It’s a regular mid-afternoon in late October. Thousands of gray-faced, blood-stained zombies lay out on the ground at the Pomona Fairplex. They await their cue.
The announcer yells, “What time is it?”
The crowd shouts back, “Thriller Time!”
He repeats the question louder, “WHAT TIME IS IT?”
Finally, the moment arrives. The sound of a creaky door silences the crowd, followed by the howl of a werewolf. As soon as the music plays, the zombies rise up slowly, almost as though they are awakening from their graves. Families, friends and passers-by gaze in awe at the spectacle. Once the synthesized tune of the chorus starts, the huge mass of zombies is ready to dance.
After almost 30 years, Michael Jackson’s song “Thriller” remains iconic to this day. Almost as famous as the song is the zombie dance routine.
The dance routine gained so much popularity over the years that a record-breaking event has been developed to celebrate it. This event is called “Thrill the World.”
For the past three years, millions of people across the globe gather in certain cities and simultaneously imitate the “Thriller” dance. Beginning in 2006 as Thrill Toronto, with 62 people breaking the Guinness World Record for “Largest Thriller Dance” in Toronto. Started by dancer Ines Markeljevic, Thrill Toronto eventually developed into project Thrill the World.
In October 2007, Thrill the World was able to get 1,722 people from five different continents to simultaneously dance to the “Thriller,” breaking two world records.
Since then, Thrill the World has been held every year in late October, growing vastly in attendance every event. A Thrill the World event has taken place every year in Los Angeles, called “Thrill the World Los Angeles.” This year, it took place at the Pomona Fairplex, on Saturday, Oct. 23 at 4 p.m. Thousands of dancers arrived around noon, practicing the “Thriller” dance numerous times, perfecting it for the big moment. Before the event, dance studios all over Los Angeles County offered free lessons to dancers to learn “Thriller.”
Dancers had already begun applying their make-up and costumes hours in advance. Although dressing as a zombie was not required, many participants chose to do it for the fun of it. Many got very involved in their zombie appearance by using plenty of red lipstick or markers for blood, ripping up their clothes to shreds, applying vast amounts of hairspray to mess up their hair and even glue-on props, such as plastic spiders, cobwebs and insects to their costumes. The event provided volunteer make-up artists to help turn dancers into zombies.
Dressing up and dancing were not the only fun activities to do at “Thrill the World Los Angeles.” The event provided live entertainment by DJ Cameron and James Andre Jefferson, Jr. from KIIS FM, raffles, food, games and performances by Omar Rajpute, also known as the Prince of Pop. Phillip Dang, a Michael Jackson-style dancer and Michael Kiss, a well-known Michael Jackson impersonator, made appearances as well. The event also offered discount tickets to Pomona Fairplex’s Nightmare at Scareview Farms, a monster maze attraction.
Although Thrill the World Los Angeles is free, the record-breaking dance also acts as charity. Thrill the World Los Angeles is a charity partner of the non-profit organization Make a Better World Foundation 501. This year, participants made donations to the Learning Centers at Fairplex, educational programs that better the community. Thrill the World Los Angeles has also provided for other charities in the past, including Inner-City Arts in 2009 and joining the AIDS walk this year on Oct. 17.
Thrill the World Los Angeles sponsors other stunts other than the main world-record breaking. The next event coming up will be on Halloween night. Thrill the World Los Angeles is setting up a flash mob in Hollywood known as Halloween Thriller Flash Mob. They request that dancers know the Thriller very well since the dance will be performed four times. They also must dress in zombie garb and make-up. The event is free and will begin at 7 p.m. and end at 11 p.m. Anyone who would like to attend must sign up online because space is limited.
Thrill The World was an exciting chance to get out, dress up like the living dead and dance like the King of Pop.
The games are fun both to be part of and to watch, and the performances are enjoyable, but the best part is the actual dance itself. Being part of a huge crowd of zombies and dancing is quite liberating, especially when acting like a zombie while performing.
If you love to dance, dress up and will be near the Los Angeles area next October, attend Thrill the World Los Angeles. It will be an exciting experience you will not soon forget.