In the Groove Arcade Kids On My Summer Vacation

The handrail behind the DDR and In the Groove arcade dance pads have always confused me. I've really only seen YouTube video of kids salsa dancing with them and the handrails never came into play. Was it there for safety? How could you use it and still see the screen?

I got my answer to the mystery handrail last week on vacation in the Cape Cod Mall FYE arcade. My daughter, father-in-law and I were passing the time in the arcade while my wife and her mom shopped for maternity and baby boy clothes. My father-in-law played a soccer themed pinball game while my daughter and I watched over his shoulder. My daughter got restless after he hit 65 million points and we moved on to pretending to play driving games. While hopping from one Initial D bucket seat to another I spied the DDR action.

The DDR clique were a group of high schoolers who I guess dressed either gothy or skater street kid with Gameskins shirts. One of the wiry and sweaty boys would play while his friends lounged on the floor behind him, joking and looking at a laptop.

A single player chaotically tapped his way through the most difficult In the Groove screen I've ever seen. His feet were working the pads in milliseconds and he held on to the handrail behind his back. So, the handrail allows you to relieve your feet of your weight so they can move like an accountants fingers over a keyboard's right hand number keypad.

I was amazed. This kid was hitting every arrow point with extra taps during holds and combo strings reaching 700. Musically, take the fastest techno song you know and imagine dancing to it, stepping to every sixteenth note.

My daughter dragged me over to the baby cars and rocket ships that vibrate after you feed them quarters. I just rock the thing myself, she had just as much fun. I lost my view of the In the Groove dancers.

Once we wandered back to that section of the arcade, the same kid had another multi-hundred combo going when suddenly he lost it. He stepped off the dance pad and told his friend, "You're right the pad is broken." He then unplugged the machine to reset it. Guess they're regulars and the FYE managers had no problem with them messing with the equipment. These kids are so good they could run diagnostics on the hardware with their feet.

YouTube video of some kids dancing that approximates what I saw below.

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