Thriller! Thriller Night

I was groovin’ to Michael Jackson this week. Not new creepy Michael Jackson; young, hip Michael Jackson. If you’ve ever seen the Thriller video – and if you haven’t, you’re either just emerging from a Unibomber shack in the woods or you’re 4 – look at one of the zombies dancing behind Michael. That was me!

Well, that was kind of me. I attended one of the instructional rehearsals for Thriller, a big event here in Lexington, where the entire Thriller video is reenacted in a huge parade on Main Street every October. The parade is awesome, with a red-leather jacketed Michael and an Ola, with her hair and shoulder pads all big and ‘80s, followed by a huge group of zombies who crawl up from gutters and from behind bushes and lurch their way onto Main Street and do the entire real Thriller dance!


The song is blasted through downtown, the audience is huge and you can barely find a spot along the parade route. My daughter and I went as spectators last year and got hooked.

This year, Mecca Dance Studio, which sponsors the annual event, has decided in addition to the public parade performance Oct. 28 to do another Thriller performance Oct. 27 to set a Guinness World Record  for something, I’m not sure what.

So I decided this year I would learn the dance. I haven’t decided if I’m going to be a dancing zombie or not. I guess it depends on whether I can find that vial of fake blood in the Halloween costume bin and whether I can learn these dance steps.

With only one rehearsal under my belt, it doesn’t look good.

I haven’t been in a dance class since my failed attempt at ballroom dancing with my husband four years ago. He kept missing the class, claiming to have “yard work” to do and when I went by myself I had to partner up with Mimi, the female half of the dance-teaching duo. It was embarrassing, so I quit. Went home and did yard work.

Prior to that, I was a Doris Furney Dancer in Hubbard in elementary school. I took baton and jazz, got to wear a sparkly costume, fishnets and blush at the recital, and learned 90 different ways to combine shuffle-step, step-together-step and step-ball-change.

To be honest, I wasn’t very good at dancing then, so trying to pick it up at my age is very, very risky. I may have been the oldest person in the dance studio at this practice. And the dance is much harder than it looks. I was so far beyond step-ball-change, my head was spinning. No, I mean, my head was actually spinning in a zombie-like, broken-neck movement in Part III. But unfortunately my zombie head-spin was about a second after everyone else’s. Same with the stomping, stiff-legged cha-cha, clapping high in the air, pelvic thrusts and reach-and-kicks. I purposefully stayed in the very back so I could watch the people in front of me and so that my view of myself in the giant mirror was blocked (I couldn’t face what I must’ve looked like). But then about a third of the way through the dance, we make a 90-degree turn and we’re all facing the back of the room and I’m in front. Thank God there isn’t a mirror back there.

I vow to practice this at home with the written instructions they gave me. It’s four pages of this type of thing: 

8 counts

shake D  shake U  shake D   shake U   snap R   snap L   snap R   snap L
1             2             3              4              5            6            7            8

swish feet L to R on ball of foot, gradually lean to R 

repeat last snap section, pivot to front over L shoulder on 5

* hands move to shwings

Oh, okay, now I’ve got it.

It would be easier to just die for real and come to the parade as an actual zombie.

If you go to the parade and you see a bloody corpse in the very back, dancing one beat behind everyone else’s moves, that will be me. If I’m in step with everyone else, I’m already dead.