It’s torture to stay at the…

Cidu Bill on Feb 16th 2017


Or maybe the king loves the song, and that’s why he wants his prisoners to re-create it for him.

On a related note, how tired do you think YMCAs are of seeing this:


“Yeah, yeah, we get it. And it was hysterical back in 1978, before you were even born.”

And okay, while we’re here, there was this.

Filed in Bill Bickel, Dave Coverly, Speed Bump, YMCA, comic strips, comics, humor | 33 responses so far

33 Responses to “It’s torture to stay at the…”

  1. zbicyclist Feb 16th 2017 at 12:44 pm 1

    Comedian Russell Peters has a nice routine including quite a bit on YMCA. A funny 4 minutes:

    The YMCA part begins about 2:30 into the video.

  2. James Pollock Feb 16th 2017 at 01:09 pm 2

    In the King’s defense, the song is REALLY dumb.

    There are dumber songs (lookin’ at YOU, “land of 1000 dances”), but they lie mostly dormant.

  3. Mona Feb 16th 2017 at 01:29 pm 3

    A couple of decades a go I worked with a younger guy for a short time. He was a real - oops, can’t use that word here - and also a big baby and a big bullly (he cried when they walked him out after being “let go”). But I digress….
    Somehow the YMCA came up in conversation, he wondered what the letters stood for and I told him Young Men’s Christian Association. He proceeded to tell me how stupid and full of sh!t I was. Whatever, little man.

  4. Cidu Bill Feb 16th 2017 at 01:50 pm 4

    Mona, isn’t is interesting how the most ignorant among us are the one most sure of themselves?

  5. DemetriosX Feb 16th 2017 at 02:17 pm 5

    @JP: It’s a terrible song, but it’s not quite so dumb when you realize that it’s full of coded (or what passed for coded in the mid-70s) language from the gay community. Basically, the whole point of the song is if you’re a gay man, the Y is a place you can go to meet other gay men with a significantly lower risk of being beaten to a pulp. A gay acquaintance who was an adult at the time said the whole community thought it was hilarious watching clueless straight men bellowing the song out in various venues.

  6. Mona Feb 16th 2017 at 02:20 pm 6

    I think my experience with that guy influences my thoughts on [self-censored] someone else.

  7. B.A. Feb 16th 2017 at 02:36 pm 7

    DemetriosX, did anybody in the 70s really not understand the context of the song?

  8. James Pollock Feb 16th 2017 at 03:17 pm 8

    “It’s a terrible song, but it’s not quite so dumb when you realize that it’s full of coded (or what passed for coded in the mid-70s) language from the gay community.”

    Except I’m aware of this, and have been all along… subtlety was not part of the Village People’s presentation any more than it was of, say, Kiss’. It’s just not a deep and thoughtful song, at any level.
    It’s not that songs that don’t really have anything to say can’t be successful… who let the dogs out?… but when they ARE successful, they tend to burn brightly and then fade away quickly, often taking the band with them. Paul McCartney gets a LOT of mileage, still, out of “Hey, Jude” but every time he does… EVERY TIME, he milks it for WAY too long, and it always reminds me of the washed-up has-been bands who play the county-fair nostalgia circuit (”hey, remember when we had THIS hit?”) And… I still like it better than “Band on the Run”, which wants to be a song that tells a story, but hasn’t got a story to tell. McCartney also gave us “Silly Love Songs”, thus completing the trifecta of banality. (If it seems I’m overly-critical of Sir Paul, keep in mind that most artists who annoy me don’t get a second chance.)

  9. Mark M Feb 16th 2017 at 04:39 pm 9

    @5 DemetriousX - I’m not sure why your acquaintance assumed straight men were clueless about the song. As a straight teenager when the song came out (no pun intended!), I think it was well known what the song was about. I didn’t feel like I was changing my sexual orientation by singing it at events.

    As far as the comic, I thought it would work better with the king hating the song.

  10. James Pollock Feb 16th 2017 at 05:41 pm 10

    “As far as the comic, I thought it would work better with the king hating the song.”

    I suggest a better dialog would have been “Now that I think about it, maybe we SHOULD HAVE done that song the king kept asking for…”

  11. Arthur Feb 16th 2017 at 05:59 pm 11

    Whether the comic works better with the king loving or hating
    the song depends on whether you think those four people
    performed it for the king.

  12. waferthinmint Feb 16th 2017 at 08:06 pm 12

    CIDU Bill said: “isn’t is interesting how the most ignorant among us are the one most sure of themselves?”

