We’ve been looking at Lou Bega all wrong. For decades, the “Mambo No. 5" singer has lived in our cultural memory as a figure of fun—a guy who just loves to dance, name women’s names, and wear old-timey clothes. As a virtual escape room ominously named Chamber No.5 makes clear, we were wrong. Bega has, in fact, been hiding a terrifying, Jigsaw-esque secret identity just beneath the false exterior of his pleasant, thinly mustachioed smile.
The escape room, which was created by Jimmy Chang and inspired by a Famicase Exhibition entry from Jordan Persson, forces players into the role of the subject of Bega’s latest sick human experiment. It takes place in a nearly featureless room and begins only after you “take one step left” and “one step right.” “Mambo No.5" filters in and the back wall of the room, scrawled with the names of the women from Bega’s song and “YOU” in giant letters, begins to inch forward. A computer terminal and a pair of outstretched statue hands promise escape only for those players able to determine the solution to Bega’s homicidal puzzle.
If they fail—which is likely if it’s been a while since you’ve been able to recite the lyrics to “Mambo No. 5" from memory—the song grows frantic, “You can’t run, you can’t hide” repeating faster and faster as the wall eventually closes in. “A little bit of you,” the screen says as it clamps shut. The trumpets and record scratches recede, replaced by the sound of breaking bones that crack like kindling in a fire.
Forget petty complaints about how annoying “Mambo No. 5" may be, the song’s true evil was hidden in plain sight all along, hinted at in Bega’s demands and the haunting promise to every listener that, one day, “You and me gonna touch the sky.”
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