Tag Archives: YMCA

Gay Disco Music History: Henri Belolo, Co-Founder of the Village People, Dies at 82

Gay Disco Music History: Henri Belolo, Co-Founder of the Village People, Dies at 82

Henri Belolo — he’s the one without a costume — with the Village People in an undated photograph. Mr. Belolo and the composer Jacques Morali, a business partner, created the group in 1977 after, he recalled, they “started to fantasize on what were the characters of America.”

Henri Belolo, one of the creative minds behind the Village People, died on Aug. 3 of pancreatic cancer at his home in Paris. He was 82.

Via the New York Times:

Mr. Belolo had been a music producer and executive in Morocco and France in 1977 when one night he and the composer Jacques Morali, his business partner, were at the Anvil, an after-hours gay nightclub in the West Village of Manhattan. They noticed a bartender who doubled as a dancer wearing a headdress and loincloth.

As they watched, the man, Felipe Rose — who was wearing that outfit to honor his Native American father — attracted the attention of a man dressed as a cowboy.

“Jacques and I suddenly had the same idea,” Mr. Belolo told the website Disco-Disco in 2000. “We said, ‘My God, look at those characters.’ So we started to fantasize on what were the characters of America. The mix, you know, of the American man.”

Mr. Belolo, who was straight, and Mr. Morali, who was gay, initially focused on gay listeners as the group’s core audience. They had regularly frequented gay clubs in Manhattan like the Anvil and the Ramrod. Later after the group became popular they packaged the Village People as a “straight group” but everybody.

Jacques Morali, died from complications of AIDS in 1991, believed that he and Mr. Belolo could build hits in gay discos — “Y.M.C.A.” rose to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979; “In the Navy” reached No. 3 that same year; “Macho Man” peaked at No. 25 in 1978.

Dutch Brass Band To Play ‘Y.M.C.A.’ at Sochi Olympics In Protest – Hey, Hey Hey, Hey, Hey!

Brass Band

The popular Dutch band, Kleintje Pils, says that it will include the popular 1970’s gay disco anthem, “Y.M.C.A.” as part of its musical repertoire this year at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in protest of Russia’s inhuman anti-gay laws. The band that always performs at Olympic speed skating ovals will perform the iconic song as a sign of support for [LGBT] rights.

Band leader Ruud Bakker told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Kleintje Pils will mix the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” in its sing-along repertoire as “a signal.”

Indirect moves by athletes to show support for gays have already caused controversy in Russia. At last August’s world athletics championships in Moscow, Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro sported rainbow colors on her nails. In the final, however, Green Tregaro went with red nails after track officials said her earlier gesture might violate the meet’s code of conduct.

For many, the Sochi Olympics have become a cause célèbre, highlighting the hostility, and in many cases indifference, that Russians have shown toward the plight of the LGBT community since Russian President Vladimir Putin enacted several legislative measures aimed at stopping the spread of what he calls LGBT ‘propaganda’ directed at children. As a result, violence toward that community has increased.

For others, the Sochi Olympics are a slap in the face of human rights and a symbol of an impotent steering committee that has overlooked not only the attacks on the LGBT community but other Russian groups (including the Caucasians) that have fallen victim to the heavy hand of Putin’s government.

I may not be a major protest but at least it is a protest which is more than the Human Rights Campaign has done or has planned.