THE VILLAGE PEOPLE

By Leo Durham

Opening day of the 1997 Kentucky State Fair and the weather was perfect. The aromas of Fair Food, from corn dogs and funnel cake to bar-b-q and ostrich burgers fill the air as the sounds of midway barkers fill the ears. Having toured the exhibit halls seeing live stock, quilts, and cakes we took our overflowing free totes filled with new refrigerator magnets and a multitude of promotional papers past the crowds of booted and adorned fans waiting for the "big" show to the stadium for the FREE concert. We were ready to sit and be entertained by legends in their own disco time, The Village People.

Forget sitting. It soon became apparent that the enthusiastic crowd was ready to do more than just sit. They were ready to Disco! From young to old, from toddlers to those who survived the rigors of Studio 54, this was a crowd ready to take a step back in time and welcome one of the more outrageous group of that gone but far from forgotten era. And welcome them they did. From the opening number, "Macho Man" to their " Y.M.C.A" anthem, few could resist the urge to stand and shake their booties.

Yes, there they were: the Leather Man, the Cop, the hard-hat Construction Worker, Soldier, Cowboy and Indian Chief. Dressed in costumes familiar to their devotees, The Village People Nineties style proved to be as alive and well and outrageous today as they were in those Disco Club days, when their sound vibrated to the spinning ceiling lights and we discoed the night away.

Enthusiastically, the crowd danced and sang along to a program mainly devoted to familiar tunes. Their ironic rendition of "American Band" reminded us that there was a time when The Village People epitomized the outrageous elements of the glittering Disco scene. Forget the trite lyrics and the repetitive tunes: it is the driving beat and the moving feet we had come to hear and share.

Between numbers, each in turn reviewed their careers and introduced each new number, often calling on the audience to sing along. The spectators were more than willing to oblige. No matter how tired the legs and feet were from hours of touring the Fair, most could not resist the call to get up and boogie down. To the advice to "Go West Young Man" or the rhythms of "In the Navy," each new favorite was met with appreciative applause. Disco, disco! Even those old hand moves seemed to come back as the first chords of Y.M.C.A. signaled the end of their show.

Musique, with high heels and higher hair, opened the show and worked the audience with a nostalgic set featuring the greatest hits of Disco Divas. If they were a little heavy on the hits of Donna Summer, this set by an attractive female trio served well in preparing the audience for the main attraction.

It was good to see The Village People and to find that they are as iconoclastic and over the top as we had remembered. Perhaps it is time for a sequel to their only film (directed by Nancy Walker), Allan Carr's wonderfully horrible 1980 Can't Stop the Music! After all, if the Brady Bunch can do it, why not The Village People?