When news broke that the Y.M.C.A. is mangling its moniker to simply go by "the Y," CultureMap went straight to the people who would be hit hardest by the acronym rupture: The Village People.
Their 1978 hit song, extolling the virtues of the Young Men's Christian Association and its honorable standing as a gay cruising and hookup hotspot, is now faced with instant irrelevance with the association's switch. Once a staple at every ballgame, Bar Mitzvah and bathhouse, "Y.M.C.A." will be faced by future generations with little recognition. The very nature of America's appreciation for double entendre and line dancing is at stake.
CultureMap was able to get in touch with the band on the road, where it has been performing year-round for 33 years. States the Village People:
We are deeply dismayed by today's announcement from the Y.M.C.A. that they feel a name change and a rebranding are in order after 166 years. Some things remain iconic and while we admire the organization for the work they do, we still can't help but wonder Y."
Let it be known that the Village People will continue to perform all four letters in their concerts around the world, which this summer and fall include venues in such disparate locales as Massachusetts, Australia and Central America. It is our hope that the band will be able to weather the enormous cultural shift that "the Y" has instigated.
Much like our favorite hometown homegirls, the group formerly known as Destiny's Child, the Village People has had a rotating cast of characters. In case you've lost track, the Village People are:
- Ray Simpson, who replaced Victor Willis as the group's lead singer/Cop character in 1979, beginning with the group's cult hit film Can't Stop the Music (not to be confused with Rihanna's hit single, "Don't Stop the Music").
- Felipe Rose, who is the one and only Indian, and was the basis for the creation of the group.
- Alexander Briley, the versatile G.I./Military Man.
- David Hodo, the original Construction Man.
- Jeff Olson, who, in 1980, replaced Randy Jones as the Cowboy immediately after Can't Stop the Music.
- Eric Anzalone, who joined the group in 1995 as the Biker/Leatherman, as original member Glenn Hughes began battling lung cancer.
If the Y.M.C.A.'s name change is the association's method of making itself hip, perhaps they should think twice. Remember when Kentucky Fried Chicken attempted to change their rep by switching to KFC? Their menu is yet to be regarded as health food. British Petroleum's shortening to BP hasn't left itself looking squeaky clean, either.
Watch the original 1978 video: