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87. Hotspots on the Sun during 1957-1975

MAR. 21, 2024


It’s hot stuff this week as Ryan takes Pete to discover Hotspots on the Sun during 1957 to 1975.  We learn how hot the sun is (hint - very), the hot stuff that breathed new life into a national newspaper, and reminisce about one teenager’s summer of love on a sun-drenched island.

Officially the name of our home star is ‘The Sun’, but it’s also referred to by its Latin name ‘Sol’ - which is, of course, where we get the name ‘the Solar system’.

Finding The Sun is pretty straightforward, you just head outside on a clear day, look up, and it’ll be the most prominent thing you’ll see in the sky – just don’t look at it directly!

More specifically, The Sun, or Sol, lies at the centre of the solar system, which is approximately 93 million miles (150 million kilometres) from Earth. In terms of size The Sun has a surface area of about six trillion ninety billion square kilometres (2.35 trillion square miles) - so you’d need about 11 million Frances to completely tile the entire area.

There is no population on the Sun, presumably all the native peoples burned up which means there is no official religion on the Sun either, although there have been many religions and cultures on Earth which have worshipped the Sun as a deity, including, but not limited to, the Ancient Egyptians, Hindus, the Aztec, and the Inca.

There is no official anthem for the Sun either, but although sound waves cannot travel through the vacuum of space, we do know that The Sun is incredibly noisy.

Gas movements and magnetic activity on the Sun's surface each create vibrations which can be converted into sound waves and those sound waves into "solar music".

So, while it's unlikely to ever top the charts, this is my nomination for the anthem of the Sun, I call it ‘Sunbeam’, and it sounds a little something like… this…

The Parker Solar Probe measures pressure waves in the particles that make up solar wind and by measuring the frequencies and amplitudes of these pressure waves it can be turned into soundwaves. The whooshing and whistling noises are the pressure waves radiating out of the Sun.
These are called whistler mode waves and are very low-frequency pressure waves that are caused by energetic electrons bursting out of the Sun’s corona, the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere.

There’s also very high-frequency pressure waves that make an almost ethereal, high-pitched wailing.

There’s peculiar chirping sounds come from dispersive waves, which quickly shift from one frequency to another as they move through the solar wind. Nobody knows what causes them.

Lastly, theres also the sound of microscopic dust from the sun colliding with a space probe. It sounds like old tv static, but is actually hundreds of microscopic impacts at speeds of up to half a million kilometres an hour, (a quarter of a million miles an hour). Each impact is the dust bursting apart and chipping away a tiny bit of the spacecraft.


The Sun is actually white. When viewed from space, the Sun appears pure white and it is the scattering of sunlight in the Earth's atmosphere makes it appear yellow, orange, or red when viewed from the ground.

The Sun is fast. Really fast.

Along with the solar system, The Sun moves through the Milky Way at a speed of about 828,000 km/h (515,000 mph). Yet it still takes about 230 million years for the Sun to complete one orbit around the centre of the Milky Way.

The Sun spins faster in the middle than the top. The Sun doesn't just rotate on its axis; it performs something called a ‘differential rotation’ - meaning that the equator spins faster than its poles. So if you were stood on the equator, one complete turn of the sun would take about 25 days, while if you stood at the top or bottom, it would take 35 days.

The sun even has a smell, or at least it would if smell could carry through space. Apparently, Scientists think that the heavy metals in the Sun’s super-hot atmosphere would smell like hot steel.

One day, it will rain on the sun. The atmospheres of cooler, dying stars eject their outer layers, at which point, carbon atoms clump together forming tiny diamonds, which then rain back down onto the surface. So, when the Sun starts to die, it’ll do exactly the same.


In the Milky Way, about 4.5 billion years ago, a cold, dense giant cloud of molecular dust and gas is hit by the shockwave of an exploding star.

