Dead Can Dance

Twenty-five years after the King of Pop released his masterpiece, a zombie mob is keeping the music video undead.

By Matthew Halverson December 18, 2008 Published in the October 2008 issue of Seattle Met

The only thing more unsettling than the reality check that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video turns 25 this year might be the revelation that obsessive fans of that 13-minute opus of reanimated-corpse crotch grabbing are shuffling around Seattle unnoticed, preparing to reenact the video’s zombie shimmy in public. And there are groups just like it around the country, all planning to dance at the same time (October 25, 11am PST). It’s partly an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous “Thriller” dance, but mainly an excuse to celebrate the video’s refusal to, uh, die.

Redmond resident Susan James assembled the Seattle contingent in August and is prepping them for the public display of resurrection—despite not really knowing the choreography. “For a long time, I’ve just wanted to learn that dance, and I can’t believe I’ve let 25 years go by,” she says. “And then when I found out that it was the anniversary of the video, I was like, ‘We’re done talking about this.’”

This is the second so-called Thrill the World event; last year, more than 1,700 wannabe walking corpses in 52 cities turned out, including 82 who dressed the part and put on a show in Westlake Plaza. (Kind of fitting, since most of the plaza’s loiterers look like extras from the video.) James is hoping for an even better turnout this year—most likely in the same spot—but that could be just the beginning. “Maybe every couple months we could just show up somewhere and do the dance, guerrilla-style, and then leave or go drink,” she says. Will this thing ever die?

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