1974: Streakers Set a Record at Mizzou, Inspire Trend
On March 5, 1974, 600 streakers at Mizzou ran past the historic columns while being cheered on by 1500 other students. And according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that wasn't the only streaking happening at Missouri colleges, or in the state.
The Post-Dispatch's remembrance of this event also details streaking at St. Louis University and Washington University on March 7, 1974. And an epidemic of streaking at St. Louis University after that.
A week later streaking broke out at the St. Louis Art Museum. A woman apparently ran naked through the 20th-century art exhibit, then joined two men for an appearance in the main hall before she "calmly returned to Northern European painting exhibit, got dressed and walked out the front door."
I'd like to know, what was in the water in the spring of 1974? Because I can confidently say, I've never had much desire to strip my clothes off and run naked in public. Not sober. Not drunk. Not as a college student. Not as a teenager. Not as a grown-ass adult.
Looking at the historical events in late February and early March 1974, there isn't a lot of notable news stories. Although there are a few notable events that perhaps drove college kids to strip naked and run:
On February 25, 1974, Veronica and Colin Scargill began a tandem bicycle ride around the world. On February 27, the U.S. Government conducted a nuclear test in the Nevada desert. And on March 2, a grand jury concluded President Nixon was involved in the Watergate cover-up. This is according to the On This Day website.
The Scargill's probably didn't inspire any streaking. Although, Watergate and the nuclear test, maybe? I can tell you I may have been streaking around my parent's garden apartment in Philadelphia in 1974. I was two at the time, so you can't discount the fact that I might have thought running around naked was fun.
So what motivated the kids of 1974 to streak? I'll let Erin Ryan, who wrote the article "The Surprising History of Streaking (Yes, the Naked Kind)" on the Runners World website provide the answer:
Observers can’t pinpoint exactly why young adults suddenly decided to take their clothes off and run around in nude groups, but it could have been due to several factors: changing attitudes toward sexuality and nudity, generalized distrust of authority and institutions, and the fact that streaking tended to garner a lot of media attention, which begat more streaking. People love attention!
As our world continues to emerge from its Covid-19 cocoon of the past two years. Our Country continues to deal with a divided nation. And Russia seems to be trying to exert its influence in more of the world. Maybe, just maybe, we could use more streaking. It might be an interesting distraction.