During the mid-to-late 1960s, impoverished urban districts throughout the United States witnessed an influx of white middle-class youth who attempted to remake society and themselves against a backdrop of inner-city grit and decay. This article focuses on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to explore the significance of slumming in the creation and reception of 1960s rock. Lower East Side rock musicians drew little overt influence from their neighborhood's longstanding ethnic communities, which included eastern Europeans, Puerto Ricans, and African Americans. Rather, these musicians were fascinated with the concept of the “slum” itself as a more abstract signifier of authenticity, adventure, and nonconformity. I propose that a “slum aesthetic” emphasizing dirt, obscenity, and willful amateurism, exemplified by local band the Fugs, was crucial to the Lower East Side rock scene. Examining this “slum aesthetic” helps paint a more nuanced picture of both the political significance of rock and the connections between popular music and urban life. As the Lower East Side's musicians sought both radical social change and a large audience, they represented their neighborhood in ways that combined thoughtful engagement with broad caricature, a contradiction that inspired both musical creativity and social tension.