Bemanistyle is a website that deals with rhythm video games, especially those in Konami's Bemani series. It covers the games Dance Dance Revolution, Beatmania, Pop'n Music, Guitar Freaks, DrumMania, Karaoke Revolution, In the Groove, Neon FM: Dance Radio, Pump It Up, Guitar Hero, O2Jam, and others. It also covers simulations for some of the games, such as hosting user-created simfiles (songs and steps) for StepMania, a computer simulation of Dance Dance Revolution.
The creation of bemanistyle.com
In mid 2000 Eddie Lehecka and Malcolm Cuffie met while attending Otakon in Baltimore, MD. They were both friends of Lynn Brown who was the webmaster of Bust A Move Global and Style Of Your Love, the largest dedicated sites for Bust A Move/Groove and pop'n music at the time. Being part of the (at that time) near nonexistant pop'n music fanbase in America, the two got to talking quite frequently online. Over the course of the next 6 months or so they covered several location tests and game releases together, often helping each other out with their respective websites (Malcolm being staff at TeamGwailo and Eddie the owner of drop0ut.com).
Jump forward to 2001. Eddie contacts Mike Ngo, one of the founding members of DDRSpot (A Northern California based website). Eddie and Mike started to talk about their respective sites, often helping each other out with different projects and news posts. Mike introduced Eddie to other members of the DDRSpot staff, and they formed a relatively close working relationship. Over the course of a few months Eddie started to combine the 3 sites into a network of sorts, getting the webmasters of ddrspot and tgl in contact with each other and often cross posting information
on his own site. The 3 sites functioned together perfectly, each having their own specialties in terms of coverage.
After several months of the 3 sites working hand in hand, Eddie and Malcolm started talking to Mike and TGL owner Katy about creating a unified network of some type. After a lot of talking and brainstorming the idea of one massive website was suggested, and universally liked for the most part, until the subject of the name came up. Malcolm and Eddie suggested that all 3 sites drop their names, and that the new site be completely done from scratch. Mike and Katy weren't so optimistic about that idea and talks stopped quite abruptly. Regardless Eddie ditched drop0ut.com, and Malcolm left teamgwailo, the 2 of them determined to start a much better project. After several brainstorming sessions involving Malcolm, Eddie, Patty Chan (founder of ParaParaStage), and Arnell Damasco (longtime music game fan and close friend of Eddie's), the name bemanistyle was picked as the final title for the site and registered on May 2nd, 2002.
Before all of that happened Eddie had been introduced to Keith Slater through mutual friend David Praster, the both of them being prominent members of the St. Louis, MO DDR community. drop0ut.com had been experiencing server issues and after a bit of talking Keith offered to host the site as well as help maintain the forums, which had taken the jump from ezBoard to phpBB. The two didn't work together too often, both being caught up with their own projects. Keith continued to assist with hosting, minor coding and maintenance on the forums when the transition was made to bemanistyle. He wouldn't become a key figure in the development of the website until almost a year later.
bemanistyle.com 1.0 & iidxstyle.net
bemanistyle itself went online almost immediately. Eddie, Patty and Arnell had worked on the layout and basic content almost nonstop once the domain was registered. Unknown to them at the time Corey Prasek (Ver2) and Minh Pham (Moondabor) were getting ready to launch a site of their own. In fact Eddie and company had beaten Corey and Minh to registering bemanistyle.com by mere minutes, leaving the 2 to register bemanistyle.net and .org alongside iidxstyle.com and .net. At first it almost seemed as if there was something of a rivalry between the 2 sites. The focus was a bit different though, where iidxstyle was clearly geared solely at beatmania players, bemanistyle wanted to cover all music games.
After a bit of talking, the two sites joined up to a certain degree. Eddie started designing layouts for iidxstyle as well as handing data and moderating on the site, and Malcolm covered IIDX news there as well. All information was cross posted, and media was universally shared. After about 4 months of operating like this, Corey, Minh, Eddie and Malcolm all decided it was counterproductive to have two websites. iidxstyle.net closed on August 20th, 2002 and merged with bemanistyle.
bemanistyle.com 2.0 and the start of a recurring trend
No more than a month after the site launched, Eddie completely redid the layout to reflect on the upcoming release of pop'n music 8 AC and pop'n music 6 CS. The idea seemed to go off without a hitch, detailed articles on the upcoming releases were posted featuring song lists, features, screen shots, and of course media. Along with that Articles were started for other releases and made features for the period of their release. This is an aspect of the site that has since been almost lost with only a few titles receiving features since. At the time of this layout, Eddie and Malcolm were the sole staff for the site. Being split between work on bemanistyle and iidxstyle was quite daunting at the time but they managed.
Traffic was hit or miss. The most noteworthy thing the site had at the time was an mp3 set of the Mambo A GoGo GST. Something that had yet to be made available to the public. This was the start of a long running series of media releases and hosting for the site, something that would prove to drive growth in the future. Simfiles were also just starting to gain more notoriety with the release of Dance With Intensity, one of the first American developed simulators. At this time bemanistyle latched on and supported DWI exclusively as it's simulator of choice, releasing custom files almost weekly.
bemanistyle.com 3rd Stage
3 months after bemanistyle 2.0 launched, Eddie got creative urges again and started the whole site over from scratch with a new layout. This would happen several times over the course of the next year, and proved to be largely problematic due to everything being done in HTML. It didn't help that Eddie was extremely stubborn and refused to let anyone help with any of the databases as he felt they would end up being half-assed as a result.
This was the first layout to feature any kind of php features at all with a custom news script and a working (but limited) machine locations database. This was also the first layout in a short fling with frames based layouts. It seemed to work really well at the time as coding was near non-existant and having to update every page on the site weekly when a new simfile, link or song was changed was quite the hassle. Around this time VitaEX joined up with the website and made custom simfiles exclusively for bemanistyle on a regular basis. This was around the time that DDRManiax.net started up and featured custom files by Bemaniruler, so something of a rivalry was fostered between the two sites because of it.
Traffic started to grow a bit due to the hosting of official simfiles and the weekly originals picking up attention. Nothing terribly earth-shaking occurred during the life of this layout so it has been largely forgotten by even the administrative staff.
bemanistyle.com 4th ReMIX & bemanisims
Once again with the new layout thing. This time not too much was lost in the switch thanks to the relatively similar design it shared with the previous layout. During the life of this layout, the site gained the most users and quite possibly had the largest impact in the community. It was also the first time bemanistyle stood as the top news site in the community thanks to it's coverage of DDR Extreme. When Extreme rolled out media, simfiles, images and complete songlists were commonplace on the main page of the site, even with pop'n music 9's upcoming release. This period also marked the first time that the site's userbase broke 10,000 members.
Site development flourished at this time too, several new features were added and Game Information was being completed at a much faster rate than previous layouts. 4.0 is arguably still the most complete the site has ever been (although the current version is catching up quick). While site development prospered Keith started work on bemanisims.com, which he created solely so he didn't have to hunt around for simfiles anymore. Being the first of it's kind while stepmania started to get immensely popular, bemanisims didn't take long to catch on with the community. Thousands of files were uploaded before the end of the year.
The fourth layout also marked the first time that the site would get a revision before a whole new layout would be dropped. Titled bemanistyle 4.5 -Cyber Mind Fascination-, the heading navigation and overall aesthetic of the site was changed to be a bit more compact and easier to navigate. The header navigation is something that would stick with every future layout, whether it was used for affiliates or site navigation.