As darkness fell across Washington Street Friday, faux fog rose from the asphalt. A pack of undead dancers, donning tattered, red-stained clothes, contorted in disjointed movement, lurching toward an eager crowd.
When the voice of Vincent Price gave way to bass, bodies synced in step.
It was “Thriller” night.
“Doing a Michael Jackson piece, it’s actually a real honor,” said Shimmy Sar, 19, of Elkhart.
Sar, in the role of “The Gloved One,” was among the roughly 30 Epic Dance Studios members participating in the recreation of Jackson’s steps, part of Goshen’s “Homecoming” First Fridays.
“Since this is our opening studio — we just started in September — we also had new kids,” he said. “They’re young and now they’re evolving. I think they did an awesome job. Especially for First Fridays, it’s a great time to do this.”
The scene resembled a giant dance floor circle, with spectators cramming tightly, hoisting cellphones for a shot of the show. Silhouetted figures lined the second-story windows above Ignition Music Garage — the event’s sponsor — for a bird’s-eye view.
“Anything that gets kids involved in music, we want to be a part of,” said Ignition owner Steve Martin. “It’s been one of the biggest goals of ours to get young people excited about music and about life and art and participating, because the majority of them, that only exists on the end of a cord to a cellphone.”
Martin’s venue also hosted the reunited Backdoor Men, a collective formed at Goshen College in 1967, whose members have gone on to record or perform with the likes of John Lennon, Elvis Costello and The Orchestra, featuring members of ELO.
Following the first “Thriller” performance, the group encored for a tighter run-through about 20 minutes later, dragging their limp legs and slouching bodies from the circle to the tune of crowd applause.
“It feels really good. It feels great to get your legs moving again, and having fun playing with kids,” said Epic instructor and participant Katrell “KJ” Jemison, 23, Elkhart. Jemison, along with his wife, co-teach hip-hop and freestyle classes at the Elkhart studio
“You scare a couple but you make up for it by making a lot of smiles. I love it.”
Geoff Lesar can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151 ext. 307.