    Yeats said it first: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity. ”

    But let’s not talk politics.

  13. Bob in Nashville Feb 16th 2017 at 09:36 pm 13

    Last funny reference I’ve seen to that song and dance was in the movie “Wayne’s World.”

  14. James Pollock Feb 16th 2017 at 11:23 pm 14

  15. Pirk Feb 16th 2017 at 11:57 pm 15

    I can’t be the only person who became aware of the YMCA’s existence by hearing the Village People song.

    I guess if you were growing up before or when the song came out, you probably knew about the YMCA before that. But I think a lot of people now, they sincerely know about the YMCA first from hearing about it in the song.

  16. James Schend Feb 17th 2017 at 01:05 am 16

    Not only have I only heard about it from the song, I still don’t really know what the YMCA *is*. (Although I’ve never really looked into it.) I guess it’s a cheap/free gym facility? There’s none in my hometown, I’d have to drive to Seattle to actually go there.

    My parents never took me there when I was growing up, I’ve never had any friends talk about going there for any reason. Pretty much all I got is the song.

  17. James Pollock Feb 17th 2017 at 02:46 am 17

    I went to YMCA camp for 3 summers. (Camp Orkila, in the San Juan Islands) as did my father and all of the male cousins. My last year there, they started having girls at the same camp.

    Our cabins had three walls, and were open on the fourth. The electrical plant consisted of one bare light bulb in the center of the ceiling. Bathroom facilities were down the trail a couple of hundred yards, and only some of the path was lit at night.

    To accommodate girls at the camp, they built new cabins, with four walls, dozens of electrical outlets, and indoor plumbing. They also got bunks with actual mattresses; ours were basically plywood shelves.

    No, I wasn’t one of the reactionaries who said some variation of “what? girls? In OUR club?” and I understand a need for privacy in a suddently co-ed facility. But still…

  18. Kilby Feb 17th 2017 at 05:46 am 18

    I’ve never liked the song, but there is a very funny version of it at the end of “Despicable Me 2″, performed by four “minions” in appropriate costumes. It does work a bit better if you’ve just watched the movie.

  19. Terry Feb 17th 2017 at 08:31 am 19

    Mona - I knew a radiologist who was, in a sense, like your guy: Often wrong, but never in doubt.

  20. Bob in Nashville Feb 17th 2017 at 08:39 am 20

    That’s where you don’t have to be wealthy to use an indoor swimming pool.

  21. Powers Feb 17th 2017 at 08:57 am 21

    In the first half-plus of the 20th Century, YMCAs were intended to help get young men (thus the name) off the street. Thus, they provided free or inexpensive dormitory housing, training facilities, cafeterias, and, yes, pools and gymnasia for recreation purposes. Modern YMCAs, especially suburban ones, have largely abandoned the housing and primarily serve as non-profit health clubs for all genders and ages.

    There are also YWCAs, but they never developed the same prevalence and generally today remain resource centers for women in need and their children.

  22. Heather Feb 17th 2017 at 09:18 am 22

    Whether or not the song has deep and meaningful lyrics, and regardless of the hidden (or not so hidden) double meanings, the song is just so darn *catchy*.

    I’m the director of a community concert band and one of our favourite new chart acquisitions of the past few years is a medley of disco tunes. Seriously. It’s 3 or 4 70’s disco tunes arranged for concert band and it is amazingly well done and SO much fun to play. It starts with “That’s the Way (uh-huh uh-huh) I Like It” and the finale in the medley is YMCA.

  23. Ian D Osmond Feb 17th 2017 at 11:24 am 23

    James Schend — well, they’re not free, but they are “not turned away for inability to pay if we can possibly help it.” There are fundraisers to raise money for discounted and donated memberships for people who can’t afford it.

    The most significant part of the Y is the exercise and physical education parts — gyms, swimming pools, basketball courts, yoga classes, and so forth, but they also do summer camps for kids, and act as community centers. A Y would be one of the sorts of places that would host AA meetings or the like, for instance.

    The Y’s history is tied to the mid-to-late 1800s “muscular Christianity” movement, which suggested that health was physical, mental, and spiritual, which is why the Y’s logos have always had a triangle motif through them. They were designed as places for young men to improve themselves in all ways, which meant that they were gyms, classrooms, and hostels, among other things. And, yes, the “hostel” thing lasted until the seventies in some places, which is why they were good places for runaways to get shelter, and, since so many runaway teen boys were kicked out for being gay, it was a place a lot of gay kids ended up.

