British invasion

PJ Moraski, of the Village of Osceola Hills, sings and plays the guitar while he performs songs by The Beatles during The Beatlemaniacs of The Villages’ meeting.

Tie-dye-clad dancers and the tuning sounds of musical instruments greet those who attend the Beatlemaniacs of The Villages club meetings.

At 10 a.m. Fridays, anywhere from 50 to 100 people wander in and out of Odell Recreation Center in their favorite ’60s looks as club members gather to learn trivia about the Beatles and to hear or play the band’s iconic music.

Meeting people who come from all over — not just The Villages, but the country — and feeling connected by the music is the best part of the club, said Jim Fraser, president and founder of the Beatlemaniacs.

“This is something we all have in common,” said Fraser, of the Village of Silver Lake.

Club meetings last about two hours and typically start out with historical facts about the Beatles or context about the songs being played that day. That’s followed by an informational video about the band.

Afterward, some musicians perform covers of the Beatles’ songs.

The club’s Jan. 3 meeting featured songs from the “Please Please Me” album, including “I Saw Her Standing There,” which had many members out of their seats and dancing with pom-poms and tambourines.

Performers will feature one album until they run out of music from it in about a month, then move on to a different one.

Following about three to six songs from the highlighted album at each meeting, audience members can request any Beatles’ song.

The club, which has business cards that tout it as “the most fun club in The Villages,” attracts a variety of people with different political, religious and other backgrounds, Fraser said.

“We focus on ‘What do we have in common?’” Fraser said. “We talk about that.”

Roy Bill, of the Village of Buttonwood, has been attending Beatlemaniacs meetings since the beginning. He said the Beatles have huge appeal for just about everybody who grew up with their sound.

“Everyone gets to relive their youth,” he said. “It’s all Beatles. We talk about it, play music. Everyone here loves the Beatles.”

The 8-year-old club has about 600 total members on its mailing list, making the Beatlemaniacs’ reach one of the largest in The Villages.

“There are a few (Rolling) Stones fans in the audience,” Bill joked. “I don’t know how they got in.”

Staff writer Alexandria Mansfield can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5401, or alexandria.mansfield@thevillagesmedia.com.