The cloud spins and flattens into a disk, with gas and dust pulled into the centre where pressures cause them to get increasingly hot and dense. This mass gets bigger as gas and dust continues to fall into the centre, and temperatures rise to the point that the core now reaches a temperature of around 15 million degrees Celsius.

Every second, 600 million tons of hydrogen converts into helium, and vast amounts of energy are released – so much energy in fact, that the force of gravity is counteracted, and the mass in the centre of the disc stabilises and Early Sun is born.

Fun fact: It’s believed that our Sun formed in a cluster with many other stars, all born from the same molecular cloud. Over billions of years, these sibling stars drifted apart, and researchers today are now hunting to see if they can find them, looking for stars with a similar chemical composition as our own.

While Early Sun is formed, all the remaining gas and dust which hadn’t been sucked into the Sun’s core, starts to form a system of planets and asteroids, which then get pulled around the Early Sun by its immense gravity.

In most cases, these planets are either cooked or frozen depending on how close or far away they are from Early Sun, but one of these planets - the third rock from the Sun - finds itself in the fortunate position of being locked into a region where the heat from the sun is sufficient to allow water to not freeze or evaporate.

Thanks to this liquid water, around 4 billion years ago, life forms begin to appear - each of them using the light from the Sun as their source of energy.

Evolution does its thing, slime turns to fish, fish turn into lizards, lizards turn to mammals, and suddenly.. Early Man appears!

Looking to the sky, he notices the yellow circle which makes night turn into day, helping his crops grow, and praises it by holding festivals in its honour. Some Early Men even build monuments to align with the Sun's movements.

Over time, Civilised Man appears, and he starts to build complex and more elaborate places of Sun worship. In ancient Egypt for example, Pyramids are built in honour of their Sun god, Ra. In Mesopatamia, temples were constructed in honour of their Sun god, Shamash. In South America, the Inca build temples in honour of their Sun god, Inti.

And we see the earliest forms of astronomy too, with Babylonians writing down the Sun’s movements on clay tablets, the Chinese tracking Solar activity, and early Greek philosophers starting to recognise the Sun was something other than a God.
Truly scientific studies of the Sun start in earnest in the first millennium, with sunspots, solar eclipses and the solar corona being observed.

This was followed by more detailed observations in the second millennium, thanks to the invention of the telescope, which kick-started the modern art of solar astronomy.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, scientists start to develop a deeper understanding of the Sun's impact on Earth, including climate change and interactions with the Earth's magnetic field.

The Sun was photographed for the first time on the 2nd April, 1845, by French physicists, and in 1919, Einstein sees a solar eclipse and is inspired to write his theory of general relativity which described the bending of light by gravity.

Which brings us to the time period for today - 1957 to 1975 – the ‘Space Age’. 18 years of the most exciting and dynamic advancements in the history of human scientific endeavour.

Driven largely by the Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, it starts with the launch of the world's first artificial satellite, sees the first human travel into space, the first human space-walk, the first humans to land on the moon, the first human to walk on the moon, and the construction of a space station.

It is a time when our understanding of space completely shifted – when culture and technology changed, when the world's imagination considered our place in the cosmos. The Space Age allowed us to study the Sun up close too, with instruments on satellites and space stations giving us huge leaps forward in knowledge, and a better understanding of how we can best capture the Sun’s energy for a greener future.

Currently estimated to be about 4.6 billion years old, the Sun is considered middle-aged in its lifecycle, so plenty of generations to come will still be able to look to the sky and marvel at the great golden orb above.


What do we mean by the term ‘hot spot’?

Taken literally, it refers to a small area with a temperature higher than everything else around it, but it’s become commonly used to refer to a place of unusual interest or significant activity.

Sometimes that can mean referring to an area known for danger, as in, ‘Croydon is a hotspot for knife crime’, but can also be used to single out popular places too, such as, ‘Croydon is a hotspot for buying cheap property’.

The earliest use of the term appears around 1837 in the New Sporting Magazine, where it was used to refer to a dangerous situation, but a year later was used in a medical document to refer to a specific skin irritation.

