The most widely-circulated photographs of the USSR in the 1960s portray it as a bleak period in time where the struggles always outweighed life’s simple pleasures. That’s quite a difference from the 1960s of “free love” that we’re familiar with here in the US. Life in the Soviet Union was tough to be sure, but let’s take a moment to enjoy seeing photographs of the good times that were had,
’60s Soviet Dancing
Dancing is a great way to let off steam now, so why would that have been any different in the USSR of the ’60s? Dancing helped urbanize the Russian youth community and soon going out in groups became the escape from undesirable professional and home lives. Men experienced much more freedom when it came to leisure activities. But for women, dancing the night away was a much-needed escape from the confines of USSR reality.
Chess in the Soviet Union
The Soviet Chess School opened up a new world of opportunity in the USSR. Before World War 2, chess was a game for the upper-class and well-known journalists. By the time the ’60s rolled around, the game became a national pastime in the Soviet Union and was referred to as a sport as opposed to a game.
Women and men had to exercise in separate groups during the Soviet Era. Pictured above, we see two female friends getting out of the house and working their muscles effectively. Walking as a form of exercise was cost effective, and also was a way to spend time with good friends and to hopefully forget (at least for a while) about the hardships of everyday life.
The Soviet Beach Scene
The beach is a timeless classic when it comes to outdoor activity and fun, but back in the USSR the beaches were home to summer-resort spots. Many of these resorts are still in business today and bring in a large number of tourists. These resorts were fairly exclusive back in the day.
The Soviet Picnic Scene
Pictured above is a picnic scene during the 1960s Soviet Era. The culture of the USSR had developed culturally, but the citizens who were encouraged to conform to the rules of the Union’s government had to find ways to be free in their personal lives while being apart of a larger group.
The ’60s Were Still Wild
The youth of the ’60s Soviet Era still managed to have their fair share of fun! The younger communities would work together to throw rock ‘n’ roll parties and often raved during the time. In any case, this isn’t the osrt of imagery of the USSR that we’re familiar with. It looks quite similar to the ’60s in America, don’t you think?
The Soviet Union witnessed a massive increase in population after 1959. By 1970 the population had increased by about 190 million people since the end of the second World War. The baby boom was a big contribution to Russian society, even if famine and poverty did not allow for all of the population to flourish for a couple of decades.
Farming during the Soviet Era had its up and downs, but the agricultural sector mainly stayed down until the 1970s emerged. Farming was a collectivized sector with almost no private plots for personal use. That being said, during the ’60s, a Soviet farmer could at least always depend on the great outdoors and the familiarity with the land to pass the time. Even if it wasn’t theirs to grow food on.
Men’s Style in the Soviet Union
Fashion in the USSR made a change for the better in the 1960s. Men were now wearing Hawaiian shirts and shorter shorts, although the older gentlemen still stuck to their brown and gray suits. In 1959, Dior made its debut in the Soviet Union just in time for the swinging ’60s.
Soviet Beach Shorts
Soviet Union style during the ’60s was fairly lax on the beach, especially for men. If the government could have had things their way, shorts this short and the newly-introduced bikini would be banned. However, it became difficult to set apart western trends from city trends during the ’60s and at least the men could get away with dressing more unconventionally.
Children’s Swimming Pool
Pictured above are Soviet children swimming in a place they probably shouldn’t be. For parents who brought their children to work or for farmers who worked alongside their children, this was just one way they kept the kids occupied. Hopefully, they received their tetanus shots before going for a dip…
USSR Racing Cars
Racing cars in the USSR became of immense interest in the ’60s. Racing may have been approved, but each car only approved to race if it was manufactured within the Union, leaving no room for foreign cars. Regardless, going to the races on the weekend became a fun way to escape from the pressures of life during the weekdays.
The Soviet Music Scene in the ’60s
Music during the ’60s often had an anti-establishment agenda that opposed the awful oppression of “the man.” In the ’60s Soviet Era, pop-rock bands had to be approved and fall under certain guidelines that the public could listen to. Much like fashion and other areas of censored pop culture, an underground following soon cultivated and rock bands played what they wanted…illegally.
The Architecture Still Stands Strong
Russian architecture was and still is some of the most beautiful in the world. Structures created during the Soviet Union were often referred to as Stalinist Architecture, Socialist Classicism, or Empire Style. Interest in the Soviet style of buildings has rapidly increased over the past two decades.
Choir Practice in the USSR
Pictured above is a personal shot of a choir ensemble or stage performers. Artistic expression became an important lifestyle component in the ’60s and those who lived under the suppression of the USSR were still going to shine. Like rock musicians, most stage and choir performances set to appear to the public were under restrictions that limited what they could perform.
The Soviet Waterway
Water usage during the USSR was monitored alongside agricultural progress. By the ’60s, water flow had decreased from the USSR’s surrounding bodies of water, but the Soviet way of doing things was based on the exploitation of natural resources. It wasn’t until after the ’80s that there was a much-needed water surplus.
Traffic in the Soviet Union
Traffic codes and violations were a hefty price to pay during Soviet reign, but they didn’t make the streets any less beautiful. Tram transportation had become limited in the ’60s for the Soviets, but they still found ways to get around in their custom-made vehicles. The population increase would soon make streets quite difficult to navigate.
Soviet Street Art
In the ’60s, Soviet Union art had taken a non-conformist stance. Artists at the time were refusing to conform to the Socialist regime and what their standards of art were. But even with this new wave of counter-culture, art during the Soviet ’60s wasn’t as liberal as people would have hoped it would be.
