From Canada to Argentina, Jackson fans shake to 'Thriller'

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The Independent Culture

Michael Jackson fans around the world wore zombie costumes and struck scary poses in a bid to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for the greatest number of people simultaneously dancing to his song "Thriller."

Some 230 people donated food or money to the food bank in this western Canadian city and danced to Jackson's song, which blasted out of loudspeakers Saturday as howls reverberated off surrounding high rises in a downtown Vancouver plaza.

Performers included children, teachers, and university students. They came dressed in body paint, blood-spattered wedding dresses, prison garb, and as ghouls.

"I love dancing, I love Michael Jackson and it was a perfect opportunity to do both and get into the Guinness Book of World Records," said elementary school teacher Heather Shantz, 26, who travelled half a day from a rural coastal community to take part in the event.

"I love dressing up in Halloween stuff," said Kristine Teichrob, an interior designer dressed as a dead member of the Blue Man Group.

"Five-four-three-two-one -- it's thriller time!" yelled local coordinator Graeme Lea, as Jackson's "Thriller" started with its trademark low growl, then blasted into the familiar song as a crowd of several hundred cheered.

The global event was ostensibly launched in Vancouver, but started at the same place around the world, according to a clock on a conference call by organizers. "When we take our first step people in China will take their first step," said Lea.

The local food bank collected more than 2,000 Canadian dollars from the event.

On Canada's East Coast, about 100 people danced in the streets on Montreal and talked enthusiastically about the late singer, who, despite career setbacks, remained one of the top-selling pop artists of all times.

"Michael Jackson remains our idol," said a man, who did not give his name. "He did so much for various charities, so we came here to pay our respects."

Although separated by thousands of miles, the celebrations in Vancouver and Montreal mirrored a similar event in a park in the Argentine capital where about 400 Michael Jackson fans shook to the beat of the 1982 hit.

Released more that a quarter-century ago, the album "Thriller" remains the best-selling album of all time, with estimated sales between 70-110 million copies worldwide.

The dance party in Buenos Aires brought together adults, teenagers and children, who were not even born when "Thriller" first hit the record stores.

"I'm here to pay tribute to the King of Pop," said 10-year-old Melissa Acosta, who danced in the park near a giant screen that displayed Michael Jackson's video.

"For my father, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson are the real kings. But personally I like Michael more."

Fans in more than 200 cities around the world were expected to take part in the celebration dedicated to the memory of the King of Pop.

Jackson died on June 25 at the age of 50 after taking a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs. The coroner's office in Los Angeles has ruled his death a homicide.

In France, some 60 people aged from 11 to 73 signed up to take part in the "Thriller" dance extravaganza in the western village of Gourin.