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Record "Thriller" Dance Attempted at L.A. Live

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Sunday, October 25, 2009, at 02:38PM
IMGP6539 Ed Fuentes

Michael Jackson impersonator Michael Kiss greets Jackson fans at L.A. Live.

The funk of forty thousand years invaded Nokia Plaza L.A. Live Saturday as 6,000 Michael Jackson fans performed the dance from "Thriller."

One part pop star homage, one part film promotion, the downtown mass dance was a coordinated global attempt to break the world record for most people simultaneously dancing to the pop tune.

The crowd wore the latest in ghoul fashion and stretched from the stage at the north end of Nokia Plaza to Chick Hearn Court. Many rehearsed throughout the afternoon with "Thriller" playing on speakers while choreographers led everyone through steps, and latecomers were working to catch up with the official moves that differed slightly from the original video.

Eilen Corbin, 6, was ready. She first learned the dance from her mother, who saw Jackson in concert four times. Both daughter and mother prepared for the day by following the "Thrill the World" video instructions that were available online. "It's fun. I didn't know there were other people who know the dance," she said, then whispered, "I'm better then some of the grownups. Maybe 'cause I've been practicing longer."

A few dressed down, only wearing a token scarf, while others used the day to test run new Halloween costumes that had an element of the macabre.

Anthony Ridge, an college dance major, met up with dancers from San Diego who remained faithful to the zombie look from the original video. They brought friends from their respective theater departments to handle final touches on prosthetics that decayed their look, but could survive a hot afternoon on a crowded dance floor. "The song got me as a kid, and was one reason I took up dancing," says Ridge. "Besides, this is where Michael did his last performance. I had to be part of it."

It's now part of L.A. Live lore that Jackson's final rehearsal, and his memorial, were held at Staples Center. “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” is complied from rehearsal footage and will premiere at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on Tuesday, October 27th.

Before the countdown for the official dance came, kids from Inner City Arts had the honor to front the crowd, but happily made way for Michael Kiss, a Northridge resident who is a ringer for Jackson. "This is beautiful," said Kiss, looking and waving at the crowd after DJs had him jump on stage to say hello.

Why "Thriller" makes for Jackson pilgrimages like this may be answered in time by cultural anthropologists. Still, there's little doubt that the 1983 video put Jackson and MTV at the forefront of pop culture. It can also be said that youtube brought fans together when different recreations of the dance were uploaded, helping Thriller come back from the retro grave.

Event sponsor TapouT had dancers perform three time, twice to make it official, then one encore because no one was leaving.

There was no official word yet if the world record, set in Mexico on August 29th, was broken.


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