It's played at sporting events and customarily requested at weddings and even area country club dances — the indomitable "Y.M.C.A." brings hands up to mimic the sign for each letter.
Considered the signature tune of the iconic dance group, the Village People set the disco era on fire with a string of smash hits ("Macho Man," "In the Navy," "Key West") and campy stage costumes, igniting a frenzy of gay and straight audiences.
Still performing 35 years later, the six members strut their stuff with over-the-top hip-grinding dance moves and dress in the costumes of "macho" stereotypes.
Today, the group, and their costume roles, consist of Felipe Rose (Native American), Ray Simpson (cop), Jeff Olson (cowboy), Alexander Briley (military), David Hodo (construction worker) and Eric Anzalone (biker). The group, along with Gloria Gaynor, is coming to the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts on Wednesday.
Their tunes were churned out on dance floors nationwide in an era when those of alternative lifestyles from Greenwich Village in New York City were coming out to proclaim their right be considered part of mainstream America.
The catchy lyrics, set to the background of the pulsating disco beat, caught on in clubs and garnered dance devotees who pushed the tune to the top of the charts.
"Y.M.C.A.," penned by Victor Willis (the cop), a filler song born in 15 minutes during a lunch break, was added to the album "Cruisin' " and released in 1978.
In 1979, it peaked at No. 2 in the U.S., selling 3.5 million records and 12 million records in countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, Italian Germany and Canada, where it charted at No. 1.
The first recruit to the group was Brooklyn born Felipe Ortiz Rose (the Native American) of Puerto Rican and Native American heritage, who was spotted in Greenwich Village in 1976, by producer Jacques Morali.
A few years later, Morali developed a group around Rose with a concept that was birthed by visionary record company executive Neil Beaugard.
Rose, now 59, said the group just wrapped up a 35-year anniversary tour in Australia and Southeast Asia that took him 10 days to recover from.
Marveling at their longevity, Rose said that while the members have aged, the show has not changed even though it was originally choreographed when the members were in their early 20s.
"We've taken a squat or two out of the show, but we still give it our all. When we see someone sitting at a show, we have to yell out 'Look at us, we are older and giving 100 percent.' That gets everyone up and dancing," Rose said.
"We were the barometers of disco scene then, and the music is experiencing a rebirth today as boomers age. People love it, they want it. They can come and forget about everything and get back to that magical time through the music."
The heavily scripted show allows leeway for fun ad-libs and is performed with custom-sequenced tracks. The Village People, Rose promised, "will tire everyone out and get them ready to sit to listen to Gloria."