THE Village People reduced Bournemouth Square to a standstill in a show of fabulous flamboyance this afternoon.
Passers-by milling through the town centre looked up in surprise at 5.30pm as the sound of sirens blared from the distance – before a vintage New York police car rolled into the pedestrianised zone.
Escorted by men holding placards above their heads adorned with the words ‘decades of campness’, the policemen inside emerged to the sound of anthem YMCA before being joined by the rest of their fancy dressed entourage.
A crowd quickly gathered as the group, including a native American, cowboy, construction worker and a man wearing leathers performed the iconic dance routine.
Halfway through the act the cast of Sister Act, which is showing at the Pavilion between July 22 and 26, sprung from hiding behind a wall to accompany the strutting troupe.
Once finished, the audience was asked over the loud speaker system to join in themselves and a path was made through the sea of people watching to allow children to join the ensemble in the middle.
The stunt, known as a flash mob, had been organised ahead of the town’s annual Bourne Free Festival, which is kicking off tonight.
One of the event’s organisers, Christopher Ashton-Hollis, said they were keen to do something particularly special for the festival’s tenth anniversary.
“It is very important to celebrate diversity,” he added. “We never know how busy it is going to be, but the atmosphere has been amazing and there must be 500 people or more watching.
“We even had a dog doing the dance and it’s great to see the children having fun too.”
Spectator Kiri Robb, 29, said he had heard a rumour earlier in the day that something might be happening and was sufficiently intrigued to come and take a look.
“It was amazing,” he added. “It looked so much fun and the atmosphere was great.”
Reuben Dold, who moved to Bournemouth from Germany three months ago, said: “It is things like this which make me love it here. It is so colourful, international and inclusive.”