In 1931 it was used as the nickname for trendy nightclubs in New York, and in 1938 it was used by firefighters looking to pinpoint specific areas within a fire that were particularly dangerous.

In 1941 it became linked with ‘places of international conflict’, something the media still does today when referring to hotspot warzones.

And in today’s digital age, it’s got a new understanding as a public place where you can connect wirelessly to the internet.

And I mention all this, because in today’s episode, we’ll be using the term ‘hotspot’ both literally and figuratively as we look to link them to the Sun during the Space Age.


Are there hotspots on the sun? Are there areas of the Sun which are hotter than the rest?

Simply put, yes.. but before we get into that.. it’s important to understand more about the make-up of the Sun – so, let’s start with the basics.

Unlike planet Earth, the Sun is not a solid. Hypothetically speaking if you could touch the surface with your hand without it instantly disintegrating, it’d feel viscous – like really hot honey or molten metal.

And that’s because the Sun is made of plasma, which is one of four fundamental states of matter – which are solids, liquids, gases and plasma.

Sometimes referred to as ‘ionized gas’, plasma is made of particles which are in rapid motion, constantly colliding with each other – which creates an effect that makes plasma highly responsive to electromagnetic fields and super conductive for electricity. Which makes it perfect for us in modern technology, you’ll have seen plasma in use in neon lights, plasma TVs, and those novelty globes where you put your hand on the glass surface and a stream of colourful electricity shoots out from the centre and tracks the movement of your hand – which is pretty awesome stuff.

And the Sun is made entirely out of plasma.. so much plasma in fact, that if you were to take all the plasma in the Sun, and gather it together in one lump, you would have an object that is the exact same size as the Sun.

There’s plasma in the core of the Sun, which reaches super-hot temperatures of 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million degrees Fahrenheit), a heat so hot that we see it on Earth as daylight.
There’s plasma in the Radiative Zone, which is a layer that surrounds the core and is so dense that it takes thousands of years for photons from the core to escape through it.

There’s less-dense plasma in the Convective Zone, which is the layer above the Radiative Zone.

There’s plasma on the surface of the Sun, which boffins call ‘the Photosphere’, and is where temperatures are much cooler at just 5,500 degrees Celsius (10,000 degrees Fahrenheit).

And there’s super-hot plasma in the Chromosphere and the Corona as well, the two layers in the Sun's outer atmosphere.

The point being that, like an onion, the Sun is made up of a number layers – and unlike an onion, it’s made up of hot plasma.

From a temperature point of view, if we’re looking for a literal hotspot on the Sun – we would find it in the core.

But, that’s not to say that there aren’t other hotspots on the Sun too.

Most people, including me, have probably heard of ‘sunspots’, and probably thought that they would make interesting podcast content about hotspots - but unfortunately, these dark circles on the surface of the sun are in reality ‘coldspots’ –areas which have intense magnetic activity, that transfers heat away, and lowers the temperature for that specific part of the surface.

So what are some of the other hotspots?

There are parts of the Sun which has especially strong magnetic fields, and sometimes, these erupt into something called a solar flare – which is a blast of red-hot 10-million-degree Celsius electromagnetic radiation up into the Sun’s atmosphere.

So, when Solar Flares occur, you could count them as a hotspot.

Coronal loops are hotspots too, with arc-shaped magnetic fields extending from active regions of the surface out into the Sun's corona. The plasma within these loops is often superheated to the extreme, making them much hotter than the surface of the Sun.

And there’s things called Plages too, bright and superhot regions in the chromosphere above the surface of the sun, which are areas of increased magnetic activity that can only be observed in H-alpha and ultraviolet light.

So, those are some hotspots on the Sun, and we know they happened during 1957-1975, thanks to advances in Solar observatory during that time period.

