The Collegian
Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Students say late night DDR provides fun workout

Two barefoot boys drenched in sweat dance in perfect sync, seemingly hypnotized by a screen attached to a plain, white wall. They are lost in the steady beat of Japanese music, solely focused on coordinating their leg movement to the direction of the arrows rapidly floating across the glowing screen.

The Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness might seem quiet and empty between 11 p.m. and midnight during any given night, but in the game room hidden in the back, students meet to battle each other on the popular interactive music video game Dance Dance Revolution. The students said different members of the larger group could be found playing DDR any given night because it is a great post-work stress reliever.

Freshman Huan Duong said he started playing DDR at the beginning of this year when his friends introduced him to the game. He said his group of friends plays for two or three hours at night, and most of the time they are still playing at midnight when the gym closes and the staff has to kick them out.

"It is addicting," Duong said. "I have lost eight pounds since I came to Richmond from walking everywhere and from playing DDR almost every night."

Duong has successfully moved up three levels to the difficult setting. He explained that the levels are beginner, basic, difficult, expert and challenge.

"I was really bad when I first started," Duong said. "I would recommend other students try it. The longer you play, the better you will get."

The screen continued to flash as the students rotated in and out of the two competing positions. They joked and teased each other when stepping off the mats, but as two students compete, they seemed to be encapsulated by a bubble of intensity and jungle-like temperature.

Junior Lori Smith said she started playing DDR during her junior year of high school, and she is now at the expert level.

"You just have to feel the beat of the music and go with it," Smith said. "It also helps if you know the words of the song."

Smith said that like any other competitive sport, her friends play for hours, trying to top each other's either by the electronic grades DDR provides after each game or strictly by endurance.

"It might look intimidating at first, but it takes practice," Smith said. "It is an enjoyable way to stay fit and hang out with friends if you aren't into organized sports."

The rave of Dance Dance Revolution dates back to 1998 when it was first introduced by Konami, a toy and video game company, to Japanese video arcades. Then the U.S. version was released in 1999. There are more than 1,000 songs to choose from that coordinate with the arrow-directed dance steps on the sensor pad on the floor.

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According to Smith, most of the music is Japanese, but there are more and more American songs being added to the list.

Freshman Anthony Phan has been playing DDR since he was in ninth grade and now plays at the challenge setting — the top level. Phan said the game was addicting because you feel yourself getting better, and then you want to keep improving.

"It is a really great cardio workout when you get good," Phan said. "It isn't like running on the treadmill for an hour. You could play for 30 minutes with friends and have fun. You won't even realize you are playing for so long."

Senior Nate Walker works at the Weinstein Center and said sometimes these students are the only people in the gym late at night on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

"The students really seem to enjoy the game, and it is good that we have it here," Walker said. "The DDR sessions get very intense, and the students are so good that they sometimes even bring their own memory cards for the game."

The rest of the gym was quiet by 11:45 p.m. There was only one runner on a treadmill and two boys lifting weights on the second floor. But shouts of excitement and a steady flow of rhythmic music continued to flow from the game room.

Junior Hing Lung Lau said he has played almost every day since the beginning of this semester and is now at the expert level. He said DDR was a great way to work out, as opposed to running, which can be boring. Lau said the dance mats at the gym are worn out because so many people use them every day.

"I would recommend that when other students try DDR, they should keep their body moving and never stop," Lau said. "Everyone has a bad experience the first time. When you become an expert, you can tease others. It's cool"

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