No Offense “Village People,” But…
The Village People pose for a Casablanca Records publicity shot circa 1980 (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
The Village People was a music group that emerged in the late 1970s after disco became popular. The group was a compilation of different singers each portraying a historically masculine persona. After disco caught on and discotheques began popping up across the country, the majority of the counterculture population just wanted to puke!
Up until the disco era, rock and roll had been dominating the music scene. Disco became popular with the urban nightlife scene and became mainstream almost overnight. In the beginning, audiences were primarily gay, African American, Italian American, Latino. Dances were more choreographed instead of just the mindless swaying and jumping that was seen at places like Woodstock. It was thought of as the answer/antidote to the counterculture music era.
During this time in music history, it was popular for bands to perform in signature costumes. The Village People were one of those groups. Their intention was two-fold. First, by dressing in costume, they were easily recognizable and unforgettable and, second, it was an attempt to associate with the growing homosexual populous that was struggling to identify with society.
The Village People was the creation of French music composer, Jacques Morali. He had written some dance tunes, which became hits. They had become so popular that there was a demand for live performances. Morali began looking for dancers to dance live to his tunes and so the search was on.
At the time, New York City’s Greenwich Village had a growing homosexual community known to dress in animated and flashy clothes when out partying on the town. The personas associated with The Village People were to have been a representation of this particular population. A group of stereotypical, masculine, fantasy characters was quickly put together to perform in clubs which ended up being a huge success with the target demographic.
Live performances went over so well that there was soon a demand for a permanent group. An advertisement for casting went out that read as follows: "Macho Types Wanted: Must Dance and Have a Moustache.". Before long, The Village People had emerged. They soon began performing live in clubs and on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.
Group personas included a Native American, a police officer, a construction worker, a soldier, a cowboy and a biker. They dressed up and hit the stage, taking their audiences by storm. More songs were written and released, bringing the group a lot of success. Even if you weren’t a fan, its hard to deny that some of the songs were catchy. A couple of their more successful releases include Macho Man, YMCA and In the Navy. Eventually, they earned their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Rock music had a long run in the 1960s and 1970s. Countless rock and roll icons emerged during that time in history. When disco made the scene, people either loved it or hated it. Most said it wouldn’t last and they were right to an extent. The Village People definitely hit their mark with the disco era and celebrated many successes, unlike others who just faded away. They are still remembered for their most popular songs that can still be heard today. Personally, I never really saw the charm in disco. Rock and roll, however, was thought to also be a fad but has definitely stood the test of time.
Tags: The 1970s | The Village People
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