Butterfingers

A/N: Okay so like a week or 2 ago i got this prompt: can you write a cute fluffy phanfic about them dancing to the end of all things by panic at the disco?

And I apologize for being lazy but I finally wrote it at like 1am last night xD I really do apologize if it sucks also thanks for introducing me to that song ITS SO BEAUTIFUL OMG

Dan rolled over in bed, his face hitting the pillow. He groaned, checking the clock. 2:32 am. Yay, another near-sleepless night. Sighing, he walked into the kitchen to go make himself a quick snack and a glass of water before inevitable browsing through tumblr for the next hour or so.

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Village People: Cruisin’
Released: September 25, 1978




In 1979, one Chicago DJ’s personal crusade/PR campaign came to a head with a ridiculous stunt at Comiskey Park, the destruction of thousands of disco records at halftime. Predictably, the event turned into a debacle—people overcrowded the park, rushed the field, the police were called, the baseball game was cancelled. It’s surreal now to imagine over 50,000 people gathering in violent protest because of a music genre, and it may be one of the only instances of such a thing being sparked purely by music itself outside of the classical concert riots of the past. No one took stock of the records carried in to be destroyed that night but you can be certain that a large percentage of the discs that lay shattered and smoldering in the grass were those by Village People, a group arguably as much the public face of disco at the time as John Travolta and the Bee Gee’s, though far more emblematic of everything that was so despised about it.

Village People were essentially a boy band, constructed by French composer Jacques Morali and producer Henri Belolo. Morali’s first break had been the the Ritchie Family’s 1975 hit disco version of “Aquarela do Brasil.” The song’s success brought Morali and Belolo from Paris to New York, and into the gay clubs that were quietly driving the genre. Disco had already been incubating for years in New York’s underground nightlife of tiny clubs and private parties, a cultural safe space for queers and people of color, a more honest, diverse and urban revision of hippie utopianism, powered by Latin music, soul, funk and psychedelia. Morali was young and passionate and Belolo was a shrewd businessman. Together, they saw huge opportunity in the gay men of the city who spent their nights living and breathing disco. Their next project would be a group designed specifically to appeal to that audience, dressed in the campy masculine garb one could spot any night in Greenwich Village.

Village People’s 1977 debut was co-written and sung entirely by Victor Willis, a Broadway performer who’d been part of the original cast of The Wiz. The album produced a minor hit and Morali was soon forced to throw together an actual group for performances, supposedly putting out an ad for “macho types” with mustaches and eventually settling in 1978 on a set of characters and performers: a cop (Willis), a Native American (Felipe Rose), a sailor (Alex Briley), a construction worker (David Hodo), a cowboy (Randy Jones) and a biker (Glenn Hughes). Though there were a number of straight men in Village People and Morali’s behind the scenes crew, the music and the group’s style practically codified an entire range of stereotypes. Odes are sung to Key West, San Francisco (a city of freedom where “every gesture has a meaning”) and Fire Island (“Don’t go in the bushes / Someone might grab you”) Institutions like the Navy and the YMCA become settings for the promise of barely concealed gay escapades. Occasionally, songs even rise above winking innuendo, like Macho Man’s surprisingly frank anthem “I Am What I Am,” which proclaims that “love is not a sin” and “people have the right to live with who they please.”

Cruisin’ is the group’s most successful album, reaching number 3 on the US charts, and it’s title is perhaps their most ridiculous insertion of gay life into mainstream culture, generally passing over the heads of straight audiences as a driving reference until William Friedkin’s controversial film Cruising made the term’s meaning clear two years later. The album opens with their biggest hit, “Y.M.C.A.,” an infamous homage to the international chain of gyms and community centers. It’s a standard, simple tune, and a shameless retread of their first hit, “San Francisco (You’ve Got Me),” driven by a pulsing beat and a melodramatic horn section answering every lyric. “Y.M.C.A.” bids “young men” to visit the Y, where “you can hang out with all the boys.” While songs like “Y.M.C.A.” and “In the Navy” read immediately as gay subversion, there is also a layer of sincerity in their promotion of American institutions. The straight Victor Willis has cited his own love of and reliance on the YMCA as a black youth, and Morali and Belolo were immigrants who saw successful lives in the U.S. as the ultimate dream. They were, after all, responsible for Patrick Juvet’s comically patriotic hit “I Love America.”

Of course, “Y.M.C.A.” is still packed with innuendo. Village People’s point of view is that of a kind of modern, all-American gay man. The joyously bobbing “I’m a Cruiser” makes cruising sound like a triumphant expression of freedom: “When I feel like having myself a fling / I just go out and I do my own thing / If the right person should pass by my way / I do not wait to make myself a play.” “The Women,” one of the album’s more soul-tinged songs, salutes “the women who know they are women,” sounding at first like a sudden feint towards heterosexuality, until the group begins listing “Judy, Marilyn, Donna, Diana…” Despite all this, Cruisin’ is—believe it or not—somewhat less provocative overall than the group’s first two albums. Tracks like Willis’s rambling personal anthem “Hot Cop” and the goofy “My Roommate” sound downright innocent.

Ultimately, the key to Village People’s sound is as much Broadway as disco. Willis’s theater background turns every song into an excerpt from a big budget musical soundtrack, lead vocals stridently addressing the listener as if from a stage, the rest of the group undergirding every point with chants and bellowed harmonies. It is a formula that becomes tiresome in repetition and it severs Village People’s music from disco’s smooth, soulful Motown sensibilities, creating something a lot harder to take seriously. Cruisin’ does close with one startling, uncharacteristically personal song. “Up’s & Down’s” has that typically insistent theater delivery but its lyrics are something else, a despairing account of pill addiction, almost certainly the work of Willis, who would spend the next three decades battling drug addiction. It’s a strange note to end on, its inappropriately happy atmosphere punctured repeatedly by chilling stabs of laser beam synth.

