I saw this sentence in a work of fiction. A man invited a woman to his house. It turned out that the man was having some kind of licentious party with nude people playing in a pool. The woman was a bit pissed and complained to the man: "You never said anything about playing musical people".

Does it mean "people who play music"? Although the context has nothing to do with music. Or is there any other implication?

  • Also: "Retreated to country side to engage in refined activities such as purse conversation, drinking tea, and playing musical people" under "Seven Worthies of the Bamboo Grove, • 3rd Century A.D." Chinese Flash Cards quizlet.com/17489866/chinese-flash-cards
    – Kris
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 8:15
  • 2
    And I'd say the chances that some random character in a work of trash fiction is referencing something that sounds like a bad translation from third century China approach absolute zero. I am, however, eager to learn how this ancient game is played among a group of naked people in a swimming pool.
    – KarlG
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 8:22
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    The obvious intent was "Musical Chairs" played with people, instead of chairs. Bur the obvious is not always so.
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 8:33

2 Answers 2


The woman is making a reference to the children's game of musical chairs, only substituting "people" for the necessary props in the game. I presume the sexual implications will become obvious to you when you read how the game is played.

PS. Pissed means 'drunk' in Britain and 'angry' in the US. I'm presuming the naked women in the pool were the former and the late arrival the latter, but remember that this is a very international website!


Playing musical people in this context means playing someone you are not to adjust to the social requirements.

Musical from wiktionary:

by extension, any situation where people repeatedly change positions

The answer comes from the previous paragraph.

"Well, I do hope you manage to loosen up a litte before too much longer," he said. "I mean, the whole idea of being here is to enjoy oneself. It would be such a shame if one person allowed her inhibitions to ruin the atmosphere for everyone else, wouldn't it"

Basically he is saying to Lynn to not be a party pooper, and play along with the rest of the guests.

To which she responds:

"You never said anything about playing musical people."

The follow-up paragraph in which he responds confirms that it's about adjusting to the different kind of people at the party:

"Oh dear, I do hope you're not going to start preaching any middle-class morals."

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