I am the Dance Master!


At least that’s what the game tells me. Which makes me feel pretty good even though most of the time I get told that I could do better, or that I need to redeem myself.

The sedentary writer is a sad writer. Our bodies were meant to move. In all directions. And stretch. Otherwise our bodies will forget what they are supposed to do and we’ll be left with the words “I used to be able to…” falling out of our lips as we fall out of our chairs. How is the brain supposed to compose the next grand opus if it is mired down in sludge and Funyuns?

Walking works fairly well for me. Or it seemed to. It is problematic for reasons I won’t go into. A stationary bike caught my eye and I set it up next to the non-electric, fully manual treadmill that tormented me for awhile. The bike had it’s charms, but in the end we also had a parting of ways.

Then I decided to try something I had heard about….I’m not sure where. DDR! The dancing arcade game has a home version. Hmmm. I used to be a dancer. I love dancing. I’m one of those house choreographers, I crank up the music and go for it with wild abandon. With a fervor and flair that would go viral on YouTube in less than half a day becoming something I would never get over. It would be shown and talked about on the news–in a BAD way, with raucous laughter. My children….and husband would have to change their names. Oh yeah, the curtains definitely get closed everytime.

Seems that even the things we love can become problematic. When you like to dance, it’s easy to lose steam. Depression also opens the door for that nasty inner critic to do her worst and the next thing I know, I’m sitting on the sidelines thinking I should be dancing but have no heart to get back up. That’s when I can hear my heart beat slow and feel my blood thicken.

Dance Dance Revolution, or DDR, is a video game. I’ll say it again, it’s a video game. I’ve mentioned DDR to family and acquaintances and I’ve gotten this reaction twice: “What’s DDR?” “Oh, that’s the video game that my 5yo daughter likes to play.” The Inner Critic turns inside me and whispers, “I told you so.”

Well, it’s either screw them or screw me and I’ve gotta tell you, I’m tired of being screwed over like that.

I bought my first DDR game and brought it home with a cold sort of attitude. It would have to earn my respect and in turn my love and devotion. I flattened out the dance mat and let my sons take it for the first whirl. After some technical snafus were fixed, I stepped onto the dance mat for my first time. I looked at the screen. Arrows flew up the screen and terror dropped down into my stomach. I was stupid and uncoordinated. For Pete’s sake! A FIVE YEAR OLD CAN PLAY THIS!!

Too many things! WAY too many things to watch and move and overcome. The music wouldn’t let me quit and trust me, I wanted to. It’s not fun to bounce off a new learning curve and roll to the bottom where that damned Inner Critic wickedly grins at you and displays that ridiculous thumb and forefinger “L” upon her judgmental forehead.

In most things I find similarities to the writing process. I found the writing metaphors in DDR to be so deep I could hardly see the dance mat to hit the arrows.

I pushed through the doubts, fears and stumbles. I’m so happy I didn’t quit. I feel fan-damn-tastic! I’ve been playing DDR on the Wii for three years now. I don’t see myself giving it up anytime soon. It’s working for me like nothing else has. It feeds my body, it feeds my soul and it feeds my brain. Did I say how great I feel?! I’ve gained back things I had lost. I also jump rope and walk a mountain trail nearby. (I will blog the mountain trail with, hopefully, a video in a couple of days.) But those don’t do for me what DDR does.

I got this link from the Dance Dance Revolution facebook page. It’s from The Worlds Strongest Librarian and here he has a guest blogger, Faizal S. Enu, who talks about DDR. Mr. Enu is a strength coach, he trains athletes-so this was particularly interesting to hear from a training standpoint all the benefits he finds in DDR.

The only point I would disagree with is he says that fat people don’t DDR and I know that they do. Especially in the teen aged world, it is against the social rules for fat people to do anything in public, so it’s true that you’re not going to see many fat people on the DDR arcade pad. There is a young man who completely rocked the arcade DDR and he is listed on YouTube as “Fat Kid DDR.” Nice, huh?

Go read Mr. Enu’s article and if you have any questions about the home game for Wii, let me know. I “play” an hour every day, Mon through Fri. There is a new title to be released in August and I can’t wait! Three years, and I’m not bored. I haven’t hit the ceiling of the capabilities of the game yet either, I still have goals.

Here’s a YouTube that went viral several years ago-in a GOOD way, of a FIVE year old boy rocking the home version of Dance Dance Revolution:

Here is Dance Dance Revolution being played in an arcade. These guys are at Castles and Coasters which is an arcade near me:

Here’s DDR being played in an arcade freestyle. The dancers memorize the steps and then choreograph a routine around them:

Did you read what the trainer said about DDR? Do you have questions or comments?
Do you play DDR? Do you want to try DDR now?
As a writer, what do you do to keep the blood moving in a good direction and your brain engaged?

posted under Miscellany

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