“Y.M.C.A,” for many a gay anthem, was played at full blast by organisers over the public address system at the Adler Arena speedskating oval during Saturday’s competition.
With the crowd dancing and hopping to the disco hit of the Village People, the organisers pre-empted a difficult choice for the Dutch brass band that always performs at Olympic speed skating ovals, since Kleintje Pils feared performing the song might antagonise the Russian authorities.
The oompah band will arrive only next weekend and had feared it might impede a ban on information about “nontraditional sexual relations” signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Band leader Ruud Bakker said he wanted to include it in its sing-along repertoire as “a signal” even though he did not want to become part of a “political game.” Over the past weeks, it briefly threatened to become a political issue in the Netherlands, known for its liberal views on sexuality.
Now that organisers played the song themselves, the issue appears to be off the table. Venue organisers can pick from a playlist of 4,600 tracks approved by the Sochi organising committee, said venue press manager Cornelia Schmid.
It went on during an intermission at the oval when a presenter asked a fan what song she wanted to hear. When it turned out to be “Y.M.C.A,” the tune was immediately unleashed on the crowd.