Fifth and a half? WTF? First, how about a little party history...
The Ho's Party - February 17, 2001
12 in attendance
The very first of these parties was way back in 2001. I had been playing DDR regularly for a month or two. I had played a little bit prior to this time, but at that point I was playing regularly and enjoying my first circle of DDR friends. Heck, even Lissa was actually playing back then! :)
Those were the early DDR USA days. Most of us didn't know much beyond its 26 songs. But there were a few in the group back then that knew how much more there already was coming out of Japan vs. what was available in the US. In addition, one of the group had built his own wood/metal stage long before home metal stages were as common as they are now. Heck, at that point, it was still a bit of a challenge just to find a soft pad stateside.
We all decided it would be fun to get together outside of GameWorks Studio and play some of the other DDR games that people had imported. As one of the few people in the group that could easily provide such a place, I volunteered to host such a gathering. I threw out some dates...the next few Saturdays. Of the options, the most people were going to be able to make it on one particular Saturday, February 17.
That date was my 26th birthday, and I threw it out as a possible date knowing that. I wasn't planning anything else in particular, so I figured "why not?" I didn't mention that it was my birthday until people arrived at the house. This was a DDR party. The fact it was my birthday was coincidental. And ironically, this is the only one of these parties to fall on my actual birthday.
'Twas a fun little house party and we all enjoyed the variety of games--and more importantly--the social experience that would keep me interested in this game and this group for so many years to come.
Brian's Birthday Boogie 2002 - February 16, 2002
13 in attendance
The next year, DDR in Indy had grown quite a bit and there were a lot of new faces along with several of the people who had been around the year before. Some people asked if I'd be hosting another party. After the fun of the last year's, I once again figured "why not?"
That year I actually sent out specific invitations to try and keep the number of people at a reasonable level for my relatively small house. I didn't think I could accomodate everyone if I just had an open invitation to the whole group again. So I invited the people I knew the best and saw the most often.
I actually gave it a birthday theme of sorts. It was pretty downplayed except for the name, but some people brought me cards. Once again, the focus was the games and getting the group together. We got to see some other Bemani titles besides DDR that year, so once again it was a discovery for most of us just as all the Japanese DDR games had been the year before.
3B03 - Brian's Bemani Birthday '03 - February 15, 2003
12 in attendance (11 in the group pic)
The third year for the party was the first year in our new house. We had been looking for a house with a basement specifically to have room to entertain guests and get fun stuff like a pool table...oh yeah, and a DDR machine!
At this point the party had become a tradition, so I knew I was going to do it again that year. I got clever with the name that year including a goofy acronym. I worked to get a machine prior to the party and decided to keep it a secret and use the party as an unveiling. It was a pretty hard secret to keep for a couple weeks!
Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate with us at all that year. Out of a pretty large invitation list, only 11 people were in attendance (including me and Lissa) due to snow and ice storms making it too trecherous outside for most people to want to travel.
EDIT: I just looked and realized that thenarus isn't in the group picture. I believe he had gotten off work late and wasn't going to come, but Josh called and "strongly encouraged" him to without revealing the surprise. But I guess he didn't make it in time for the group pic and makes the total for this gathering 12.
The machine still made for a fun surprise and some of the reactions people had were pretty classic. Those that made it had fun.
3B03.1 - March 8, 2003
~30 in attendance (27 in the group pic)
Here's where that half comes in. Since so many people couldn't make it to 3B03, I decided to schedule a make-up date to try again with 3B03.1 (and gave myself a pat on the back for additional cleverocity with the name). This was where I was really starting to see a mixing of the various groups of DDR people I had met over the years and the first time that not everyone who was there made it into the group picture. (EDIT: I guess I was wrong on that. See above.) Some people brought some games. For the most part we all at least knew about most other Bemani titles, but this offered what was a rare opportunity for some of us to actually play them. Plus there were a few non-Bemani games ciruculating as well.
