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City Lights: One moonwalking step for a man

September 19, 2012|By Michael Miller
  • Huntington Beach Independent City Editor Michael Miller, center, learns dance moves to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" at the Dance Asylum in Costa Mesa on Tuesday.
Huntington Beach Independent City Editor Michael Miller,… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

So now I have done the moonwalk. Or something close to it, at least.

Tuesday night, I joined a class at the Dance Asylum studio in Costa Mesa in which two dozen or so students learned the zombie choreography from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.

No, that routine doesn't involve moonwalking. But before the class began, I cornered the instructor and asked if he knew the King of Pop's most famous step.

It turned out he did. With our sides pointed at the full-length mirror, we slowly went through the routine together.

You can find more detailed descriptions online, but basically, it goes like this: Keep your legs close together and bend one knee forward, with the toes on the floor. Then push the other leg back, straighten the bent knee at the same time you bend the straight knee, and so forth.

Of course, it may take quite some time before you do it with perfect finesse. Once, years ago, I was watching one of Jackson's videos with a friend who remarked, "It's as though gravity doesn't even apply to him."

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At this point, gravity definitely still applies to me.

And it clearly applied to the other students in Tuesday night's class, who were in their fourth week of practicing the zombie dance from "Thriller" and still struggled with some of the intricate moves. That didn't seem to dissuade them, though, as they gamely went through the steps time and again and even applauded their classmates after successful attempts.

I did my best to copy the moves, but having missed the first three weeks, I retreated to the sidelines after a few minutes. If you're keen on learning the "Thriller" routine, though, there's another chance coming up: Dance Asylum instructors will teach a five-week class on it at the Huntington Beach Art Center starting Wednesday.

The rehearsal I attended in Costa Mesa was for the studio's Oct. 27 in-house showcase; the Huntington Beach class will perform at the Downtown Art Walk, Surf City Nights and a Halloween festival on the Strand.

Suffice to say that Jackson's art is alive and well in Orange County, three years after his death and however many years — 25? 30? — since his name started dominating the tabloids.

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