"Thriller" Time: Learn October's Unofficial Dance | NBC Southern California

"Thriller" Time: Learn October's Unofficial Dance

The undead-packed video gains new life, in Long Beach.

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    Thrill the World, an around-the-globe dance presentation of "Thriller," makes for the Queen Mary on Saturday, October 25. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

    You could round up a group of thesis-writing post-doctoral students, and summon the greatest minds of our time, and they'd still reach the same conclusion we all would, to a person, when asked this question: "When dancing the 'Thriller' dance, which move do people always, without exception, start with?"

    The answer: the claws.

    It's always the claws, in the air, first at one side of the head, then the other, but the funny thing, of course, is that the claws don't appear in the "Thriller" video, Michael Jackson's 1983 John Landis-directed, Vincent Price-narrated phenomenon, until deep into the dance of the undead.

    Which means this: People probably need to learn the dance, from scratch, rather than tapping into their memories of what turned out to be one of the most famous, if not the most famous, music videos of all time (if such things can be measured, and we're sure someone is working on that).

    Thrill the World LA is stop one. It's part of the global Thrill the World event, where zombies -- are they zombies, really, or traditional, fresh-from-the-grave undead? -- gather in spots around the planet to go claws up in one joyous, seasonal dance. There are typically rehearsals, and you can study past performances on line (hardcore Thrill-the-World-ers are prone to showing up at Staples Center and other local spots for flash mobs outside of October).

    Thrill the World LA 2014 goes down at the Queen Mary on Saturday, Oct. 25. It's free -- parking isn't -- and you can come down and watch the merry madness. Or get involved with the "Thriller" crew. They like to wear spooky make-up and zombie-esque duds, which is fun stuff in our workaday world.

    And Kim Blank, one of the original dancers from the video (and a ghoul who's a friend to this writer, disclaimer), also teaches a yearly one-time-only dance class that flaunts all the moves she learned from Michael Peters, the video's choreographer. Class size is limited, people do dress up, Swerve Studio is on West Third Street, and the moves?

    Well, they go way, way beyond the claws in the air, as you'll see if you sign up for the Sunday, Oct. 18 workshop. Prepare for disciplined and cheeky instruction from a professional dancer who was one of the few to shake it, undead-style, on-screen.

    "Thriller," after all, isn't just about the big scary eyes and shreddy clothing but about those jerky but precise movements, the low, menacing squats, and, yes, the occasional clawed hand.

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