Brian's Bemani Birthday 4th Mix - February 21, 2004
~35 in attendance (30 in the group pic)
Add some more faces to the mix as the newest group of people I had met joined the fray. The birthday theme really seemed to come out in '04 with people bringing cake, cookies, and other goodies. A lot of people also brought me gifts, which was a pleasant surprise.
I had begun to amass quite a Bemani collection of my own at this point, so I requested some extra A/V equipment to play them on. I don't remember if anyone bothered to bring other games. There was enough variety already available that it wasn't really necessary. Meanwhile upstairs, Karaoke Revolution made for a great party game and lots of people joined in.
Finally, that brings me up to this year's party...
Brian's Bemani Birthday 5th Mix: Style of 2005 - February 19, 2005
~44 in attendance (33 in the group pic)
As seems to be the trend over the past five years I've been doing this party, this year's party set all new records for size and length. The first people arrived actually before the start time of 5pm (we had arranged to meet a little early). A group from Ft. Wayne arrived around 5:30 and we had a good party group going by 6. People kept arriving periodically throughout most of the night. I think we reached our peak at about 9 when the traditional group picture (above) was taken prior to the first guests leaving. The party continued on into the night and the next morning before the final people left...shortly after 5:30am! That's right, 12+ hours! Just wild. I wasn't even horribly tired, although I did have to switch from contacts to glasses at some point.
I count 33 heads in that picture, plus Lissa, Heath, and myself who I know were there but not in that particular picture would make a total of at least 36 who had been to the party at that point. I went through the pictures from the rest of the night and counted at least 8 more people that arrived later and weren't in the group pic either. That brings the total up to at least 44!
I can fairly easily categorize the majority of those people into about four major groups that I've met through DDR over the years. There's the original GameWorks Studio people that I played with in 2001. Then there's the Block Party people from late 2001 thru spring 2002. Next come people from The Wash which covered the rest of 2002 and about half of 2003. Then finally there's the Westside crew from late 2003 and the first half of last year.
There are a few people that have been through two or more of those eras with me...and a few people that I've kinda met randomly along the way. But it's really cool to see so many of these people that I've met through this game all together in one place. It's nice to see that everyone seemed to get along with each other, too. I saw a lot of intermingling of the various groups of people that may not have met otherwise. I think it was also good for everyone to get together anyway--both within each of the groups and otherwise. We all don't seem to get together as often as we used to. I got that comment a lot over the course of the night...that people were enjoying seeing people they hadn't seen in ages.
The only problem I had was the same thing that I've had the past couple years. There's just so many people there that I don't get a chance to sit down and talk to each one for very long. Occasionally, someone even comes up to me to tell me they're leaving and I realize that I hardly talked to them at all. I think that's the only real downside to having such a big group.
Otherwise, I really couldn't ask for a better group of people to party with. It's great to see a bunch of friends cut loose and have fun without the drunken stupidness and destructiveness that I have a tendency to see at other big parties I've gone to. It's refreshing to see there's other people like me that can--and maybe even prefer--to have fun without all that overhead.
I also really appreciate that the house didn't get trashed. In fact, I understand that drewsifer and juwi_bean and perhaps some others helped pickup before they left. In all, I think I only spent like half an hour on Sunday collecting garbage and sweeping up a bit. Given the sheer number of people there, that's nothing short of a small miracle.
Anyway, refer to likeablerodent's video for some more highlights of the party. I'll be getting the photos I took posted on IndyDDR sometime soon. Also, if anyone of you out there reading this has some you took, I'd love to get a look at those, too!
I finally got to bed about 10 minutes till 6am. I only ended up sleeping until about 9 or 9:30 and went through most of Sunday in a bit of a somber zombie mode until I crashed in the early evening. Then I watched some movies with Lissa and went to bed at a normal hour and had a pretty normal Monday, so apparently no ill-effects.
Thanks to everyone who came and made it a night (and morning) to remember!