Megan Shepherd
October 31, 2014 5:00 am

It’s officially Mischief Night, and you know that means: pranks galore, costume-prep, spooky movie marathons, and my personal favorite pre-Halloween tradition—the Thriller dance!

If you’re like me (and everyone but Michael Jackson) trying to learn the Thriller dance was tough. While there’s nothing quite like mimicking the video, sometimes it helps to have a few written directions. Ready to get your zombie on? Here’s a step-by-step guide to the Thriller dance–or at least, the important parts.

Pre-Dance: Spooky Lurking

If you’re dancing along to the video, you’re going to have some time to kill. While Vincent Price is saying, “darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand. . .” this is your cue to walk around hauntingly. Once Michael changes into the walking dead and the beat picks up, begin the dance.

Step 1: Werewolf Marching

-To achieve Michael’s signature walk, start out with short abrupt steps forward, and use your right shoulder to ‘scratch an itch’ in your right ear on the beat. Do this four times (8 counts).

-Then, make your steps forward wider, and sink into them on the beats, bouncing your booty in the process. You should have your arms stiffly outstretched in front of you at low diagonals, as if trying to ward off encroaching evils. Repeat four times (another 8 counts).

-Then make your steps forward more like a shuffle: slide the feet forward a bit, push the arms up and out into a small arch, while tossing the head back. Hands should be overly werewolfish, at this point. Do this twice on both sides (8 counts).

If you’re feeling confident, you can now add the following walk sequence:

-Quickly shuffle to the right twice, shuffle backwards to the left once, pop your hip to the right, grab your belt buckle, and do three pelvic thrusts.

If you aren’t ready for this move, go straight from you Zombie Walk into a stationary version of Michael’s famed pelvic thrust. (8 counts).

Step 2: Thriller Slide

-The base of the Thriller dance starts with a big clap in the air, with the right hip popped. As you bring the arms down, let the right leg slide down into a Spiderman-like stance. Transition through a deep squat, then use your force to push yourself back up to standing, and into another clap in the air. Bring the arms down, shrug the shoulders, and look quickly to the right. Repeat on the left side. (This should take about 8 counts for each side, but keep the beat of the music).

Step 3: Evil Scurry

-You’re then going to gleefully shuffle off to find your next meal, as you have now fully transitioned from werewolf-ish creature to flesh-craving zombie. For the technical folks, the steps should go left, right, left-left-left, right, left, right-right-right. Hands are, of course, out in front of you like the undead. (Do this 8 counts and come to a stop).

Step 4: Zombie Shuffle (Chorus! Hang with me folks, because it’s about to get serious.)

The ‘zombie shuffle’ is the root of the thriller dance. Learn this sequence, and you’ll be dancing to “‘Cause this is THRILLLLLLLERRRRR!” all night long.

-Turn to the right and, with your zombie hands up, rock back and forth to the right for 4 counts, then switch sides and do it to the left for 1 count.

Step back on the right foot, and lean and shake to the right. Drag the left foot to the right foot, reach the right arm out (presumably to grab a human snack), then do the move back on the left side.

-Then, turn to the side, raise the arms up in iconic Thriller creature fashion and walk 3 counts in one direction. Then quickly alternate your zombie hands to the opposite side and back again, then change directions and repeat the move. (This should take 10 counts, so try to make it as fluid as possible).

-From here, plant your feet, swing the arms up above and around you in a big, sweeping motion, then mummy shake down to a flat back, then up again (feet don’t move).

Step 5: Monster Crawl

From here, crouch down to a squat, plant the hands on the knees, and pivot in a circle around the right foot, allowing the left foot to drag behind for 7 counts. On the 8th count, look back over your shoulder. Then, staying in a low squat, Monster Crawl forward with the hands on the knees for 8 counts.

After this, walk forward like the undead for 16 counts, then repeat the Thriller slide, the Zombie Shuffle, and the Monster Crawl a bunch of times like you know what you’re doing! Congrats, girl! You’re like, basically MJ’s backup dancer. . .

Happy Halloween!

(Images via gifsoup, youtube)

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