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"Y.M.C.A."
File:YMCA single cover.jpg
Single by Village People
from the album Cruisin'
Released 1978 (1978)
Format 7", 12"
Recorded Sigma Sound Studios, New York City
1978
Genre Disco, Rhythm & Blues
Length 4:48
Label Casablanca Records
Writer(s) Henri Belolo, Jacques Morali, Victor Willis
Producer Jacques Morali
Village People singles chronology

"Macho Man"
(1978)
"Y.M.C.A."
(1978)
"Go West"
(1979)

"Y.M.C.A." is a 1978 song by Village People which became a hit in January 1979. The song reached #2 on the U.S. charts in early 1979 and reached No.1 in the UK around the same time, becoming the group's biggest hit ever. Taking the song at face value, its lyrics extol the virtues of the Young Men's Christian Association. In the gay culture from which the group sprang, the song was implicitly understood as celebrating the YMCA's reputation as a popular cruising and hookup spot, particularly for the younger gay men to whom it was addressed.[1] However, Victor Willis, Village People lead singer of the song, as well as writer of the lyrics, has clarified the record and insist that he did not write YMCA as a gay anthem (Willis was one of the few members of the group that was straight). Rather, Willis said he wrote YMCA as a reflection of young urban black youth's fun at the YMCA such as basketball and swimming, etc. That said, Willis has also acknowledged his knack for double entendre writings. Interestingly, Willis also revealed that he wrote the song in Vancouver British Columbia.[2]

In any event, the song continues to remain popular and is played at almost every sports event in the USA. It is frequently played during breaks in the action at sporting events with crowds using the dance as an opportunity to stretch.[3] Moreover, the song also remains particularly popular due to its status as a disco classic and gay anthem, even among listeners who are otherwise uninvolved in disco or gay culture. It is also known to be a favorite in school dances. A popular dance in which the arms are used to spell out the four letters of the song's title may have much to do with this. "Y.M.C.A." is number 7 on VH1's list of The 100 Greatest Dance Songs of the 20th Century.

The song as well as the YMCA dance is so important to Victor Willis that he has become increasingly protective of it. In fact, on New Year's Eve 2008, when the Village People performed the song at El Paso's 75th Sun Bowl's Brut Bowl half-time show to break the world record of the most people doing the Y.M.C.A. at once, Victor Willis sued the Sun Bowl Association as well as the replacement-group under license to call themselves Village People.[4] El Pasoans broke the record with more than 45,000 people doing the dance, beating the former record of 13,000 people.

Composition[]

  • Key signature: F major (B flat)
  • Tempo: 95 beats per minute (bpm)
  • Featured instruments: Woodwind and brass, percussion and strings

Lyrics[]

Young man
There's no need to feel down
I said young man
Pick yourself off the ground

I said young man
'Cause you're in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy

Young man
There's a place you can go
I said young man
When you're short on your dough

You can stay there
And I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time

It's fun to stay at the
Y M C A
It's fun to stay at the
Y M C AA

They have everything
For young man to enjoy
You can hang out with all the boys

It's fun to stay at the
Y M C A
It's fun to stay at the
Y M C AA

You can get yourself clean
You can have a good meal
You can do whatever you feel

Young man
Are you listening to me?
I said young man
What do you wanna be?

I said young man
You can make real your dreams
But you've got to know this one thing

No man
Does it all by himself
I said young man
Put your pride on the shelf

And just go there
To the Y M C A
I'm sure they can help you today

It's fun to stay at the
Y M C A
It's fun to stay at the
Y M C AA

They have everything
For young man to enjoy
You can hang out with all the boys

It's fun to stay at the
Y M C A
It's fun to stay at the
Y M C AA

You can yourself clean
You can have a good meal
You can do whatever you feel

Young man
I was once in your shoes
I said I was
Down and out with the blues

I felt no man
Cared if I was alive
I felt the whole world was so jive

That's when
Someone came up to me
And said young man
Take a walk up the street

It's a place there
Called the Y M C A
They can start you back on your way

It's fun to stay at the
Y M C A
It's fun to stay at the
Y M C AA

They have everything
For young man to enjoy
You can hang out with all the boys
It's fun to stay at the Y

Young man, young man
There's no need to feel down
Young man, young man
Pick yourself off the ground

It's fun to stay at the Y
No man, young man
Does it all by himself

Young man, young man
Put your pride on the shelf
Y M C A

Origin of hand movement and dance[]

"YMCA" is also the name of a group dance with cheerleader Y-M-C-A choreography invented to fit the song. One of the phases involves moving arms to form the letters Y-M-C-A as they are sung in the chorus:

Y - Arms outstretched and raised
M - Made by bending the elbows from the 'Y' pose so the fingertips meet over the chest[5]
C - Arms extended to the left
A - Hands held together above head

Dick Clark takes credit for his show American Bandstand being where the YMCA dance was originated. During the January 6, 1979 episode which featured the Village People as the guests throughout the hour, the dance is seen being done by audience members during the performance of YMCA and lead singer Victor Willis immediately picked-up on it and is seen practicing the dance himself at the beginning of the standard interview sequence, therein, becoming the first member of the Village People to do the YMCA. Other group members observed but seemed unimpressed and the look on many of their faces suggetsed they were thinking... why is Victor participating in this charade? Dick Clark then ask Willis,..."think you can fit this routine into your show?" Victor Willis responds..."I think we're gonna have to." And the rest is history. But had Victor Willis, as the group's leader, not taken an interest in the dance, we may not be doing the YMCA today.

At Yankee Stadium, after the sixth inning, the grounds crew traditionally takes a break from grooming the infield to lead the crowd in the dance. Similarly at Sapporo Dome, during Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters baseball games, YMCA is enthusiastically enjoyed by the crowd and ground staff during the fifth inning stretch.

YMCA song appeared as Space shuttle Wakeup call on mission STS-106, on day 11. source:http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/audio/shuttle/sts-106/html/ndexpage.html

Video[]

Y.M.C.A_-_100%_FC_-_Band_Hero

Y.M.C.A - 100% FC - Band Hero

References[]