YouTube's dancing prisoners denied new licence to thrill
With nearly 11 million hits, it is one of YouTube's most watched videos: 1,500 orange-suited inmates, plus one pony-tailed prisoner in mules and a halter-top, in a Filipino prison doing a perfectly choreographed version of the dance sequence of Michael Jackson's Thriller video.
The video of the dancing inmates at Cebu Detention and Rehabilitation Centre was uploaded to YouTube in July by Byron Garcia, a security consultant for the Cebu provincial government and the brother of the province's governor, Gwendolyn Garcia.
Michael Jackson's role is played by Crisanto Niere, with Wenjiel Resane playing "the girl"; both are on drug-trafficking charges. Most of the inmates in the video are on remand awaiting trial for alleged crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking.
The inmates carefully emulate every move from the Michael Jackson hit, their shoulders jerking zombie-style, heads swaying in time, clapping and swirling in a truly awesome display. One that needed a bigger audience, Mr Garcia reckoned.
The next step was to see if the prisoners would be allowed to perform at Sinulog, a popular street-music festival scheduled in Cebu next Sunday, saying it would add "something new to the traditional Sinulog presentation".
But Cebu city's mayor, Tomas Osmena, remains unmoved by the funky zombie dancing of the inmates. "I will not allow it even if Michael Jackson joins them," Mr Osmena told the Philippine News Agency. "In jail, the inmates can dance all they want."
The nine-day fiesta is organised by the Catholic Augustinian order to honour the infant Jesus with a solemn religious procession followed by a raucous street-party. It also includes a beauty pageant and a trade fair.
The Philippines is one of the most musical countries in the world: people walk around the streets singing happily in the normal course of the day, and Filipino bands are famous for their skill in mimicking top tunes.
Mr Garcia introduced dancing in April 2006 as part of a new rehabilitation programme at the prison in this resort city. Inmates now rehearse for hours each day and have performed dance versions of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" as well as several Village People tracks. In the plan proposed to Mr Osmena, to make sure none of the Thriller stars made a break for freedom, the show would be performed at the city's sports complex, and just 100 prisoners would be dancing, with a guard assigned to each detainee.
Mr Garcia had hoped that, by allowing the inmates to be in Sinulog, the city could showcase the success of its rehabilitation programme. "By showing these highly disciplined inmates, perhaps we might just be giving hope that Cebu is not just about the mardi gras, but rather, Cebu is about leadership and good governance," he said.
The prisoners were expected to be tough competition at the festival for the Lumad Basakonon group, which has dominated the free interpretation category of Sinulog for two years.
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
- 3 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...