The Day of the Dead – Dia de Los Muertos – is a huge 3-day holiday weekend in Mexico, as anyone who has seen the Disney film Coco knows. The weekend is marked with fiestas, altars in the plazas, in storefronts, in the cemetery, and in people’s homes. Tens of thousands gather in small towns like Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos for music, food, Catrina costume parades and prizes and a huge party that goes late into the night. Hundreds gather in the cemeteries to picnic, party and remember beloved people who have move on from this life.
Day of the Dead also overlaps Halloween – a coincidence planned by Catholic friars in the 15th Century to make conversion easier. Although Dia de los Muertos has nothing to do with Halloween, some ghoulish things creep in, like zombies and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.
Ajijic Mexico hosted its tenth annual Thrill the World dance exhibition on the Malecón (river walk) last weekend when 50 zombies danced on the boardwalk and then paraded to the square in a nearby neighborhood known as Six Corners for a repeat performance. While not connected to the Day of the Dead weekend of celebrations, Thrill the World is a popular event that fits well with the Day of the Dead holiday parades and costumes.
Thrill the World Ajijic took place on the basketball court of the Malecón park in a cordoned off area with booming speakers as over 300 spectators watched and cheered. The 7- minute dance to Jackson’s famous song was based on his choreography in the video premiered on MTV in 1984. The dance was performed for the second time in the Seis Esquinas (Six Corners) square on the west side of Ajijic.
Thrill the World! is an international event, originally launched in 2006 by Ines Markeljevic in Toronto, Canada in an attempt to set a Guinness world record for the “Largest Thriller Dance”. Sixty-two people showed up, setting the record; over 3 million people watched videos of the dancing giving it global popularity. The following year the Thrill the World Project recruited 1552 people in 52 cities for a new record.
Now the event is organized worldwide through a website, www.thrilltheworld.com, and serves as a fundraiser for the Red Cross. Last year over 3000 people danced in 63 events around the world, raising almost $400,000. Thrill the World took place this year in 45 cities in Austria, Brazil, Canada, England, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States. Ajijic has participated since 2010 in Thrill the World and this year was Mexico’s only representative.
Thrill the World requires weeks of practice and costume-making and is largely supported by the Ex-pat community in Lakeside but enjoys enthusiastic acceptance by the locals, a few of whom take part. This year’s event on the Malecón was accompanied by a fund-raising dinner for 100 people who also got reserved covered seats, but even those without dinner tickets had plenty of room to watch a great musical addition to the Day of the Dead holiday weekend. Lucky me…it was just down the street.
photos courtesy of Jazmine Stemple, Semanairo Laguna newspaper
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