Richmond -- In what the organizer jokingly calls a case of his "Michael Jackson obsession gone wrong," a group of College of William & Mary students has won the world record for most people to dance to the singer's "Thriller" simultaneously in one place.
The 242-person routine was organized by longtime Jackson fan and Alexandria native Kevin Dua, who was notified Friday by Guinness World Records of the accomplishment. The previous record was 147 people in an event held last summer at a British secondary school.
Mr. Dua, 21, spent the better part of the school year orchestrating the event, which was held April 19 at the college in Williamsburg, in eastern Virginia.
"I've been a Michael Jackson fan since I was 5 years old. It was something I grew up around," Mr. Dua said Friday in a telephone interview.
Mr. Dua also was inspired by Thrill the World, an event held each October in which groups of "Thriller" fans gather around the world to re-create the 1983 video, a horror-film spoof featuring Mr. Jackson dancing among a troupe of zombies. Last year's event included more than 4,100 dancers in 10 nations, according to the Thrill the World event Web site, www.thrilltheworld.com.
Mr. Dua recruited about nine friends to serve as trainers and to lead participants in the six-minute dance routine. The event was thoroughly documented to Guinness specifications, including numerous still photos and video from multiple angles so "they were officially able to examine whether everyone was performing the entire dance routine correctly. Everyone did."
Except for the group leaders, all dancers learned their steps in about two hours, Mr. Dua said.
Mr. Dua, who is graduating this weekend with a history degree, said the best part of the event was that it gave a diverse group of people - most of them weren't even born when "Thriller" debuted - the opportunity to share an experience and have some fun.
He plans to donate his official Guinness certificate to the college