There's a fantastic article about the origins of the Village People's song YMCA over at SPIN online. I found the original version of the video over at Daily Motion - what a hoot. Since I don't watch baseball I had no idea YMCA had become an arena anthem. You'll read about some of that interesting history in the article as well.
It's probably obvious to most of you already, but YMCA was a totally gay song from the moment it was conceived (see the article) - so much more the fascinating then that it's been co-opted by the devoutly heterosexual sport of baseball. Ain't life strange.
I came of age both sexually and socially in the seventies. I lived in America and in Italy in the seventies. It was the seventies that laid claim to my virginity and it was in the late seventies that I first realized that there were other guys like me out there in the world. In 1978 a college buddy took me dancing one night to Studio One in West Hollywood and it was there that I first walked onto a disco floor crowded with shirtless guys all dancing with each other. I had never seen anything like it in my life - I didn't know even there were other gay guys, let alone clubs where they all got together and danced. It was a revelation that put anything Joe Smith had to shame!
I was out there in an ocean of guys all dancing and drinking and having the time of their lives. And for the first time ever in my life I was drinking a beer. My buddy and I took our shirts off and danced in just our skin-tight Angel's Flight bellbottoms; beer bottles in our hands and smiles on our faces. I have to say, it was one of the happiest nights of my life. The sex that followed later that night wasn't bad either. I'd rented a penthouse suite at the historic Georgian Hotel at the edge of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica; imagine two mormon boys getting drunk and screwing after milleniums of abstinence and dancing all night. Oh yeh, the sex was good - Mama Pacifica wants her boys to have fun and I'm one of her favored sons. :-)
So even though the entire world has at this point adopted YMCA as its own, there is still something that happens when I'm in a crowd of people dancing and the first unmistakable riffs of the horns start up and everyone knows what's coming. I can sometimes feel the eyes of the crowd moving over in my direction to see if I'm really gonna go whole hog with the hand motions and camp it all up and stuff.
If ever there was a song that could make my whole body leap with joy, this is it because it takes me right back there to that first giddy night of disco dancing in West Hollywood with my bros in 1978 - the night my world turned from black & white to fabulous, scintillating, blindingly beautiful technicolor.
Unabashedly, unapologetically gay to the core.