The Dance Dance Revolution (DDR)
sweeping across arcades and living rooms across the Bay Area is
becoming a staple showcase for young dance talent.
I must admit when I first saw DDR I thought it was just another
video game but there's a lot more to it than just arrows and dancing
-- DDR has brought video games into dance culture. That's the
revolutionary part of Dance Dance Revolution.
Lights flash from the top and music bumps from the speakers at
the bottom of this walk-in arcade game. Arrows point in one of four
directions scrolling up the screen until it aligns with the outlines
on top. At that moment, the dancer has to step on the corresponding
arrows on the floor pad.
Looks simple enough. Now imagine two arrows at the same time,
then a sequence of four making a circle, then a sequence of eight
alternating arrows. For the length of the song there will be more
than a thousand arrows scrolling across the screen.
Since 1998, DDR has been manufactured by the Japanese company
Konami. The game was wildly popular in Asia before it hit American
shores. You can find sites dedicated to DDR all over the internet.
One of the most popular is ddrfreak.com At arcades like Albany Bowl,
The Bearcade in Berkeley, and The Sony Meteron in San Francisco,
crowds of mostly teens and young adults gather to watch the Dance
Dance revolutionaries do their thing. You can even find some of the
observers shadowing the players' moves, as if they were on the pad
When dancers are new to the game you can tell. Beginners are
usually just stepping and not really dancing. After they know the
steps they start getting creative. Combining dancing talent and game
familiarity, a select few graduate to creating their own styles.
These are the stylers. When they get on the pad, all hell breaks
You might see people C-walking, breaking, raving, flipping, and
so on. Katie, 16, who plays once or twice a week, has seen stylers
"...that jump in circles, or hit the pads with their knees. Times
like that you'll have to look over people's shoulder to see what's
Adam, 18, who's been playing DDR for two years, observes, "After
like you finish the game and everybody starts clapping it's like,
'Damn, I'm hella good.'"
Watching is how people usually get into this game. "They just
sort of watch like it's something they haven't seen before," says
Ryan, 16. "It seems that more people get interested as they see
people do it. I've seen DDR around for about a year and it's grown
into a trend, or even part of a culture. Competitions are being
held, the machines are popping up everywhere, prices are going up in
some places, and more people watch every time someone good plays."
Some patrons of this game are at the arcades more than three
times a week getting their style down. Even people who own the game
on Sony Playstation or Sega Dreamcast continue to go to the arcades
to show off new moves in front crowds.
Why does DDR attract so many people? It's unlike other video
games. Jason, 19, who plays two or three times a week says "It isn't
just sitting down and watching a TV screen, you have to move
The dancing and the upbeat music put DDR right into center of
teen dance culture. It's got techno, trance, rave, hip hop, and lots
of other types of music in the different mixes. With more mixes
emerging, DDR is evolving into a culture. There's music for people
to C-walk to and music for people to rave to.
This interactive dance craze doesn't look like it's ending
anytime soon. Zeid, 18, a frequent DDR dancer believes "the whole
dance culture is gonna keep going and DDR is part of that dance
Air Number of jumps in a
Battle A mode of playing two players. Both players'
arrows begin overlapped in the center at the bottom of the screen
and branch outwards to the appropriate player's side. Introduced in
Bemani Konami's collection of music games
Boo The rating you get when you step on an arrow off-beat
Couple A mode of playing for two players where the steps
complement each other.
Difficult DDR USA's equivalent of
Double A mode where the DDRer plays on both sides
Freestyle A way of playing DDR where the object
is to look good and perform for an audience introduced in DDR Max
that requires the player to hold an arrow for some defined time
Matrix Walk Freestyle move where the performer puts one
hand on the bar and walks on the screen. Most people frown on this,
as it is known to damage machines
Unison Both players
share one group of arrows in the center of the screen; the color of
the arrows determine which player it belongs to.
Same as single player steps, but for two players. (terms from ddrfreak.com )