In an interesting turn of events, Chicago is about to be host to Ubisoft’s first attempt at games as live concert experiences. Next weekend, Navy Pier will become a whole new neon world for Just Dance Live –the interactive, immersive, concert-but-not experience branded for the popular dance game series.
Dance games have been a thing for a long time now. It started, at least for me, with Dance Dance Revolution back in 1998. I was a kid who’d been enamored of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s Power Pad and the potential to translate actual actions into my video game experience. When people started talking about Dance Dance Revolution, I was super psyched. I got another Power-Padesque device and danced my heart out at home and even at the arcades in movie theaters with my friends. With the introduction of actual motion controls, dance games could get even better, and the Just Dance series emerged. Now, instead of learning how to stomp rhythmically in complex patterns, you could actually learn and reproduce dance moves. Exciting stuff if you, like me, had a secret self that just wanted to dance, or if you wanted to feel like an ass in front of your friends (which is sometimes a good time.)
Just Dance has been around in various forms for nine years now, with a new edition inevitably appearing annually. It’s been a very popular franchise for Ubisoft, and they’re capitalizing on this popularity with a “tour” of a live show that’s appropriately named “Just Dance Live” which will be headed to our fair city this weekend. This tour has only four stops in the US, and Chicago is one of them.
Next weekend, Just Dance Live hits the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, with shows every night from Thursday to Sunday, and VIP experiences offered for the true devotees. It’s not just a show though, or a simple concert experience. It’s meant to be immersive entertainment, where attendees feel like they’re really IN the game world of Just Dance, with huge set pieces and all sorts of colorful environments. Some of the characters you’ll find in the game will be brought to life and placed on stages that surround the audience to dance, but people won’t simply be looking at them. There will be multiple stations where people familiar with the game and even avid players can compete or just learn some moves, and everyone watching the main stages will be encouraged to join in and dance.
While the creators of the show seem earnest in their mission to bring the world to life and create an amazing experience, they’ve also got their tongue firmly planted in their cheeks, and the silliness isn’t lost on them. Just Dance Live looks to be a very J-Pop inspired world of neon, glitter and dancing animals, and will feature multiple set pieces as well as a special “Get Ready” room where, if you’re really in the spirit, you can add that last touch of glitter or neon. MAC Cosmetics is a tour partner, so there’s some wild and interesting makeup involved in the show, too. It’s all crazy concepts, crazy costumes and tons of color, and it invites game enthusiasts as well as the uninitiated to join in and dance.
You may have read this and rolled your eyes, but some of the best experiences in social gaming come when you let your guard down, whether that’s a rousing rendition of “Hungry Like the Wolf” in Rock Band or a sweaty, uncoordinated attempt to work it the way Beyonce does in “Single Ladies.” And you won’t be alone in your efforts to “just dance.” There’ll be hundreds of us flailing around with you–and likely, if we can put our egos aside, having a pretty fun time in spite of themselves.
Just Dance Live will be at the Aon Ballroom at Navy Pier from March 15-18. Tickets range in price from $20 opening night specials to $49 with Family and Friends packs and VIP experiences available. VIP experiences include priority entrance, merchandise, in-game rewards and a cast meet & greet and will run you $95-99.