Dancers make a ‘Thriller’ effort

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Dancers make a ‘Thriller’ effort
Dancers gathered in Irvine on Saturday to try to set a world record. They danced to “Thriller” by Michael Jackson.

Sunday, October 28, 2007
By RICHARD CHANG | The Orange County Register

Pop singer Michael Jackson released the song and album “Thriller” in 1982. Both became huge hits. The 1983 video for the “Thriller” single, directed by John Landis, was 14 minutes long and included a memorable dance with zombies backing a transformed Jackson, who looked like a werewolf and a zombie.

Christopher Clark wore a gray zombie outfit that “exposed” his ribs, heart and intestines. He donned bloody gloves and white face paint as fake peeling skin hung from his throat.

Was this a freaky Halloween costume? No, the Huntington Beach resident was sporting his ghoulish finest on Saturday to dance to Michael Jackson’s 1982 pop smash “Thriller” – along with hundreds of other hoofers throughout the world.

More than 40 dancers at Atomic Ballroom in Irvine sought to help set a world record on Saturday, re-enacting the famous dancing zombie routine in the “Thriller” video that helped make Jackson an international superstar. Dancers in 80 different cities in 17 countries lunged, grunted, writhed and shook their claws in the air – all simultaneously, at 3 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

“I’ve never done any kind of choreographed dance like this, and it’s so much fun,” said Clark, a graphic designer and artist. “I dig that it’s a global, international event. I think it’s really cool that everybody all over the world can get together and do something totally crazy like this. And nobody’s killing anybody.”

The Irvine “Thrill the World” event was organized by Irvine resident Tom Nguyen and dance instructor Jeremy Heckman. They arranged rehearsals and the main show in only two weeks, after hearing that a Toronto, Canada, dance instructor was gunning for the world record for “Largest Simultaneous Thriller Dance.”

Ines Markeljevic, who last year earned the Guinness World Record title for “Largest Thriller Dance,” spread the word through her Web site and through MySpace and YouTube. While Guinness does not have a category for a specific simultaneous dance conducted in multiple locations, Markeljevic received approval of the attempt from the Record Holders Republic Registry of Official World Records. The group is not affiliated with the Guinness organization.

In Irvine, dancers ranged from teens to women in their late 50s. One woman performed “Thriller” with her 4 ½-month daughter strapped to her waist.

“This is more fun than ballet,” said Valerie Cardinal, 57, of Huntington Beach, who wore a lime-green wig and scary makeup. “It’s life affirming, even though it’s about death.”

Jerry Jordan, 32, owner of Atomic Ballroom, said: “It’s wacky and zany and you have to be a certain kind of person to get excited about this. I remember when it came out on MTV, it was a big deal and really fun. Back then, it was wholesome and fun and it’s cool to remember that stuff. And the choreography is just awesome.”

During the event, organizers collected donations for the American Red Cross to go toward Southern California’s recent wildfire victims.

One of those victims, Kim Deans of Running Springs, participated in “Thrill the World” in Irvine. She was evacuated from her home on Monday morning and hasn’t been allowed back.

“It’s a break – a physical and mental break,” said Deans, 26. “It was either this or Disneyland.”

The number of total participants will be tallied over the next few days and posted on


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