The dimly lit, around-100-square feet space was filled to capacity, containing around 20 people sitting on oversized couches, chairs and intimate tables. Patrons listened to soothing, folksy music over the loud speakers, speaking to each other in hushed tones and ordering tea, kava and vegetarian meals.
“Where else can you take your shoes off and drink at the same time?” Durham resident Audrey Lambert said.
Everyone in Oasis at Carr Mill Mall was waiting for one man — or, rather, a one-man show.
When Oasis owner Robert Roskind took the stage in his shop, the room quieted.
“Whoever can guess this song first gets a free mint,” he said, smiling. The twanging of “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by 5th Dimension played over the shop’s speakers, although it wasn’t long before a woman near the stage guessed it correctly.
“I’m a hippie,” she said with a shrug.
Roskind said that the song set the tone for an entire generation.
It was that generation — the generation of peace, love and happiness — that was represented in Roskind’s one-man play Saturday night in "Memoirs of an Ex-Hippie: Seven Years in the Counterculture,” based on his memoir of the same name.
His performance started almost 15 years ago at the ArtsCenter, where he performed his play for the first time for 150 people with pictures slides from his life. Since then, he’s performed variations every two to three months in his coffee shop, using verbal and musical storytelling to narrate his experience in counterculture.
His performance started at the beginning — his childhood. Growing up in a Jewish community in Atlanta, Roskind said that he was a happy child, learning about living a life built on service from the women in his life. He was friends with Otis Redding while a student at the private military high school, Marist School. It was there that Redding would perform for free at the senior dinner dance.
When he moved to Chapel Hill to attend UNC, he was a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. Roskind’s goals were to become a millionaire by 30, to marry a stunning Jewish woman without conflicts and to have great sex for the rest of his life.
“On one night in June, I became a hippie,” he said in his performance.
It wasn’t until he drank 50 to 100 hits of pure LSD accidentally — a trip that lasted for three days — and woke up to find that Bobby Kennedy had been shot that he became a hippie. The year was 1968.
Since then, he’s been living a life built on love, letting “Spirit” guide him as a vessel for love.
“I want to get the message out,” he said. “And the message is that everything that generation created, we need to go to to create the planet.”
And for former hippies like Roskind, Lambert said that Oasis is just that.
“It may be the last refuge of hippies in the world,” she said.
Raleigh resident Dean Block added to Lambert's statement.
"(Hippies) over the age of 30, anyway."
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