In 1958, for example, Kitt Peak National Observatory opened in Arizona in the USA, with several telescopes designed for solar observation – most notably, the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope which was, at the time, the world's largest solar telescope.

During our time period, they played a key role in our understanding of solar flares, and provided detailed spectroscopic studies on the composition, temperature, and dynamics of the solar atmosphere.

In the years between 1962 and 1975, NASA launched a series of satellites known as the Orbiting Solar Observatory, which provided crucial information on solar physics, allowing unobstructed observations of the Sun in ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths.

And in 1973, NASA also launched Skylab, which was primarily known as the first American space station, but included a number of instruments for studying the Sun, including the Apollo Telescope Mount, which allowed scientists to study the Sun in detail, and understand more about the distribution of heat in Solar Flares, and the heating mechanisms of the solar corona.

Scientists like Eugene Parker, an American theoretical astrophysicist, who helped provide an understanding of how the Sun’s incredibly hot Corona created Solar Winds which interacted with the entire solar system, including here on Earth where they create they hit the atmosphere and create insta-worthy photos in the form of the aurora borealis, or ‘the northern lights’.

And Hannes Alfvén, a Swedish physicist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1970 for developing the theory of magneto-hydro-dynamics, which is, apparently, crucial in the understanding of solar and cosmic plasma dynamics – which I’m told explains how magnetic fields and plasma interact with each other to create the hotspots we see as solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

And it just so happens that both Alfvén and Parker were working during a particular hotspot in solar activity, because in April 1954, the Sun kicked into something known as a Solar Cycle.

First observed in 1755, a Solar Cycle is a decade long period where the Sun's magnetic activity increases and decreases, causing intense variation in the number of sunspots, flares, and other solar stuff. And when 1954 rolled around a new cycle started.

Given the number Cycle 19, this started a new decade of intense activity for observers to study. And boy were they lucky, because Solar Cycle 19 was ready to put on a show.

During this cycle, especially around 1957-1958, the number of sunspots observed on the Sun reached a peak that has ever been matched in recorded history, with the resulting solar activity resulting in significant geomagnetic storms on Earth.

The storms caused disruptions in radio communications, affected electrical power grids, and increased the visibility of the aurora borealis to a point where it could be seen during the day, and in places much further south and north than around the poles.
At the peak of the Solar Cycle, in 1957, an international scientific project called ‘the International Geophysical Year’, which brought together researchers from around the world to conduct solar-terrestrial physics research.

The project ended in 1958, but Solar Cycle 19 continued until October 1964, when the Sun calmed down a bit and took time out.

We’re actually in a Solar Cycle right now, ‘Solar Cycle 25’, which began in December 2019, is approaching the peak, and is expected to end just before 2030.

So, within the next year or so, we might expect to see some impacts from Cycle 25 here on Earth, with authorities already working on contingency plans in case Solar Winds overload our network of satellites, power grids, and cell phone networks.

So, there you go.. plenty of hotspots on the Sun during 1957-1975!


During the 1960s, the UK was starting to emerge from all that miserable post-war austerity and starting to swing their way into a dawn of cultural renaissance.

A new generation of kids were growing up in a world very different to their parents’ dark past.

They weren’t interested in war and death, they wanted rock and roll, and miniskirts, and free love, baby. And it was in this time of transformation, that old and stuffy media institutions found themselves having to adapt or risk being left behind.

One newspaper in particular was really feeling that pressure. First published back in 1912, the Daily Herald, had once been the mouthpiece for trade unionists and the Labour movement, but now, in the 1960s, it found itself out of step with the British public and, thanks to competition from more modern rival papers like the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express, readership numbers were at an all-time low.

In an attempt to fix things, the Herald's owner made the decision to rebrand, and on the 15th September, 1964, the Daily Herald became, ‘The Sun’ .

The new paper promised to be a "beacon of modernity" with a captivating blend of hard news, sports and entertainment.

But despite some initial excitement, by the end of 1969, The Sun was actually selling fewer papers than the Daily Herald.

