NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The World Cup is not the only competition on the minds of some New Yorkers.

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, the U.S. Air Guitar Championship returned to New York for the northeast semifinals.

The competition began at about a 9 p.m. with loud music, a crowded club, and people pretending to play guitar.

Would-be world champions, including reigning national champion Matt Burn aka Aristotle, were hanging out backstage at the Bowery Ballroom, at 6 Delancey St. on the Lower East Side.

Aristotle was warming up with some “Hotel California” by the Eagles, while New Rochelle school teacher Shreddy Mercury explained his own unusual style.

“The double axe, both hands, I can go either way. This way or that way, or I do both sometimes at the same time,” he said.

The competitors don’t have actual guitars, but they do have costumes.

“My name is Nordic Thunder, so I have to stay true to Viking Themes,” Justin Howard said.

The repeat performers are competing for pure joy.

“It’s the most fun you can ever have. I love the people hanging out every year. It’s like band camp,” Marquina Iliev said.

Tuesday’s event was the regional championship, there is a national contest in Kansas City, and a world championship in Finland.

“I’m learning the guitar a little bit. I’m not that good at guitar, but I started learning to get better at air guitar,” Aristotle said.

Learning the real thing, to learn how to pretend better could be a winning technique at the regional competition.

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