French village joins 'Thriller' zombie tribute to Michael Jackson

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The Independent Online

Villagers in a rural corner of western France gather around midnight Saturday to dress up as zombies for a globally staged tribute to Michael Jackson involving fans from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

"People are coming from all over the place," said Delphine Aldag, the 37-year-old who brought the Brittany village of Gourin into "Thrill The World 2009", a global celebration of the "King of Pop", who died this year at 50.

"Of course there are Michael Jackson fans but also people who just love to dance," she added.

Some 60 people aged from 11 to 73 have signed up so far to take part in the "Thriller" dance extravaganza in Gourin, joining fans as far off as Beijing, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Mexico and Sydney.

In keeping with the opening line of the 1982 hit, the event is to kick off just after midnight, at 0030 GMT.

"At 2:30 am we'll get a phone call from the organisers and start dancing," said Aldag.

But the village homage to the pop icon may turn out to have a decidedly local feel, with Breton musicians planning interpretations of Jackson hits played on the region's distinctive Gallic-style bagpipes, the "biniou".

The event has been held annually since 2006, growing from 62 dancers, which organisers say resulted in a Guinness World Record, to last year attracting 4,719 dancers in 10 countries. Its website lists 300 events this weekend.

"This year's Thrill The World aims to be an unprecedented global celebration of the life and music of Michael Jackson," said founder of the event Ines Markelle, a choreographer and dance instructor from Toronto, Canada.

It even has the seal of approval of Quincy Jones, producer of the multi-million selling "Thriller" album that features the song of the same name.

With well over 100 million copies sold, "Thriller" is generally agreed to be the best selling album of all time. The eponymous song, which features a celebrated spooky rap by kitsch US horror star Vincent Price, was written by British songwriter Rod Temperton.