Facing disaster, the publishers decided to put The Sun up for sale.

Enter the swashbuckling form of an unlikely saviour - brash Australian media mogul, Rupert Murdoch!
Already an established publisher of his own, Murdoch was already well known for his impact on the media industry, having established several successful Australian newspapers like The Daily Mirror and The Australian.

Ever the entrepreneur, Murdoch wanted to do the same in Britain, so he stepped in and bought The Sun newspaper for £800,000 (£10m today).

Now under his control, Murdoch immediately rebranded the paper as a mass-market tabloid focused on sensationalised news - political scandals, celebrity gossip, and fluff pieces – all aimed at hooking as many readers in as possible.

At the same time, he deliberately targeted his main rival, The Daily Mirror, stealing their more successful formats and making them his own – most notably, publishing photos of female models wearing lingerie and bikinis.

In fact, the nearly naked girls were so successful, that Murdoch’s editor, Larry Lamb, dedicated a whole page of the paper to publishing photos of a sexy Swedish glamour model Ulla Lindstrom.

She was chosen by Lamb because she’s very attractive, but also because he knew that she was being featured in that month's edition of the popular soft-porn magazine, Penthouse, so he gambled that her popularity there would bring over a readership that were looking for more of her.

And he was right, because the images of her in The Sun wearing a suggestively unbuttoned shirt resulted in a massive hike in sales.

Lamb received a few complaints, but pressed on with the feature, continuing to feature scantily-clad glamour models on Page 3 each day for the entire next year, branding the girls ‘Page 3 Models’ a name which stuck thereafter.

Side note: Lamb’s decision to place elicit photos on the third page was deliberate – he wanted to maintain a traditionally respectable front page, but hook readers with sexy images immediately after they turn the front page.

It was still a controversial decision, and raised some eyebrows, but The Sun avoided any real criticism.

Lamb was mindful of the paper being labelled as pornography though, and he ordered his team to only photograph “wholesome, non-vulgar, nice girls" on Page 3. He even formed a panel of female reporters to review and approve each image to ensure that they passed ‘the taste standards of an average British woman’.

Which was all fine and dandy, until the 17th November, 1970, when Lamb took advantage of Rupert Murdoch being out of the country, to push things further.
In what was supposed to be a ‘cheeky nod’ in celebration of the paper’s first birthday, he decided to publish a completely nude photo of Singapore-born model, Stephanie Rahn, under a headline which described her as wearing “her birthday suit" .

The image, photographed by The Sun's Page 3 photographer, Beverley Goodway, showed Ms Rahn sitting cross-legged in a field, smiling at the camera with one of her breasts fully exposed – and the public reaction to it was huge.

Prior to 1970, The Sun's circulation was around 1.2 million copies sold a day, but thanks to the topless photo of Stephanie Rahn on Page 3, sales of the newspaper skyrocketed to 2.5 million copies a day - doubling its circulation in one year!

It was a gamble that paid off, but it also sparked a significant point in the history of British journalism, because to many of the public, The Sun had been selling itself as a mainstream, family-friendly newspaper – which was not the place for topless women.

Debates sprang up with arguments for and against.

For some, it was seen as nothing more than a tantalizing, guilty-pleasure that didn’t hurt anyone, but for others, especially those on the conservative side of morality, it was bad taste, exploitative, degrading, and contributing to the objectification of women.

The Women's Liberation movement argued that it “portrays women as two-dimensional sexual objects, contributing to a corrosive culture in which the female body is commodified, stripped of deeper humanity and leered at for mass entertainment and profit”

Journalists on rival papers said that The Sun was ‘lowering long-established standards and embracing the most base elements of human appetite’, calling Page 3 ‘blind sensationalism’ and ‘editorially indefensible’.

Organisations like the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, called Page 3 "a disgusting, phony excuse for exploiting the female body to sell newspapers" and the leader of The National Organisation of Women called it "an outrage".

