Dance Dance Revolution: 7 Tricks to Help you Beat the Beat

Dance Dance Revolution

Dance Dance Revolution

Light, action, dance! As a child, I had no access to a Dance Dance Revolution machine. Thus, I have no memories of grooving out to this unique cabinet. But, when I went to college, I began to hear rumors of an epic grooving game. It wasn’t until I went to an arcade with a friend from France that I was introduced to this masterpiece. It was her favorite game of all time. Though at first, I was afraid to play it due to my own lack of rhythm. I soon became hooked. I discovered why this game became an arcade classic.

Dance Dance Revolution

Dance Dance Revolution is not only a fun game but a cultural masterpiece. It continues to be fun long after its initial arrival. This is what pinball enthusiasts call the honeymoon stage. For pinballers, you can’t judge a game until after this stage. DDR passed this stage long ago and continues to blow people away. This is a trait of a true classic.


In September of 1998, a new game was released to Japan. This game was expected to flop if it ever traveled over to America. But, in less than three years, it became an arcade and cultural phenomenon.  This game was, of course, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR).

While initially appearing solely at trade shows, DDR became a hit. Even though it cost twice the amount of most arcade cabinets at the time, it soon took over at many arcades.  It became a cult classic nearly instantaneously in America. From there, it conquered the world.

DDR Shows that clever design can overcome cultural stigma and even transform a country.

Tricks of the Trade

For this section, I interviewed competitive players. Here are their top tips.

  1.  The Bar — There is a reason for the bar on the back. Expert players use it to hold on to during the game. It allows them to move more quickly from square to square. Try putting your weight most heavily on the bar. This will help you jump from block to block in the easiest way possible.
  2. Basic Beat— With the basic DDR routines, every step is on a 4th of the beat. This means that every step is expected equally apart. So always go the same tempo. You never need to speed up or slow down.  In more advanced songs, there is a step to the 8th of the beat and sometimes even the 16th of the beat. Even though this can seem a lot tougher, there is still a level of consistency.
  3. Know Thy Song— So how will you know which songs have which beat? Well, interestingly enough, there is a site that lets you sort the songs. With this tool, you can choose the easiest songs, put them into a list and take a picture with your phone. Then, when you are at the arcade, just pull up the list and you’ll know which songs to select. I would do this for you, but, since they made the tool, they deserve the credit.
  4. Easy before Hard— This one may seem a bit obvious, but it is very easy to overlook. Before you start playing the fast DDR songs, master the slow ones. So what I mean is play until your getting all perfects. If you can’t do this yet, there is no way that you can try the harder ones.
  5. The Eye Has it— Okay, so this step is not obvious at all.  For this trick, we focus on your eyes instead of your feet. Where are your eyes focusing? You may think that your eyes should be on the arrows you need to press. This is incorrect.  Your eyes should be on the upcoming arrows instead. This will help you avoid many mistakes and train you to get ready for your next moves.
  6. Conservation— While recycling may be important, I am actually referring to conserving energy. If you want to start getting really good, you need to conserve your energy while you play. To do this, try to move your arms as little as possible. wasting this little amount of energy can be the difference between finishing with an AA or an F.
  7. Play, Play, PLAY— Okay another one that might seem obvious. But this is the most important tip. It was a tip given to me when I interviewed a competition dancer. In fact, the most important tip. Just keep playing. The more you play, the more skilled your moves will become. I guarantee that with lots of practice, you will improve. It’s a simple fact.


What next?

Well once you have mastered the basics you can start adding new moves like hitting the arrows with your hand instead of your feet. There are all sorts of interesting DDR moves. This video shows some epic freestyle moves.

In fact, there are competitions for those who ‘freestyle’. These epic showdowns bring DDRers from all over the world together in one awesome place.  There is a constantly updated list of the competitions here.  Even if you don’t compete, watching others can be very fun. I have gone to one of these competitions and it was wonderful. The dancers were absolutely amazing.

DDR, while no longer a mainstream pastime, is an honored member of the arcade family.  It will continue to dominate as a niche hobby for its loyal fans. DDR changed gaming forever and will always be a groove worthy machine. Even if you don’t become a competition dancer, DDR is sure to help you get in the groove.