    The Young Men’s Christian Association officially changed their name to just “YMCA” sometime in the, oh, sixties, maybe, to de-emphasize the “Christian” part, and make it clear that it was for Jews, atheists, Muslims, Hindus, pagans, and whatever, too. They keep their spiritual/ethical/community focus, but not in a religious sense. And recently changed their official name to “The Y”. But “YMCA” is still their trademark and their URL, so the names are interchangeable.

    The difference between the Y and a gym is that the Y exists in a community and ethical context. They have a mission of social change which includes physical health through nutrition and exercise, but is not limited to that. They focus on the physical health, nutrition, exercise, and recreation of children, too, because they believe that making sure that both privileged and disadvantaged kids can get plenty of safe and healthy play together is good for society.

    Historically, Y’s have been more often on the right side of history than the wrong one. During times of segregation, yeah, they were segregated, but did have Black Y’s that were supported as much as White ones. The YMCA membership tended to be on the abolitionist and suffragist side of things, although not always. So, on the whole, the Y has been more often a good guy than a bad guy.

    Basically, yeah, I like the Y, which is why I’m a member. If you’re looking for a place to work out regularly, and one of the options is a Y, I’d encourage everybody to take a strong look at it. If your local Y doesn’t have what you need, or another option is a lot cheaper, then, sure, go ahead and do that instead. But all else being equal, I like being part of the gym that has a larger mission to try to make the community a little better, if I can.

    To me, things like the YMCA, the Red Cross, the Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts are the things which are supposed to represent “Good Guy America.” They don’t, always, which is frustrating, but if I imagine a mythical “Platonic Ideal Of What America Is Supposed To Be”, those are the sorts of organizations which are supposed to be there, working with everybody all together making things better.

  24. Ian D Osmond Feb 17th 2017 at 11:25 am 24

    An interesting observation: the “YMCA dance” that they’re doing on the wall there, the one that we all do at Bar Mitzvahs and all — that isn’t the actual choreography… the Village People’s original choreography doesn’t have the letters in it. Watch it some time.

  25. Mark M Feb 17th 2017 at 12:08 pm 25

    One of my favorite Smiths songs is “Half a Person” which has the line
    “I booked myself in at the Y… WCA”. There has been a lot of debate on why Morrisey went with the women’s facility for the lyric, but trying to understand any of his lyrics is pretty much guesswork.

  26. Mark in Boston Feb 17th 2017 at 10:32 pm 26

    There are also YMHA’s — Young Men’s Hebrew Association — dating back to most the time of the original YMCA’s. There is one in downtown Boston. I seem to remember it’s across the street from the Masonic Temple, but I don’t know if it’s still operational as such.

    Someone told me that the YMCA song is about one of those unfortunate boys who has been kicked out of the house by his parents for being gay. The story is told in the second person; the narrator has also had that experience: “Young man, I was once in your shoes.”

  27. Kilby Feb 18th 2017 at 12:45 am 27

    @ Powers (21) - There are also YWCAs, but …

    I took swimming lessons at two different Y’s, the latter of the two being a YWCA, which (as a very young kid) made me worry whether it was OK for a boy to go to a women’s institution (especially since the first thing we did there was get undressed).

  28. Boise Ed Feb 18th 2017 at 08:00 pm 28

    Bill [4]: I thought we weren’t going to get into politics and voters.

  29. Kilby Feb 22nd 2017 at 09:51 pm 29

    @ Boise Ed (28) - Applause, applause!

  30. Meryl A Mar 1st 2017 at 12:53 am 30

    I know I posted this - I even marked the strip to come back to it for later posts - but it is not here.

    The YMHA/YWHA’s have mostly changed their names to Jewish Community Centers (different from “Jewish Centers” which are Conservative Jewish Synagogues). These, by the way, are the JCCs which are getting the threatening phone calls right now.

    Now my sister, who is Jewish, lives in an area with both - for some reason niece and nephew both learned to swim at the YMCA . (Really odd that my sister would join as she would not even let the kids come and see our Christmas tree.)

  31. Mona Mar 1st 2017 at 02:14 am 31

    Meryl, I remember (at least I think I do) reading your post before that you thought you posted before. I wonder if it got posted under a different comic somehow?

  32. Cidu Bill Mar 1st 2017 at 02:43 am 32

    That’s what I’m thinking as well: I remember reading it, and even WordPress hasn’t thought of retroactive moderation.

    And God knows we take thread drift to new heights around here.

  33. Meryl A Mar 9th 2017 at 03:38 am 33

    Perhaps. Then at least I know I am not crazy and might have actually posted it - somewhere.

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