Mary Whitehouse, the self-appointed crusader for all things moral, said that Page 3 was “demeaning to women" and should “offend and appal wives and mothers”.

And in the middle of all this is Rupert Murdoch and Larry Lamb, who happily stuck to their guns, unmoved by the complaints, and pointing to the sales figures as proof that there was a silent majority in the public who wanted Page 3 to stick around.

In fact, rather than backing down against the pressure, they dug in, continuing to print images of topless women on Page 3 and instead painting themselves as the persecuted champions of the people - a liberating force that challenged the repression of political correctness.
Murdoch himself said that there was nothing wrong with it, quote, "I don't think it's immoral or indecent or anything. Page 3 isn't about featuring topless models; it is about challenging norms and pushing the boundaries of what is socially acceptable."

In fact, he even went so far as rolling the Page 3 feature out across all of his worldwide newspapers – well, except for Australia – where, supposedly out of respect to his mother who lived there, he kept the paper free of nudity.

As unrepentant as his boss, Larry Lamb said, "The paper reflects society and I think the topless shots reflect society's attitudes. Everyone's brain is a little bit bevvied with sex. We're just being honest, that's all."

And to support their argument for free speech, Murdoch and Lamb used the power of their paper to attack the critics directly, often calling them prudes and spoilsports.

Notably, in 1986, a Labour Party politician, Clare Short, tried to introduce legislation to ban topless models in newspapers, and The Sun responded by launching a humiliating campaign which attacked the politician daily for months, calling her ugly and a killjoy.

They even gave out free bumper stickers with less-than-flattering images of her face on them, and even published a poll asking readers if they would rather see Clare’s face or the back of a bus.

And so, the paper continued to publish images of topless girls on Page 3 for decades, becoming a part of the nation’s culture and turning glamour models into mainstream celebrities overnight.

Models like Kathy Lloyd, Gail McKenna, Katie Price and even Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell, all started their careers by posing for Page 3 - some of whom were shockingly young.

In the 1980s, for example, a 15 year old girl called Samantha Fox wrote to the paper asking to be a Page 3 model, and just after her 16th birthday her wish came true.

Fox’s photos were hugely popular with readers, and she went on to become arguably the most famous ever Page 3 model, becoming the decades third-most photographed British celebrity after Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana.

Topless teenage models stopped in 2003 when the UK's Sexual Offences Act raised the minimum age limit to 18 years old, but Page 3 continued publishing images until The Sun finally called an end to the feature in 2015, partly because of changes in attitudes towards the objectification of women, but largely due to the amount of free digital pornography that was becoming increasingly available online.

But whatever your thoughts on The Sun’s Page 3, it’s impossible to acknowledge how successful it was, cementing The Sun's place as Britain's most widely read and influential newspaper for generations of readers.
And so, there you go, in a literal sense, Page 3 was a hotspot in The Sun during our time-period, and it was a hotspot of controversy too!


Greece has many islands, around 6000 in fact, of which, 200 are inhabited - and one of these inhabited islands is Mykonos.

Located in a small group of islands known as the Cyclades, it’s in the Aegean sea off the south-east coast of mainland Greece – a short trip from Athens.

Mykonos is a small island, home to roughly ten thousand people who mostly live in a small town on the west coast.

Early man was here around the 11th century BCE – and since then, it’s been home to Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans – all of whom lived an isolated existence in modest fishing and farming villages around the landscape.

And that was how it was for thousands of years, a traditional humble island tied to the rhythms of the sea - but then the 20th century came along!

In the 1920s, a bunch of archaeologists arrived looking for a roof over their heads while they spent their days digging out treasures on the nearby island of Delos.

Realising that there was an easy income to be made in giving up a spare bed for the night to strangers, in 1925, a small group of Mykonians organised for a group of Greek mainlanders to hop on over to the island for a short vacation.

