The Undead Reach for the Gold and Thrill the World

On Saturday, October 29, at 7:00pm, while most students prepared for a monstrous night at Harwood Halloween, zombies rallied across the planet to dance for a good cause.  For the third consecutive year, the non-profit organization “Thrill The World” coordinated a worldwide, choreographed dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in an attempt to set a new record for the largest simultaneous dance. In 2009, 22,571 people from 33 different countries danced to the King of the Pop’s all-time hit, breaking the previous record – which had been set in 2006 by Canadian elementary-schoolers performing the hokey pokey.

The year 2011 marks the first time the Claremont Colleges took part in this challenge, under the initiative of Jenna Tico, a Scripps senior from Santa Barbara. Tico discovered Thrill The World at a dance class in her hometown and had been attracted to the charitable mission of the group. Each year the proceeds from the event go to a non-profit of the local coordinators’ choice. Jenna picked the non-profit Women For Women, an NGO dedicated to help women war survivors across the world to recover and rebuild their lives by providing them with job training and rights awareness workshops. Thanks to individual donations as well as the 57 dancers’ own contributions, Claremont’s Thrill The World generated $700 in just one night.

The performance was held at 7:00pm on Scripps’s Jaqua Quad and drew a large number of students as well as families from the community. Tico took on the multiple roles of public relations, fundraising manager, and dance instructor. “I started putting it in motion before thinking how difficult it would be,” she admitted. However, she gushed, “It was great to bring silliness and joy to the colleges!”

“It was a lot of work,” said Tico, remarking on the press releases, maintenance and technical support of the event itself. Seeking approval from the Scripps administration, she said, was particularly difficult.

In the end, the event almost threatened to fall apart. At five minutes to seven, their Internet connection failed, potentially causing major problems for coordinating their efforts. Even worse, half of the lights for the show had died already. But six minutes later, much to everyone’s relief, the video had made it to the internet, where it joined thousands of other Thriller enthusiasts in establishing a new world record once again.

And the best part of the project? In Tico’s words, “Seeing people who had never danced before, showing up and believing they could do it.” The success of the event drove many to volunteer for organizing it next year.  The date for the 2012 event has already been set, and video tutorials can be found online: It’s never too early to get in on the act for the next world record!