The Irresistible Feeling And Meaning Behind The YMCA Song Sunday September 3 2023, 2:30 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
The Irresistible Feeling And Meaning Behind The YMCA Song

What Is The Meaning Of The Song YMCA?

When it comes to iconic songs that have transcended generations, the Village People's "YMCA" is undoubtedly one of the top contenders.

With its catchy tune and unforgettable dance moves, it has become a staple at parties (especially disco-related), sporting events, and celebrations around the world.

But what is the true meaning behind this disco classic?

I recently took a deep dive into the story behind the songwriting, the conflicts in meaning among the band members, and why "YMCA" remains so relatable even after all these years.

The Story Behind The Songwriting

"YMCA" was originally thought to be penned by Jacques Morali, Henri Belolo, and Victor Willis, the latter of whom was also the lead singer of the Village People.

Decades later, a court case over the copyright behind the creative process shows a different story, though, and I'll get to that later.

The initial intention behind the song was to celebrate the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and the recreational activities it offered.


That's when someone came up to meAnd said, young man, take a walk up the streetIt's a place there called the Y.M.C.AThey can start you back on your way

The lyrics are straightforward, promoting the idea of having a good time and finding camaraderie at the YMCA.

However, the song's enduring popularity and broader interpretation took on a life of its own. It became an anthem for the LGBTQ+ community, offering a message of acceptance, unity, and celebration.

They have everything for young men to enjoyYou can hang out with all the boys

Lyrics like the two lines above, plus The Village People themselves, with their flamboyant costumes representing various stereotypes, added to the song's allure.

Conflict In Meaning Amongst The Band Members 

One of the fascinating aspects of "YMCA" is the differing interpretations of its meaning among the band members.


While Victor Willis, the song's lyricist who portrayed the cop character in the group, initially saw the song as a straightforward celebration of the YMCA, others in the band saw it as an opportunity to embrace the LGBTQ+ community.

Victor said in an interview:

"I wanted to write a song that could fit anyone's lifestyle. I'm happy the gay community adopted it as their anthem; I have no qualms with that."

But other band members said that it was obviously meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek with a double meaning that also celebrated the gay community. 

David Hoto, who posed as the construction worker, said the following years later:

"Y.M.C.A." certainly has a gay origin. That's what Jacques was thinking when he wrote it, because our first album was possibly the gayest album ever. I mean, look at us. We were a gay group. So, was the song written to celebrate gay men at the YMCA? Yes. Absolutely. And gay people love it."

And on top of that, Randy, who posed as the cowboy, said the following: 

"With Jacques being gay, I had a lot of friends I worked out within the adult film industry, and he was impressed by meeting people he had seen in the videos and magazines. Those visits with me planted a seed in him, and that's how he got the idea for "Y.M.C.A." - by literally going."

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Victor Willis' Legal Claims In Later Years 

While Jacques was a flamboyant gay member who could have had some say in the overall creation of the song, it seems that he didn't lend a hand in the lyric writing at all.

Frontman Victor Willis recently won a legal battle to reclaim partial ownership of the copyrights to "YMCA" and other Village People songs.

In 2020, Jacqeus publicly stated the following via social media: 

"News and Twitter trending of Y.M.C.A. is off the chart right now with false accusations about the song. But as I've said numerous times before (and this was proven in federal court), I wrote 100% of the lyrics to Y.M.C.A., so I ought to know what my song is about."

It seems that over the years, Victor has been fine with the song being taken in by the gay community as its anthem, but he has issues with the lewdness that some people think the message in the lyrics portrays. 

He stated on Facebook:

"Y.M.C.A. is one of the most iconic songs in the world. I will not stand idle and allow it to be defamed. Therefore, I will sue the next media organization, or anyone else, that falsely suggests Y.M.C.A. is somehow about illicit gay sex. Get your minds out of the gutter, please!"

Why The Song Is So Relatable 

Regardless of the differences in creative interpretation, "YMCA" has a timeless quality that makes it relatable to people of all ages and backgrounds. Here are a few reasons why the song continues to resonate:

Catchy Tune: The infectious melody and simple, repetitive lyrics make it easy for anyone to sing along with. 

The Dance: In particular, the iconic dance moves associated with the song, including the hand gestures forming the letters "Y," "M," "C," and "A," have become a universal language of celebration. 

Inclusivity: The song's message of finding acceptance and a sense of belonging strikes a chord with many, regardless of their background or identity. Plus, the dance moves invite everyone to join in the fun and feel part of something bigger.

Nostalgia: For those who grew up in the disco era, "YMCA" is a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It brings back memories of a time when disco ruled the airwaves.

Celebration: "YMCA" is synonymous with celebration. Whether it's a wedding, a birthday party, or a victory at a sporting event, this song has the power to bring people together and create a festive atmosphere.

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Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

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