JJ Vincent learns that public humiliation is nothing compared to the fun of dance, dance, dancing.
I was not an early adopter of the Wii gaming system. When it first came out, I played a few games at friends’ houses—sports, auto racing, ridiculously fun rabbit games where you got to shoot things with plungers. They were fun, but nothing that made me want to run out and buy it. This lasted until I learned about these games called, “Just Dance”. If you’re not familiar with the Just Dance games, and some of their copycats, the idea is this. A popular song from the 1950’s-now plays. The colorful body on the screen makes movements and your try to mimic them. Sounds easy, right? Yeah, not so much. I learned this the hard way. Very publicly. VERY.
A company I work with had a booth at a local Relay for Life event where people could contribute a dollar, play a round of the game, and possibly win a prize. I was monitoring the game booth when we wound up with a single player, a boy about 10 years old. I couldn’t very well let him play alone. Good sport that I am, I grabbed a wiimote and stepped up. I let the kid pick the song. It was something current and, based on what I had seen so far, I thought it would be pretty easy. Set it up, push play, and off we go. I figured if he wasn’t doing too well, I’d just sort of move around and make sure he got the win.
Within about 30 seconds, I had had my pride, my decorum, and any shred of dignity I possessed handed to me.
The word you are looking for is “flail”. I did not have to try to lose. At about one minute I was just glad when the speakers did not let out a string of noises announcing that I had missed another move, and another, and another. And another. Kid looked utterly bored as he easily tripled my score without breaking a sweat.
I must confess that despite my shameful defeat and the giggling around me, I was immediately hooked. No matter how ridiculous I looked, no matter how insane the choreography on this game was (and as I saw some players doing trickier songs, I realized that some of it was pretty fancy), no matter how silly some of the animation and the music, I found myself wishing for more single players so that I could further humiliate myself in public. I had no Wii at home. None of my friends had these games. If I wanted to play, it meant spending the next three Friday nights looking like a complete goof in front of coworkers, clients, sponsors, local teenagers. Game on!
And I was not the only guy doing it! Dads did it with daughters, brothers and sisters challenged each other, groups of teens lined up for repeated plays, boys barely big enough to walk waved remotes around while everyone cheered them on. I’m pretty sure we even had some football players step up. When no one else was playing, I’d coax a buddy to play with me to draw a crowd.
But the best man-round that year was when two teenage boys were openly taunting a man in his 40’s who was hanging back, looking like he maybe wanted to play. He finally shrugged, paid his dollar, and stepped up. Two minutes later, a couple of very chastened kids and their formerly noisy buddies slunk away as the man smiled slightly, put his jacket back on, collected his female companion, and wandered off.
I am now the proud owner of a Wii and almost every Dance game on the market. And I will play it in front of anyone.