Ballet of the Soviet Era
Russian ballet was a major component of the USSR’s culture, especially during the ’60s. In 1961, the Soviet Union and the dance world were both shocked by the defection of Russian ballet dancer, Rudolf Nureyev. The defection, which led to many other ballerinas’ exits from the world of Russian ballet, exposed the Soviet propaganda as a false interpretation of artistic freedom.
Soviet Streets in the ’60s
Soviet streets in the 1960s were charming, to say the least. Food stands, beverage trucks, and everyday, simple pleasures could be enjoyed on the commute work or en route to your home. Double-decker trolleys were often seen throughout the streets when traffic was bearable, and the city was still as pretty as you could imagine.
Book Stands in the USSR
During the Soviet reign, book stands could be found on the streets of the Republic. In order to sell books to the public, salesmen and bookstore owners needed to follow the guidelines and rules as to what could be sold and what couldn’t. Similar to music and artistry, the Soviet agenda was expected to be pushed on everyone and spoken of in a positive light.
Orphans in the Soviet Union
During the 1960s, there was a surge of adoption amongst the Soviet orphan community. Many orphanages were turned into boarding schools and refuges for handicapped children. A large number of orphans in the ’50s and the ’60s had parents but left home because of neglect and abuse.
Shopping in the Soviet Union
Pictured above is a food market during the Soviet Era. In the 1960s, food prices were on the rise, even with an agricultural success bump, and shopping for groceries was a bit difficult and crowded. Food lines were usually very long, but if you played the game properly you were a satisfied customer with fresh veggies.
Soviet Working Days
Communal units were common during the Soviet Era. Full-time employment, post-Stalin, was mandatory and the population was required to report to work daily. Somehow, there wasn’t a cause for strikes in the Soviet Union during the ’60s, mainly because the average employee was always compensated for good work. Either that or all strikes were quickly stopped.
Soviet Yoga (Or Something Like It)
The Soviet Union certainly embraced its yoga passion! Yoga is an age-old activity in Russia and was commonly used for exercise and psychological benefits, something they’ve been utilizing since the 19th century. The men pictured above are probably at an expert level…
Farm Girls Of The 60’s
The agricultural field may have had its problems during the 60’s, but at least this farm girl looks like a total bad girl. This perfectly captured photo proves that even when your profession is going through a rough patch, you can make the most of it doing what you love. From this picture, we definitely believe she enjoyed herding with her horse.
Soviet Era Art Exhibits
Fine art in the Soviet Union was an important piece of the government puzzle. While many artists adhered the propaganda that the government wanted them to portray in their work, there were many artists who refused to paint what they were told. Soviet Era art was considered one of the finest and most crucial in art history.
Soviet Performance Art
During the 1960’s Soviet art become non-traditional and non-conformist after the death of Stalin. Russian performance art, especially ballet, was thriving underneath Soviet regime, but some artists and dancers found themselves supporting the underground genre.
Soviet Social Life
Social life during the Soviet Era depended on the city you lived in, but once communal living became a thing of the past outdoor activities were a must. People came together in groups on beaches or at parks to converse and relax. Who your friends also depended on social class.
Architectural Legacy Of The Soviet
Some of the Soviet Union’s wildest architecture has left a long legacy. When we come across a colorful photograph of the landscapes and buildings the Soviets left behind, we’re reminded that they still lived in a post-war era that was being rebuilt. Even with a government that pushed a conformist agenda, the physical environment of the USSR was intended to remain unique and diverse.
Swimming Pools in the Soviet
Pictured above, we find more children enjoying the freedom to swim wherever they want. We don’t necessarily believe that they were allowed to swim in a city fountain, but a child’s mind doesn’t really come with too many inhibitions. At the very least, at least they’re having a good time outside.
Soviet Era Hotels Are Still Around
Soviet Era hotels usually have a legend attached to them. Whether these legends are true, who knows, but we do know that Stalin approved most of the structures’ final designs before they were built. The USSR changed many skylines throughout the Republic with high-rise hotels that are still in use today.
Cooling off During the Soviet Reign
Much like food stops and book stands, you could find a carbonated water cart on the USSR streets. The stands didn’t just sell regular carbonated water, but fruit flavored cups of the beverage as well. Awfully convenient, aren’t they? And quite a nice way to cool off on a hot day.
Scientific Advances in the USSR
Science in the Soviet Union thrived until the Thaw Age fizzled by the early ’60s. Technology and implementing scientific procedure had reached an impressive scale, but once liberalism started to unfold and attempt a cultural reform, the field went downhill.
A Soviet Love of Culture
The Soviet population clung to pop-culture in the 1960s. Artistic expression became the only form of identity that the government couldn’t control past a certain extent and the more that artists practiced their craft the more original they performed. For the average tourist performance and exhibit prices were very high, and as the economy imploded later on it became more difficult to enjoy culture at its finest.
Lesiure Time in the ’60s
As we saw earlier, car racing and authentic Russian automobiles were a common interest in USSR society. Closed-circuit racing was extremely popular and more men came to enjoy the races over time. Take a look at the image above; these men are obviously enjoying a day at the races.
Life As a USSR Hippie
Hippie youth culture may have been scarce in the Soviet Union, but they were just as fierce as American hippies! Instead of fighting against the corrupt or the immoral, they were opposing the conformist oppression they were facing as a union. Long hair, crazy clothes (or lack thereof), and body paints were the best ways to spot a Soviet hippie.