Zombie dancers shuffle, step to ‘Thriller’ for record attempt
October 25, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
The undead shuffle across TV and cinema screens. Zombies chomp across bestseller lists. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created a droll guide to surviving a zombie apocalypse.
The zombie zeitgeist is ceaseless. Just like a horde of the undead on a mindless search for brains.
The pop culture phenomenon reaches Issaquah on Oct. 29 as revelers dressed as the undead shuffle downtown and in the Issaquah Highlands just before Halloween.
The most able-bodied zombies plan to inch to the Green Halloween Festival and the Issaquah Library to duplicate the complicated choreography from the 1983 Michael Jackson epic, “Thriller” — a 14-minute MTV masterpiece from “An American Werewolf in London” director John Landis.
Zombies plan to re-create “Thriller” at 2 p.m. for festivalgoers and at 4 p.m. at the downtown library. Then, zombies around the globe plan to gather for Thrill the World, a simultaneous attempt to dance to “Thriller” and set a world record. In Issaquah, 6 p.m. is the designated hour for the Thrill the World attempt.
Zumba instructor Cindy Klenk acted as a zombie coach to about 40 people at Blakely Hall on a gloomy morning Oct. 22, as amateur dancers attempted to learn the “Thriller” steps. Though the highlands horde intends to use a streamlined adaptation, zombies still shuffled a beat or a step behind during rehearsal.
If you go
Green Halloween Festival
Issaquah Zombie Walk
“We’re zombies,” Klenk said. “We don’t have any brains.”
The highlands horde started rehearsals in mid-September. Organizers expect other undead people to join in the “Thriller” dance-offs at the festival.
“Once you know the moves, that’s one thing,” zombie-to-be Fiona Astor said. “Then, you learn the sequence and that’s another thing.”
Klenk led the crew through “The Time Warp” from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” as warm-up exercise, although just a jump to the left and then a step to the right turned out to be simpler than the tough “Thriller” steps.
“All of that is going to go from your mind into your muscles,” she told participants. “Then, you’re free to be zombies.”
Night creatures calling
Inside Blakely Hall, Klenk started the music for “Thriller” and, rather than the King of Pop, a cool female voice intoned instructions for dancers. The horde rose from the grave, oops, floor as Klenk repeated instructions for the choreography.
“My hope is that they’re not going to go right when we go left,” she said.
Klenk suggested the “Thriller” idea to Christy Garrard, Highlands Council special events planner. Garrard said “Thriller” made sense as the Green Halloween Festival adds activities to appeal to people in more age groups.
“She pitched the idea to me and we thought it was just a terrific fit for the greater community,” she said.
Organizers urged zombies to create costumes and makeup similar to the 2004 farce “Shaun of the Dead” rather than “Zombieland” — a gorier zombie film released in 2009. (Astor plans to come to the festival as a deceased dog walker.)
The highlands horde “should be a great mix of adults and students,” Garrard said. “I hope it’s going to be really successful.”
Students from Issaquah High School joined middle-aged parents and some children — pint-sized zombies on the rise — for the most recent rehearsal.
Garrard, a high school student in 1983, recalled the hubbub about Jackson’s special-effects-laden “Thriller” clip.
“I remember the buzz around this feature-length music video,” she said. “MTV was all the rage at the time. I mean, everybody stayed home and watched MTV.”
Annique Bennett, DownTown Issaquah Association executive director, said the downtown horde mapped a route to shuffle along Front Street North from the historic Hailstone Feed Store to the Issaquah Library.
Zombies roamed downtown Issaquah last autumn, too, after a DownTown Issaquah Association board member joined some friends to form a horde.
“We hope people won’t be shy and that they will come with whatever zombies outfits they have,” Bennett said. “Just come and be part of it, and we’ll see where it goes.”
Citizens need not fear the zombie horde trundling along downtown sidewalks. The undead plan to nibble on Poultrygeist Pizza from Extreme Pizza — rather than brains.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.