Hundreds of people gathered for a reenactment of Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance routine in a spooktacular climax to Hastings’ Halloween celebrations on Saturday (October 29).
Led by former West End dancers and pupils, the mass dance spectacle took place in Queens Square outside Priory Meadow Shopping Centre at the finale of the annual 1066 Walk of the Dead.
The spooky scene, which saw more than 20 talented and heavily made-up dancers strut their ghoulish moves, was organised as part of the mall’s Halloween extravaganza which featured a host of free activities.
Among those taking part in the fun was keen dancer Elham Shafiquallah, 11, who travelled from Ealing in London with his dad Lal to take part in the event.
“When we heard about it we came to Hastings especially,” Lal said.
“Elham belongs to a dance club in London and loves dancing. I’m a big Michael Jackson fan myself and a few years ago I took part in a similar event in Poole in Dorset.
“It was absolutely brilliant today and we had a really good time.”
Families were also able to take part in a free ghostbuster hunt, Thriller dance workshops, apple bobbing, spooky storytelling in a specially created graveyard scene, and undergo a ghostly transformation courtesy of a special effects artist in the Halloween makeup workshop.
Natalie Lyons, from the old town, brought her five-year-old daughter Brooke along to the activities.
“The dancing was amazing, I posted it on Facebook straight away,” she said.
“Brooke wanted to join in and I had to stop her from running up and dancing with them as she’s a dancer herself.
“Brooke had her face painted as a Mexican candy skull which was like a vampire queen.
“The face painter was one of the best we’ve ever seen, he was amazing.
“He literally took five minutes and it was really cool. All the children had their hair spray painted while they waited in the queue and they played games with them.”
Brooke, a pupil at Castledown School, added: “I loved the hair spray and face painting. I had purple, green, orange and red put in my hair.
“I also loved the dancing and wanted to join in. It was really good fun.”
Emily Keene came along to the event with her children Lotty, six, and Sonnie, seven, who enjoyed the ghost hunt and had their faces painted as zombies.
“The children loved it and loved all the costumes,” Emily said.
“They really enjoyed the ghost hunt and won some chocolate monsters and glow sticks.”
Sonnie, an Ark Blacklands Primary Academy pupil, added: “I liked the ghost hunt the best. You had to write down what all the ghosts were saying in the speech bubbles and look for the spectres. It took a long time to do but my mum came along and helped me.
“It’s been really good fun. My face is painted with blood dripping all down my mouth. It looks really scary.”
A competition for the spookiest selfie posted on the Priory Meadow Facebook Page ran throughout the weekend with a chance to win a £100 shopping spree and there were also hourly giveaways from the stores on Saturday.
And the fun continued on Monday with another ghost hunt planned and zombie entertainment including two Ghoulish characters who will be roaming the shopping centre handing out treats between 2pm and 5.30pm.
The Thriller show was organised by local dance class organisers and former West End dancers Tony Dwyer and Katy-Jo Murfin who originally met in rehearsals for the musical hit Cats.
Tom and Katy-Jo started Tomboogie dance classes in Hastings after Tom’s career was cut short by injury. They now teach more than 150 every week aged from eight to 80.
The Thriller dance was performed by members of Tomboogie’s Friday night adult class, which had been practising the famous routine every Friday. For many, performing the iconic sequence was a dream come true.
Priory Meadow manager Stacey Bell said: “There has been plenty to keep the youngsters occupied over the weekend and the fun will continue today with our scary visitors’ on-hand to greet shoppers and hand out treats.
“The Thriller dance performance was a fantastic headliner event and literally stopped shoppers in their tracks.
“We were delighted to be able to bring Michael Jackson’s famous pop dance routine to Priory Meadows and would like to thank the dancers involved who put a great deal of time and effort into perfecting what was a fabulous show-stopping performance.”
For more information about Priory Meadow shopping centre visit www.priorymeadow.com.
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