Thrill the World: Los Angeles

An undead gaggle of video-obsessed dancers are set to shimmy at Santa Monica Pier.

It isn't unusual to glance in the direction of any clock, every now and then, and wonder what time it is in New Zealand or Hong Kong or Bogotá.

What is rather rarer is to glance at that same clock and wonder if a flock of frightfully attired revelers in those same places are doing the "claws up" move that's synonymous with "Thriller," the record-breaking 1983 music video directed by John Landis and starring Michael Jackson.

But should you glance at the nearest time-keeper on Saturday, Oct. 29, that is the very question that might well cross your mind. For Oct. 29 is Thrill the World Day, an annual just-before-Halloween flash-mob-y happening that sees strangers come together to re-enact the famous video's iconic dance of the undead.

And, of course, there's one here in Southern California. Because we're not going to not have one here, because, please, we never say no to participating in a public performance.

Thrill the World: Los Angeles has been raising its claws high for several years at various locations around the city, but the 2016 location has a salty-air eerieness and carnival-esque cool: The zombies are shambling for Santa Monica Pier on Oct. 29.

A noontime meet-up, to practice and gather, is scheduled for the nearby Camera Obscura, while the moany, groany big show shakes its bony shoulders on the pier promptly at 3 o'clock.

Simultaneously (for simultaneousness seems to be key to this yearly around-the-planet spectacle), a dancer who appeared in the video will be teaching the monstrous moves on West Third Street.

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That's Kim Blank, one of the Original Ghouls of "Thriller" (and, disclosure, a friend to the writer). Ms. Blank leads a session every year in scary shimmying, with the precise techniques explained, then taught, on everything from the legendary "claws up" move to that air-guitar-y thing the video dancers enact about halfway through.

Nope, her classes aren't part of Thrill the World, but they are something special to Los Angeles.

The "Thriller" zombie will first share her wicked wisdom with her students at Swerve Studio on West Third on the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 29. If you dig the dastardly dancing, she's doing the whole class again on Sunday, Oct. 30 at Downtown Dance & Movement.

Yes, you absolutely can don some macabre make-up, but that isn't a requisite. Yes, you absolutely should perform all the kicks and dips you learn in class for your Halloween-obsessed friends, who will surely recognize each shimmy you undertake.

But signing up ahead of time for one or both is as important as an undead ghoul being able to emerge from his graveyard plot when the time arrives to dance.

And that time is nigh, here in Southern California, and around the globe, for both those who want to view a live "Thriller" performance and those who want to learn the steps from someone who was there, on that shadowy street south of downtown Los Angeles, over 30 years ago.

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