By the time Village People became a national phenomenon, disco had already been dragged uptown and into the mainstream, Studio 54 and Saturday Night Fever carefully scrubbing away the queerness and replacing it with a white, upper-class sheen. For a couple of years, disco was truly everywhere. Producers and artists like Rick Dees scored one-off hits with ridiculous gimmicks and “discofied” versions of classical pieces and traditional songs (remember Morali and Belolo’s “Brazil”). Familiar artists jumped on the trend, from Cher to Kiss, Rod Stewart to the Rolling Stones. Disco product flooded the market and the sound spread from New York to every town in America. The culture went from something special and unique to something snobbishly exclusive, and then to something so common that it became boring. By the end of 1979, disco was rapidly disappearing from the charts and clubs, and labels were folding left and right. Village People’s label, Casablanca Records, would be closed by PolyGram in 1986 after years of declining sales.

At the time of Disco Demolition, the narrative that the disco backlash was motivated by racism or heterosexism was only promoted by a minority of critics like Robert Christgau and Rolling Stone’s Dave Marsh, but in the three decades since that night it has become somewhat canonical. Many who took part in the backlash refute these claims. They point out, not unreasonably, that disco’s public face was largely white, straight and corporate, that the genre’s legendarily diverse underground was unknown to most of the nation. Disco was also more a producer’s genre than anything else, a fact that challenged the 60s generation’s deeply ingrained reverence to the authentic, singer-songwriter ideal.

Village People were specifically accused of exploiting gay audiences to sell records, a claim that had some merit. While the general creative mastermind behind the group (Morali) was gay, most of his collaborators were not, and it’s doubtful the executives at Casablanca were particularly interested in advancing gay rights. Still, for punks and liberal rockers afraid of being lumped in with the drunk working class teens of Demolition Night, the exploitation angle might have been a helpful way of reconciling their innate disgust with their progressive politics. If you’re cool with Lou Reed and New York Dolls, you couldn’t be a homophobe, right? But there’s great condescension in that—a gay person or a black person can only escape mockery if they’re willing to embrace overwhelmingly white or straight cultural signifiers. Maybe disco was frightening because it was a world where sexual and racial minorities didn’t have to make concessions to be cool, a space that wasn’t inherently welcoming to straight white men, no matter how liberal they were.

Village People—as much of a pandering, commercial gimmick as they honestly were—make most of those modern day refutations from disco backlashers seem even more like revisionism. There was nothing particularly coy about the group’s expressions of homosexuality, and that’s what really made them, and disco itself, dangerous. Disco was felt, if not openly acknowledged, as a radical incursion of queerness and blackness into an America that was still a decade from the death of Martin Luther King, still deeply uncomfortable with the idea that gay people even existed.

For queer people, the dancefloor has long seemed like a place where one can be redefined, where one can escape and disassemble straight conventions. This was an idea born alongside disco and it’s utopian visions, and from disco’s charred grave here in Chicago, something else bloomed unexpectedly. While underground disco continued to flourish in New York at mythic clubs like the Paradise Garage, the Midwest saw clubs and record stores close, radio stations switch formats. Gay and black communities still hungry for dance music began to form local movements that combined disco with a wide range of influences and innovative electronic sounds. Chicago’s house scene and Detroit’s techno scene, forged in the vacuum left by disco’s sudden departure, spread around the world and became the bases for the next quarter century of electronic music.

Where do Village People fit into this tangled history? They were definitely kitsch, amusing but musically uninspiring, a few inches of subversion above Disco Duck. An artifact of disco’s zenith and the gay rights movement’s first uncertain steps into pop culture, not much more. But think of it this way: without all the bitterness and rage they and their ilk inspired, the shattered records and shouted slurs, disco perhaps would have become exactly what so many critics smugly believed it would be, a depthless trend that would burn and fizzle, leaving no significant mark behind. The suppression of dance music back into the underground by the public allowed it to grow immeasurably. In the end, disco had to die to live forever, and we can give at least some thanks to Village People for helping to kill it.

5

Groot’s First Christmas

A Marvel Charlie Brown mashup!
I’ve love to see A Charlie Brown Christmas re-enacted with Marvel characters…though Groot is probably going to steal the show of whatever scene he’s in…

Amazing how putting a jumper on Rocket suddenly makes him look so cuddly…

Card for sale on redbubble here! (plus mugs, tote bags, cushions…)

Rest of my geeky cards (including Sherlock, Doctor Who and the Hobbit can be found on my tumblr here!)

Trying to get some more variety on my dash ^_^

Reblog if you post any of the following please? :)

BANDS:

  • Set It Off
  • My Chemical Romance
  • Black Veil Brides
  • Fall Out Boy
  • Panic! at the Disco

FANDOMS:

  • Supernatural
  • Sherlock 
  • Doctor Who
  • Disney
  • Marvel
  • DC
  • Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit
  • Attack on Titan
  • Harry Potter
  • In The Flesh

PAIRINGS:

  • Destiel
  • Sabriel
  • Siren
  • Stucky
  • Stony
  • Gerita
  • USUK
  • Johnlock

OTHER:

  • Art
  • Fanfiction
  • Puns
  • Anything funny, really