It began with bodies splayed out in a downtown parking lot, the crowd around them hushed in anticipation.
Then, to the iconic beat of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” they rose.
About 100 “zombies” were resurrected outside Southside Johnny’s on Saturday evening as part of “Thrill the World,” a potentially record-setting dance event involving 400 simultaneous performances of “Thriller” in 42 countries.
Last year’s Thrill the World captured a Guinness World Record title with 4,179 participants in 10 countries but didn’t include a local performance.
This year’s dance was expected to exceed those numbers because of Jackson’s unexpected death, at 50, on June 25.
The jury was still out Saturday night whether the dance is destined for the record books. But the night certainly thrilled a boisterous crowd outside the South Tejon Street hot spot.
Spectators began arriving two hours early to watch a diverse group of volunteers learn moves from the 1983 music video for the title track and 7th single from Jackson’s chartbusting “Thriller” album.
The crowd cheered and applauded as the dancing zombies lurched and staggered through a surprisingly cohesive 6:30 p.m. performance, held at roughly the same time as similar performances in Malaysia, Argentina, China and Scotland, among other countries.
It was a fitting tribute to a pop pioneer, said Lou Moya, of Colorado Springs, who stayed for more than an hour and nodded in time to the music, clearly conflicted about being a mere spectator.
“I got a bad back, I can’t. Otherwise, I’d be there,” he said as family members shouted out requests to see him Moonwalk.
The free event was hosted by the Peaks and Pasties burlesque troupe, which also choreographed the dance. The group said it will host a video of the dancers at its Web site, http://lolaspitfire.com.
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