The internet is, among other things, a replacement for the outdated smoke break. We all need an occasional distraction from the daily grind, and live streams are particularly good at meeting this need. They feel present, important, and communal. It’s how a feed of bears catching fish or a slowly blooming Corpse Flower can turn into bona fide phenomena. This week’s best break is the World Yo-Yo Contest, streaming to us today through Saturday from the Renaissance Hotel in the lovely Cleveland, Ohio.
The World Yo-Yo Contest has been held annually since 1992. Its website claims that over 1,000 yo-yo "players" from more than 30 countries around the world have come this year to watch the best of the best compete across seven divisions.
"please try not to yo-yo around normal people, because it scares them."
Today is just the start; there are wildcard rounds and, as of writing this, a handful of yo-yoers are an hour into a yo-yo "slam," where everyone gets about 30 seconds to work through short performances set to techno and pop music (unlicensed, I’m guessing).
The first day has already provided some incredible yo-yoing, sure, but it’s the minutiae around the performances that have already made the live stream feel legendary. To wit: the competition’s host had to remind the crowd to "please try not to yo-yo around normal people, because it scares them," that they should "try not to block any exits," and that they should "pick up your yo-yo strings when you’re finished using them, we don’t live like a bunch of savages."
The rest of the week is full of championship events: there’s a freestyle competition, wildcard rounds, and of course, semi-finals and finals. You can see the full schedule here. I could keep going, because let me tell you, the competitive yo-yo rabbit hole runs deep. But I won’t, because you should experience this for yourself, and precious breaks from work only last so long.