Loving the place, the holidaymakers returned home and started to spread the word about lovely Mykonos island, and by the 1930s, the number of visitors to Mykonos had doubled - with travellers lured from across Europe by talk of sandy beaches and crystal-blue seas.

But.. by ‘doubled’, I really just mean about 20 people a year.

Anyway, for the next few decades, life carries on in Mykonos, fishermen catch octopus, farmers herd goats, and families gather in village squares, smash plates and dance to the ancient sound of Zorba.

That is, until the 1960s, when a post-War boom of technology, prosperity, and commercial air travel means that more and more people are starting to chill out on holidays in exotic destinations.

And jumping on this lucrative trend were ‘Mad Men’ style advertisers who started promoting the benefits of travel, focusing on The Sun as a symbol of health, with adverts in glossy magazines showing images of beautiful and happy people lying on white sand beaches under the life-giving rays of the Sun, a natural tonic for improving health and wellbeing - a claim backed by medical professionals who all agreed on the power of sunlight, a free source of Vitamin D, that can help improve vitality and beauty.

And of course, getting a suntan was the perfect way to show people that you live a life of lounging on beaches, and are not one of those boring poor pale-skinned people who stay at home doing chores.

Movies and commercials featured images of sun-kissed celebrities wearing swimwear on the beach and by the pool, and suntans became the ideal of beauty.

Sales of swimwear skyrocketed, especially the bikini.

And so, it is no surprise to find that summer vacations to the beach became hugely popular, with coastal towns booming with tourists.

And in this environment lies Mykonos, a quiet island with brilliant blue seas, idyllic beaches, 300 days of sunshine a year, and temperatures that regularly reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) – the perfect environment for sun-worship.

At first, a gradual trickle of visitors arrived, weirdo nomads and free-spirited wanderers, but as the decade progressed, more and more people started arriving, to the point where so many tourists needed accommodation that locals ran out of room for them in their homes and started to convert their fishing huts into hostels too.

Entrepreneurs opened up bars, restaurants and grocery stores, and eventually the once sleepy villages transformed into vibrant party towns .

This attracted the likes of movie stars and celebrities like, Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and in the resulting publicity – ‘Mykonos’ became the hotspot destination for tourism.

The island's first gay bar, Pierros, was opened in the early 1970s by handsome Italian celebrity Pierro Aversa and a local fisherman called Andreas Koutsoukos, started a trend that saw Mykonos become known as a safe and welcome hub for the gay and LGBTQ+ community, with gay-friendly bars, drag shows and nudist beaches opening all across the island.

In 70s, major hotel companies started investing heavily, opening luxury properties like the Belvedere Beach Hotel and Cavo Tagoo – both huge sprawling resorts which could accommodate thousands of sun-seekers.

On top of that, during peak season, cruise ships arrived every day unloading thousands of visitors into the town.

In fact, where Mykonos once received less than 10,000 tourists a year in the 1960s, by the 1970s, the figure was well over half-a-million.
The island became unrecognisable from its once humble origins; There was electricity, running water, and telephones; networks of buses and taxis were added, an airport built, and a port capable of receiving ferries.

It’s almost hard to imagine what it might have been like to have been there at that time and experience Mykonos during such a period of great transformation

