Worldwide Thriller

Before he was dangling his children over balconies, before his chimp named Bubbles, even before he was white, Michael Jackson was doing choreographed dances while dressed like a zombie.

Before he was dangling his children over balconies, before his chimp named Bubbles, even before he was white, Michael Jackson was doing choreographed dances while dressed like a zombie.

Michael Jackson has never been normal.

But he did at one time make very good music. And it is in this, the spirit of the extraordinary and the weird, that people all over the world are joining together on Oct. 27 to recreate the moves of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

According to their website, the aptly named Thrill of the World is an attempt to break the world record for the “Largest Simultaneous Dance.” At the time of publication, Thrill of the World events have been planned in 125 cities and 18 countries, with more likely to develop as the big day of dance approaches. On that day, Michael Jackson fans will simultaneously let out their inner zombie under the close observation of a Guinness Book of World Records judge.

And thanks to the work of dance and zombie enthusiasts Alan Silver and Kate Blackmore, Portlanders will also be able to participate. Silver, the self-proclaimed logistics coordinator, was turned on to the idea of holding his own PDX Thrill of the World after seeing a video of last year’s much smaller event held in Toronto. The original Thrill of the World had only a few dozen participants. This year, there is not yet an exact number of projected participants, though the event plans to be much, much larger.

Silver had first been exposed to Thriller as a preteen. While he is not a diehard fan of the king of pop, he said he has “always been attracted to the ephemeral art that involves the public,” and to him, the idea of hundreds of Portlanders dancing around like the dead perfectly fits the bill–so he jumped on the idea.

Silver has some experience with dance but is by no means a professional, nor is Blackmore. So while the big event isn’t until late October, Silver insists that people should learn the dance beforehand. While there will be a training practicum the hour before show time, Silver says they don’t have the ability to train a very large group at once.

Not to worry though: you can learn the moves at one of the workshops that will be held throughout the next month. The first workshop will take place Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at 4223 N.E. 7th Ave. It will be held in one of the dancer’s backyard, so dress accordingly. Other training workshops are still in the works, but will be posted on as they are planned. If you are unable to attend training, Silver suggests checking out to watch an easy-to-follow instructional video and written breakdown of the dance.

Silver and Blackmore’s PDX Thrill of the World will be held at 3 p.m. on the Sept. 27 at Holocene (1001 S.E. Morrison St.) The venue is 21 and older, but Silver said he welcomes the idea of another Portland Thrill of the World being held at an all-ages venue. And while he is unable to take on planning a second event, he has said that anyone interested should contact him.

During the event at Holocene, donations will also be taken for the Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center. After-dance socializing will continue until around 6 p.m.

So get ready, undead Portland! Grab your rotted dancing feet and your maggot-infested dancing shoes, because coming this October is time to boogie down like only zombies–and Michael Jackson-can.

For more information on PDX Thrill of the World, visit To speak with the coordinators for more information on volunteering to put up fliers, holding an instructional dance class, to RSVP for a training workshop or to plan your own thrill of the world event, contact Silver and Blackmore via e-mail at [email protected].