one of the exciting escapes we can wisk ourselves away to for a 60-minute holiday.

The swinging 60s of free love, free will, and freedoms challenged

The 60s was not a decade full of summer love. No! Political and civil unrest continued on from the 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s as if woven into the very fabric of the 20th century. The 60s were proving to be a time of uncertainty, change, growth, and opposition. As per the established trend, the new decade began with a bang.

But first some fun facts.

Technicolor and psychedelic art, pocket transistor radios, halucinogenics and Yellow Submarine.

1960: in the early 60s a new house would cost you around $12,500 in the US and £2,530 in the UK. The average income in the US was $5,315, and in the UK it was approximately £700-900. The countries of Togo, Cote D’Ivoire, Chad, Benin, Mauritania, Senegal, and the Central African Republic won their independence from France (good on them).

1961-62: the Space Race began between two formidable foes: the USSR and USA. Both of which launched their first men into Space. The World Wide Fund for Nature and the Peace Corps were created. Spiderman was ‘born’. Or bitten? The Beatles released their first single in the UK, and Wal-Mart opened its first store door.

1963-64: Martin Luther King Jr gave his “I have a Dream” speech. Doctor Who was broadcast in the UK, and the US started using zip codes to sort their mail delivery. The Ford Mustang hit the muscle car market. BASIC – computer coding language was established. Malta declared its independence from Britain.

1965-66: A loaf of bread cost only 5p and a football season ticket for £8.50 in the UK. Mary Quant designed the mini-skirt starting a fashion trend for the forseeable future. Star Trek aired its first episode. The Soviet Luna, an unmanned spacecraft landed on the moon

1967: Rolling Stone magazine launched its first issue. The first heart transplant operation was completed by Dr Christiaan Barnard.

[We’ll stop at 1967 even though exciting things continue to happen (spolier alert: Neil Armstrong walks on the Moon) because that is when we will be launched into our escapist agent roles later on…keep reading.]

History lesson of global proportions

It wasn’t only the US that made headway in the civil rights of minorities. The UK saw the integration of Commonwealth immigrants into everyday life in such places as Brixton and London’s East End. Children attended school alongside British youth, adults alike went to the same clubs and markets together, as it should be. Also, the 60s saw its first generation of teenagers free from the fear of conscription. And London breathed new life to it and the world with new theatre shows and the ‘British Invasion’ music scene. But with optimism came opposition and oppression.

1960-61: heralded in the Civil Rights movement in the US. Construction of the Berlin Wall commenced in an effort to segregate East and West Berlin. The US agreed to send 3,500 troops to Vietnam.

1962-63: The Cuban Missile Crisis is feared to bring the next World War as the United States and USSR nearly launched nuclear attacks against each other. JFK was assassinated (I’d add by Lee Harvey Oswald, but that would be a ludicrous claim). Civil rights riots continuously broke out, and the fight against communism continued. Yugoslavia became a socialist federal republic. The Profumo Affair in Britain had all the makings of a Sean Connery movie scene.

1964-65: the US aided ally South Vietnam against the oppressive Viet Cong. England abolished the death penalty, but not before it executed a man and woman for robbery and murder. By the mid-60s, minority groups such as the Black Power movement and the National Organization for Women became more militant-minded as they sought faster results to policies of reform.

1966: Indira Gandhi won the election to become the Prime Minister of India. Botswana and Lesotho won their independence from England.

1967: The Summer of Love. Beatniks and dreamers spawned hippies and flower power, marijuana, LSD, and free love. These among other themes, such as music festivals, flowers and headbands, beads, body odour, and lots of wild hair, came together to squat in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco to celebrate the freedom to experiment, congregate, and the ‘ Human Be-In’. Feminism soared to new heights with Women’s Lib and the contraceptive pill made legal for all women in England.

Before 1968 arrives to turn up the heat with more high-profile assassinations in the US and violent antiwar protests around the globe, let’s desist with the history lesson and look at your escape game scenario: what is happening in a local abandoned movie theatre here, in the UK, that has agency intelligence sounding the alarm?

Escape room mission of epic proportions

Another imminent assassination threat to execute the US Ambassador to the UK has been retrieved. The clues are leading you to the movies, well, not quite, an abandoned cinema actually, because it has been reported enemy agents have set up their mission headquarters. An assassination on UK soil will not do. Times are too precarious and you must avoid any further political embarrassment no matter what. The US Ambassador must be saved, and the agency spared any embarrassment of failure to protect diplomacy at all costs.

The mission is sure to be dangerous. It will be dark in the cinema and hard to navigate your way to finding the clues before our 60-minute window draws the curtain on the Ambassador for good.

The Bottom Line

The Swinging 60s were unlike any other time in history. Yes it had its fair share of political and social upheaval, but it did it with a unique flair that was missing from all the other drab decades. The 60s were a rainbowed, musical array of hippy sunshine that clashed with scandal, spies, and universal danger. If you were not born before the 60s, you will never experience it in real life, but you can have a taste of it all. What will your escape room version of 1967 bring?

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