Well, to help us out with that, I spoke with someone who was there!
o Hello, my name is Nicos Nicolaidis
That’s the voice of Nicos Nicolaidis, a father and grandfather living in Athens, who kindly agreed to tell me about his time living on Mykonos during the 1970s – you’ll notice that Nicos doesn’t speak any English, so I’ll do my best to translate for him..
• In 1974, when I was 18 years old, I went to Mykonos island during the summer season to work as a painter-decorator in the new hotels. I was very young and when the ship approached the port, I was curious and excited to see what this island was all about. The first thing that I remember seeing was tiny white houses on an island without trees. White and blue. I was very fascinated because the ship couldn’t approach the port and little boats came to collect the tourists to take them to the island, including me. I remember when I reached the port, I was looking to find my boss, and when I found him he took us to our accommodation.
• From that moment, my adventure had started to explore the island as a young man. The island was full of tourists, walking in the small paths to explore and the island’s hidden gems. In each and every path you can find a Greek restaurant, but I was impressed with so many shops selling jewellery, and wondered why so many existed here. Later I understood that cruise ships with older retired American tourists would come and buy the jewellery.
• Our work schedule was a bit of a mess, but we’d work during the weekdays, and after work we used to go the beach and get ready for the bars. I will never forget the first time I went to Super-Paradise Beach, that was a nudist beach. We used to approach the beach on small boats. I met many other boys like myself who were working on the island and together we went to the beach. I will never forget the naked bodies that I saw, sunbathing in Super-Paradise beach. I couldn’t stop laughing with my friends. I was telling my friends to stop laughing or they will kick us out! Then we got used to this nudist image and we became one of them, but still it was very strange for us! The water was so beautiful, the blue sky reflecting in the crystal clear sea, and the atmosphere was so beautiful. This island was amazing. It was the best in Greece when it comes to the beach and scenery.
• Then at night, after the beach, we used to start our entertainment in two of the best bars on the island - the very famous Pierros, and Nine Muses, owned by a famous Greek fashion designer called Galatis. He was one of the most important people on the island and made Mykonos what it is today. Both owners were fashion designers and would bring celebrities with them to the island. In the bars there was chaos, especially in Pierros where he was known internationally as a fashion designer.
• There was about 65% community of gay people on the island. And the island transformed at night, with the tourists showing a different side. So there were many bars on the island, of course, but they were the most famous. There was one other bar that everyone passed through before going to Pierros. I used to go there and dance the traditional Greek Zorba! And the tourists used to love seeing me doing that dance, and from that place I can say I became very popular with the tourist girls!
• That time there was also a bar, owned by a famous greek singer, that only had lesbian women. Again, 65% of the island was gay community, but it was mixed, we were all together having fun. I remember there was one bar with a German dancer dressed as a woman who would give a striptease, and the show he would give, I don’t remember his name, but at that time, in 1974, he was ahead of time, because drag shows like his can be found today all around the world.
• I remember that it was full of mixed nationalities: Norway, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Italy, Germany, but the majority were from Scandinavia. Their money had the bigger value than our money. The French franc and the German Deutschmark meant they could have a lot of fun at a very low price, because we needed to work to afford this kind of entertainment! The local people were very conservative, but they loved the money from the tourists. Even though I didn’t have interest in business on the island and only there to have fun with the girls, I was still able to see how much money was being passed around.
• Today Mykonos is not like it used to be. That time it was more pure. No matter if there were gay or straights on the island, people were different. Nothing to do with how Mykonos is today. Nowadays, you will see many business people owning villas and they pretend that they are something they are not, and they have changed the feeling of the island. In those days it was pure and true. It was a great period for the island that allowed even for middle class people to spend time on the island and have some fun. Now, only wealthy people can afford to visit. Everyone was seeing since then Mykonos was going to be big, but for me, at that time, it was already big. Celebrities then wanted to visit and leave the island as they found it, but now, the wealthy want to change it in their own image.
• I can only say that it was the best time of my life, the brightest time of my life. I went to the island to work for 2 or 3 months and I ended up staying for 10-11 months and the only reason that I left was because I received the government letter to join the army. Again, I will repeat, it was so beautiful, the best time of my life! I wish I could go back again and live those same moments. The people that I met, the friendships that I made, the beautiful island - everything was just perfect. I wish that everyone could have this kind of experience once in their lifetime. Many people from my neighbourhood, my city, they came to the island to work for a season, and nowadays, today, when we get together in coffee shops we are still talking about our experiences on Mykonos.

Anyway, there you go, that was Nic the Greek, providing proof-positive evidence that Mykonos was indeed ‘a Hotspot in the Sun during 1957-1975’

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