If you’ve been to a prom, wedding reception, graduation, sporting event, or other parties where lots of people are gathered, you’ve almost certainly had the opportunity to perform the dance, made popular by the Village People’s 1978 disco classic. With its four basic and simple moves — forming the letters Y, M, C, and A over your head as the group sings the letters — the dance is one of the easiest group dances to perform. Throw in a few enthusiastic finger points and hip thrusts and you’ve elevated your dance game even further.
And Fox hopes to channel that simplicity and wide-ranging appeal into the record books, getting tens of thousands of people to simultaneously perform the dance while the actual Village People (more or less) perform it live.
We say “more or less” because the Village People aren’t the same core group of guys that they were in 1978 when the song was released. Over the four decades since the song reached peak popularity, disco has come and gone, and some of the original men in the group have moved on to other phases of their careers and lives.
The performers on the 1978 hit were Victor Willis (Cop), Felipe Rose (Indian), Alex Briley (Soldier/Sailor), Glenn Hughes (Leather man), David Hodo (Construction worker), and Randy Jones (Cowboy).
These days, according to the band’s website, the lineup consists of Willis, still in the role of the Cop, as well as Angel Morales in the role of the Indian, Chad Freeman (Cowboy), James Lee (Soldier/Sailor), James Kwong (Construction Worker), and Jeffrey James “J.J.” Lippold (Leather Man).
These days, the song’s original gay subtext is perhaps lost on most listeners. As Gawker reported in 2016, taken at face value, the song is a straightforward admonition for young men who are new to the city to consider renting rooms at the Y, something the organization had been providing for a century prior. However, the song is actually filled to the brim with references to the underground gay culture of the day, including celebrating the Y.M.C.A. as a hookup and cruising spot for young gay men.
The Y was not amused; the organization sued the band for copyright infringement and later settled out of court.
Joining the Village People on the Fox New Year’s Eve broadcast will be the Chainsmokers, the Lumineers, the Backstreet Boys, and Florida Georgia Line.